Agility is the Word When it Comes to Recruiting Talents

It is not enough for global mobility specialists to become human resource experts, skilled diplomats, a recruitment whiz, and a walking database packed with international laws and customs. In an era that has been characterized as volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous, they must learn agility and make it one of their core skills.

At its most basic level, agility is defined as the ability to move fast and with a high degree of nimbleness. Expand its meaning and it can also mean intellectual dexterity or the capacity to solve problems and think out of the box. Today’s business landscape elevates its meaning even higher to one that includes the skill to adjust and adapt to the changing times and respond to them pro-actively and productively, in such a way that it benefits the skilled individual and/or the organization he represents.

Computer Weekly elaborates on the meaning of strategic agility by describing it this way:  “To be able to respond to change in an effective and dynamic way, to increase the level of experimentation to trial (sic) new offerings more easily and to unlock their employees’ potential.”

Agility can also spell the difference between an organization’s ongoing business sustainability and its demise. IMD gives as a clear example IBM’s transformation from a hardware and software producer and seller in the 1950s to a creator and provider of IT solution providers. The computer giant had to adapt and transform itself and its core business in order to stay relevant in a business landscape that was doing more and more of its work online.

In contrast, Kodak and Nokia could not go beyond and shift from providing its core products, and became casualties as newer products succeeded in the market. Kodak lost out to the digital camera manufacturers while Nokia was overrun by smartphone makers who made internet activities an indispensable part of cellphone use.

Global mobility specialists are not immune to the challenges but must take the bull by the proverbial horn if they want to continue filling their pipeline with valued international assignees. More than most, they must be able to see the different human resource trends happening all over various global hotspots and measure their effects on their organizations. Unexpected game-changers like a government’s sudden protectionist stance, the breakup of an international alliance, or the reduction of specialists in a formerly reliable hub should not catch them off guard. Agility means being aware of and not being fazed by developments such as these, and crafting solutions and responses that will not just mitigate risks and exposures but leave the organization stronger than before.

These are a few tips on how global mobility specialists can sharpen their mindset and their skills to become more agile, globally, strategically, and in a business sense:

  • Be aware of your own blind spots and be prepared to accept reality, no matter how difficult or inconvenient it presents itself. Hold no sacred cows and revere no sacred ground. While longstanding relationships with certain clients and communities can develop fondness for certain regions and partners, they should not lead to an almost-blind loyalty that dismisses other options. For example, the organization has built itself successfully in certain regions by employing programmers recruited from a certain country. However, for various reasons, the talent from that particular source is being depleted as of late. The global mobility specialist should not continue to rely on that country for “old times” sake’ and in the hope that things will become better. Once he sees the warning signs, he should come up with a contingency plan — or risk losing out on qualified talent that he could have found in other places.


  • Developing and maintaining a strong support system in many cities, countries, and regions. Being objective about certain partnerships does not mean losing one’s value or appreciation for them. Partners in allied countries can help the global mobility specialist make a difficult transition, cushion him from certain cultural and political shocks, and point him to other directions should plans fail. Homegrown businessmen could be the eyes and ears of the global mobility specialist in these places, and organizations like California Corporate Housing can open doors to city councils, business clubs, and relocation services.


  • Finally, Deloitte advises increasing one’s cultural intelligence or quotient. Be prepared to go beyond your usual comfort zone and learn to assimilate cultures, traditions, and business etiquette different from what you are used to. For example, it may no longer be enough to be the company’s go-to guy when it comes to Eastern Europe; if talent and opportunities become abundant in Central Asia, then you must shift gears and learn to be a specialist in that area as well.


Familiarity with many kinds of resource pools can also help the global mobility specialist create what Deloitte calls contingent or a backup international source of talent. About 51 percent of company heads said that they will rely on contingent talent for the next three to five years. A global mobility specialist who has been consistent in doing his homework can take the lead in sourcing and establishing this contingent for future use.