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Selecting and appointing the right candidate to drive an overseas operation is vital to a company’s growth, its bottom line - and the benefits it brings to the team they are heading.  

The key to success depends upon a variety of factors, including the employer offering the appropriate support and the employee understanding that moving abroad entails undertaking thorough research and preparation.

HR directors must recognise that it is not a given that the best manager in the UK is necessarily the best applicant for a similar overseas position, even if they tick all the boxes on paper. Because so much is at stake with such appointment, bosses would be wise to set aside any preconceptions they may have about who would be most suitable for the role.

Follow these tips when identifying the best candidate for your overseas operation:

• Many employers only consider candidates at a certain managerial level, irrespective of whether they would be the best fit. However it is vital that they take into account whether the person they have selected will command respect, is open to diversity and will be flexible.

• A candidate’s private life should be considered, particularly if they are married and have a family. Does their partner want to relocate and has the whole family been given the information to allow them to make an informed decision about a move?

• Savvy employers should check a manager is not accepting an overseas’ position because they want to escape from something in the UK. A good HR director will likewise give a manager the opportunity to decline the relocation.

• The employer should offer pre-assignment planning, but also work with the prospective employee to conduct research on their new role and country.

• It is advised to show the employee around the office where they will be working and help them decide where to live. This also offers them the opportunity to speak to, and learn from, ex-pats who have made the transition.

• Before making any decision, it is essential the candidate is in possession of the hard facts, such as the importance of learning the language - even if English is the main means of communicating.  Whilst it is not always essential to speak the local dialect, it is helpful to make an effort, which invariably is well received by local communities and businesses counterparts.

• Once overseas, the employer has an ongoing responsibility to ensure an employee has time and support to adjust to their new environment and culture. This may involve living with increased security and a potential language barrier.

• Employers sending staff overseas should have in place an on-going management programme. Creating this and allocating a specific person to keep in contact with the employee going overseas will reassure the candidate that everything is being done to support them through the transition. 

In the same way that an employee needs assistance when relocating to a new job overseas, they will need further support in the form of a robust repatriation programme when returning to the UK. Many often find it hard to settle back into the British lifestyle and require more than a return air ticket to readjust.

The investment in resource to make the right appointment, supporting the employee in preparing for and managing their role - and ensuring they are successfully repatriated - is proven time and again to pay dividends.  

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