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Reflections on International Candidate Mobility

23/07/2020

As part of our Fastnet blog series, I have been asked to share some insights with you from my recent master’s degree thesis in International Business, completed at Cork Institute of Technology in 2019. In 2017, I began the Master’s in International business as a part-time evening student, supported by Fastnet the Talent Group as part of their internal development programme. 

The research undertaken for my thesis was in relation to Best Practices in Executive Search and this time last year, I was busy trying to finish up the analysis of the results and finalise my thesis submission. Like the rest of the world, I could not have even begun to imagine the changes that would be in store for businesses with the Covid-19 pandemic. These recent events have led me to reflect on some of the aspects of my research that may be changing imminently.

My thesis explored how Executive Search firms used their best practices to help access and place the most qualified candidates in positions with their clients. At the time of research, the “war for talent” was raging in Ireland and one of the major issues encountered by search firms was candidate mobility. Having a pipeline of relevant skills for a digital world is one of the greatest priorities for businesses. Finding a star candidate is always challenging, but then convincing the candidate to relocate nationally or internationally adds another layer of complexity. 

One of the aims of my research was to see if this issue was limited to Ireland or was this an issue that was encountered internationally. With the support of the IRC Group of Executive search firms, I discovered that there is not as much difficulty in convincing candidates to move longer distances nationally or internationally outside of Ireland and that candidates internationally are more open to relocation depending on their specific circumstances. My own survey reported a slightly stronger than neutral sentiment towards candidate relocation within the international context whereas, in our own Fastnet experience working with candidates within Ireland, we found it very difficult.

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 It may be a factor of cultural difference in attitude towards mobility, as in countries such as the United States, there is a greater tendency towards being open to relocate for a good job opportunity. To present, that has not been the case in Ireland, where asking someone to relocate from Cork to Dublin can seem like asking someone to move to the Moon!

Reflecting on the current circumstances and how quickly the world of work has moved online and off-site, I wonder if candidate mobility is an issue that we will have to struggle with as much anymore. A current McKinsey report on the crisis, showed an increase of more than 50% in the numbers of employees working from home between April and May 2020.* The current crisis has shown us how possible it is to move our workplaces to remote locations for so many roles and I wonder if this will mean an opening up by companies to increased remote working opportunities for a wider range of roles. The benefits of this seem undeniable, as with better remote working options, companies should now be able to access top talent regardless of location and will also benefit from increased diversity levels within their teams. 

*https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/business%20functions/risk/our%20insights/covid%2019%20implications%20for%20business/covid%2019%20july%209/covid-19-facts-and-insights-july-6.pdf



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