Five Tips for Successful Recruiting in India

It's no secret that finding top talent is tough. A recent study from LinkedIn shows an increase in the gap between hiring volume and budget at 13 percent in 2015, compared to 7 percent in 2014. Given the persistent skills gap that organizations in the United States face, it's more important than ever to develop a sourcing strategy that's as effective as possible.

As employers turn to recruiting in India to fill open roles – especially in science, technology, engineering, and math fields – they must develop smart, relevant strategies.

Here are five things to know as you ease into a foreign market:

1. Referrals Are Like Gold

Global Talent Perspectives 2016, a survey of more than 700 visa and green card holders ("expats") commissioned by VISANOW and conducted online by Harris Poll, reveals that about one-third of expats believe referrals were the most important factor in finding their first positions in the United States. According to LinkedIn's study, more than half of employers believe that referrals are their top source of quality hires, and they see employee referrals as a long-lasting trend in finding talent.

LinkedIn's study also found India to be a global leader in employee referral programs. When asked how effectively their organizations use employees for job referrals, 65 percent of Indian talent leaders said they were "best in class," compared to 32 percent in China, 55 percent in Southeast Asia, and 39 percent of talent leaders globally.

Consider investing some time in building a strong employee referral program to start leveraging the networks employees already have in India.

2. Your Competitors Are Focused on Employer Branding – and You Should Be, Too

Employer branding is a crucial consideration when recruiting anywhere, but it becomes especially important when recruiting abroad in a new market. Seventy-eight percent of companies in the LinkedIn survey say their employer brand has a significant impact on their ability to hire great talent, and 72 percent say the employer brand is a top priority for their organization.

Indian futurist Arjun Khanna told employer branding blog The Magnet that promising international exposure can be helpful when trying to entice Indian workers: "If you are an organization that has offices around the world with international opportunities, you must spell that out. You would attract good talent, as international opportunities are considered good learning opportunities and may pique the interests of certain candidates."

3. Not All Job boards Are Created Equal

According to Jennifer Davis, senior director of people strategies and HR technology at Epsilon, is the premier job board for senior technical workers in India. So, Epsilon paid for sidebar advertising on to drive people to its career site.

Davis also said that Epsilon used LinkedIn to tell its "company story."

LinkedIn's study found that 63 percent of talent acquisition professionals say online professional networks are their most effective tools for spreading their employer brands, and 62 percent also believe their company websites are critical promotional tools as well. While company websites and online professional networks are at a point of intersection, the company website has decreased in its effectiveness in driving employer brand since 2012, while professional networks have increased.

"LinkedIn works well for senior-level management professionals, while Monster is more for junior-level people," Davis said. "In America, Monster is a generalist job board and for fresh college grads. In India, they call those candidates 'freshers' — basically, straight out of college."

But while freshers are abundant in India, Khanna warns startups in particular against hiring too many of them: "Freshers learn at your expense and are likely to jump jobs," he told The Magnet. Freshers are better for larger companies that have more resources to dedicate to training and skilling up junior workers.

4. Print Ads Are Surprisingly Effective

Davis said that Epsilon placed far more print ads in India than it would have in the United States, pointing to frequently read publications like the Indiatimes. Epsilon's PR firm identified specific publications where the company's ads would get the most attention, and while some of them were tech-related, others were general local publications.

"I've been over to India four times, and in retrospect, I would even do a billboard," Davis said. "It's seen by so many people. The investment is worth it."

5. In-Person Meetings Beat Web-Based Communication Every Time

The importance of actually visiting the area from which you're recruiting can't be overstated. Hop on a plane and spend some time in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, or whatever locale in which your candidates primarily reside. You'll get a better sense of business culture and some of the differences you might otherwise not understand in a US-based or online interview setting. Plus, you'll be able to see firsthand what resonates with the candidates you're looking for.

Jamie Gilpin is the CMO and workforce trends analyst at VISANOW.