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Recruitment and management

7 tips on recruiting international talent for accounting, finance and management positions

Professionnels formés à l'étranger

All business owners and executives in Quebec face the major challenge of recruiting new talent. Every day, businesses scale back their operations or turn down new contracts due to a lack of personnel.

Accounting, finance and management positions are definitely affected by this phenomenon, despite the fact that hundreds of new accounting professionals enter Quebec’s job market every year. Some of them are foreign-trained professionals, a large and ever-growing pool of talent that cannot be overlooked. But if you want to hire these professionals, you need to know how to adjust your recruitment process.

With this in mind, here are seven tips on how to confidently prepare for and handle the recruitment process for foreign-trained professionals.

1. Rethink your job requirements

When you recruit locally, you often have to consider applications from candidates who meet only some of the criteria mentioned in your offer. When the same situation occurs with candidates from other countries, many employers' first reaction is to make the requirements stricter, often in an attempt to shake off the perceived risks they believe they are taking in the hiring process. In reality, they would be better served to approach the profiles of foreign-trained professionals with the same flexibility. Obviously, a degree of diligence is important when evaluating any application. But when evaluating them, you should make sure that everyone is given due consideration based on the skills actually required by your organization and whether some skills acquired outside Quebec are transferrable. For instance, you will rarely come across a candidate from another country who has already held an accounting position at a Quebec organization. Yet, if that candidate has already worked with international standards, such as the IFRS, which are also used in Quebec, his or her knowledge is certainly transferrable.

2. Embrace cultural differences

You may very well be used to recruiting locally and evaluating candidates based on your knowledge of the training offered in Quebec and the requirements of competing employers, but you need to leave your comfort zone and be open to different career paths, broader professional experiences and even very specific ones when recruiting foreign-trained professionals. To do this, you will need to learn about their country of origin and culture so that you can properly adjust your selection criteria. Feel free to ask your colleagues, friends or family who come from the same region or consult firms that specialize in recruiting international professionals to grasp the cultural nuances and particular circumstances.   

Also, learn to recognize the added potential of an international candidate's experience. For example, their proficiency in a language and knowledge of different cultural codes may prove highly useful to your organization.

3. Focus on complementary skills

As we mentioned above, you have to adjust your requirements to some degree when you recruit foreign talent. For instance, don’t waste your time looking for international candidates who have a perfect knowledge of Canadian corporate taxation. It is better to search for skills that complement those of your other team members. Benoit Poudrette, CPA, CGA, partner at Poudrette & Associée, has regularly recruited candidates from foreign countries, such as France, and has this to say about the experience: 

“Accountants who have been trained in France quite often have a solid command of general accounting. They are extremely methodical in their use of charts of accounts. These skills can be quickly transferred in our organization and complement the entire team's work.”

4. Be competitive

Benefits are often the key to attracting new talent. When you decide to recruit international talent, keep in mind that your benefits will be compared not only to those offered by the competition, but also to those in the candidates' country of origin, like the famed five weeks of vacation offered in some European countries. Though it may be hard to offer the same thing, it is still a point of reference for professionals from these countries.

Therefore, if you cannot offer the same thing, try offering alternatives like working from home (telework) or flexible schedules during the year. Furthermore, permanent positions are rare in some countries, which is why they may be an attractive feature of your offer. Be competitive by diversifying the benefits and highlighting your working environment. Poudrette & Associée, for example, promotes its extracurricular activities, such as its lunchtime running group that meets twice a week.

5. Emphasize personal skills

To find that rare pearl, it is crucial that you fine-tune your recruitment process, especially for candidates who have immigrated here. In fact, it is highly likely that you won’t know the companies where they worked. So you will need to do some Web research on these organizations and ask the candidates for references.

When you do, pay more attention to the soft skills that these candidates demonstrate in the interview, as this will help you better determine which candidates are the best fit for your company’s culture and values.

For Benoit Poudrette, the personality of the candidates is a benchmark for recognizing which ones will likely match up better with the DNA of his organization. In fact, when he interviews candidates, he always adds a few questions to make sure that they are also comfortable with his organization's culture.

6. Change your perception of the employer's role

Foreign-trained professionals often have to overcome more challenges than other candidates. In addition to adapting to your organization's culture, they often have to adjust to a new country, a new city, and a new neighbourhood. “It may seem hard, as employers, to get involved in the private lives of our employees. However, it is our responsibility to help employees integrate in Quebec,” says Benoît Poudrette. Various resources can be made available to assist foreign-trained professionals with their transition: a booklet of practical information on living in Quebec, a mentorship with another employee, solidarity luncheons with other foreign-trained professionals, etc. It is always a good idea to iron out the snags and keep them from feeling isolated. Mentioning these initiatives to the candidates that you meet in interviews can also be a decisive factor in their decision to work for you or not.

7. Trust the experts

Although it may be hard at times to evaluate the skills of foreign-trained professionals, you can consult a firm that specializes in recruiting international candidates, such as Kennedy Garceau, which will be able to assist you in the process.

Furthermore, in the business world, the Quebec CPA designation is a credential that guarantees that its holder meets the strictest requirements. To protect the public, the Quebec CPA Order evaluates the files of each and every foreign-trained professional on a thorough and individual basis and determines the steps they need to take to bring their competencies up to par so that they are equivalent to those of their Quebec colleagues when they obtain their designation. To meet the growing demand, the Order has also developed new specialized tools to speed up the recognition process for the prior learning and professional experience of foreign-trained professionals.

Visit the Order’s site to find out more about the improved evaluation process >

With proper preparation and a willingness to adjust your process, recruiting foreign-trained professionals is an excellent way for you to expand the pool of potential candidates who can fill your positions and find the ideal candidates.

Marilène Garceau
Expert in professional mobility between Europe and Canada
Kennedy Garceau

Marilène Garceau is an international human resources expert with over 25 years of experience in Canada, France, Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Slovakia.

Marilène cofounded Kennedy Garceau on the basis of her own experiences in working and living abroad and her project management skills. In doing so, she had one goal in mind: find solutions to enhance professional mobility strategies for employees of companies with locations in Europe and Canada.

She is also a renowned trainer and speaker who shares her international human resource expertise. She thoroughly incorporates the concepts of multiculturalism and “intercultural profile” in both her work and her consulting approach and puts the emphasis on preparing clients for their departure.

She is a graduate of HEC Montreal and ESSEC.