5 Best Digital Marketing Certifications

5 Best Digital Marketing Certifications

One of the hottest career sectors today is digital marketing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, market research analysts and marketing specialists are among the top 20 occupations with the most new jobs forecast through 2026, and an average salary that tops $62,000. 
A digital marketer develops strategies for marketing a company’s products and services over the web, and runs campaigns for brand awareness and to convert leads to customers. Marketers rely heavily on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to do their jobs as well as email, text messages, web analytics, search engine optimization tools and more. 

But digital marketing isn’t always about bringing in new customers or business; it’s also about connecting with those you already have. You use the same channels, such as social media, to stay in touch and keep customers current on what your company can do for them. 

Top five certifications, by the numbers 

The following table lists top digital marketing certifications and the number of open positions on a single day that call for the certification specifically or experience with the technology. This isn’t a scientific analysis in which every job description is examined, just an overall glance at search numbers.  

Job site search results

Certification SimplyHired LinkedIn Jobs Total
Facebook Certified Planning Professional* 93 41 134
Google AdWords Certification 175 134 309
Hootsuite Social Marketing Certification 35 19 54
HubSpot Content Marketing Certification 77 46 123
PCM – Digital Management 38 46 84

* Searching for “Facebook Blueprint” resulted in 478 hits.

The following sections provide details of the top digital marketing certifications according to job site searches as well as other certifications offered by the various companies. 

Facebook Certified Planning Professional 

The Facebook Blueprint certification program offers two certifications: the Facebook Certified Planning Professional and the Facebook Certified Buying Professional. Both certifications aim at those who manage Facebook Pages and who target audiences for the biggest impact. From there, the Planning Professional focuses on optimizing reach and frequency, determines campaign KPIs, plans strategy and budget, and measures campaign performance.  

You have to pass two exams to earn either certification, which are available through Pearson VUE. Each exam costs $150, training is free, and the certifications are valid for one year. 

Google AdWords Certification 

Google AdWords certification is soaring in popularity these days, followed closely by the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) credential. If you use Google tools to set up, measure, manage and optimize marketing campaigns, consider the Google AdWords certification.  

Two exams are required – the AdWords Fundamentals exam and one more on search, display, mobile, video or shopping advertising – both of which are free. To take any Google exam means first signing up for the Google Partners program, which also lets you register for free training; from there you can certify as an individual. The Google AdWords certification is good for one year.

Hootsuite Social Marketing Certification  

The social media and platform company with the catchy name – Hootsuite – offers six certifications. The Hootsuite Social Marketing certification covers core concepts related to social media marketing. Other certifications include Hootsuite Social Selling, Hootsuite Advanced Social Advertising, Hootsuite Platform and a few specialty credentials.

Hootsuite encourages all prospective certificants to take a series of free online courses before sitting for the Social Marketing exam, which costs $199. The credential doesn’t expire. 

HubSpot Content Marketing Certification 

HubSpot, a maker of software for inbound marketing and sales, offers a bunch of training and certifications through HubSpot Academy. The HubSpot Content Marketing Certification recognizes professionals who create and promote content for the purpose of bringing in new customers. The associated course covers tips and best practices for building a content library of valuable assets. Other certifications include HubSpot Inbound Certification, HubSpot Email Marketing Certification, HubSpot Sales Software Certification, and more, aimed at individuals and agencies. 

To earn the HubSpot Content Marketing Certification, take the associated online course and then the exam. It’s all free. For details, see the FAQs. 

PCM – Digital Management Certification 

The American Marketing Association Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) program takes a more formal approach to its certifications than other featured companies in this article. The organization created a Body of Knowledge for the PCM – Digital Management certification, which includes topics on planning, branding, pricing, public relations, social media and more.

A related credential through AMA is the PCM – Digital Marketing. A study guide for the PCM – Digital Management certification costs $99 for AMA members or $149 for nonmembers. The exam costs $99 (members) and $299 (nonmembers) and is available online. To maintain the credential, you must recertify every three years by earning approved marketing continuing education units (CEUs). 

What else? 

The Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) program has several digital marketing certifications, such as the Analytics Business Practitioner and the Campaign Business Practitioner, to name a few. The company’s digital marketing skills assessment helps you baseline your current skills and determine your next step regarding certification. 

Salesforce marketing certifications – the Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Social Specialist and Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Email Specialist – may appeal to professionals who use Salesforce for marketing campaigns. 

Finally, if you lean on Twitter to further your digital marketing campaigns (or want to), check out Twitter Flight School offerings. Twitter doesn’t offer certifications at this time, but you can take free courses and earn badges for your efforts. 

 

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5 Best Digital Marketing Certifications

One of the hottest career sectors today is digital marketing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, market research analysts and marketing specialists are among the top 20 occupations with the most new jobs forecast through 2026, and an average salary that tops $62,000. 
A digital marketer develops strategies for marketing a company’s products and services over the web, and runs campaigns for brand awareness and to convert leads to customers. Marketers rely heavily on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to do their jobs as well as email, text messages, web analytics, search engine optimization tools and more. 

But digital marketing isn’t always about bringing in new customers or business; it’s also about connecting with those you already have. You use the same channels, such as social media, to stay in touch and keep customers current on what your company can do for them. 

Top five certifications, by the numbers 

The following table lists top digital marketing certifications and the number of open positions on a single day that call for the certification specifically or experience with the technology. This isn’t a scientific analysis in which every job description is examined, just an overall glance at search numbers.  

Job site search results

Certification SimplyHired LinkedIn Jobs Total
Facebook Certified Planning Professional* 93 41 134
Google AdWords Certification 175 134 309
Hootsuite Social Marketing Certification 35 19 54
HubSpot Content Marketing Certification 77 46 123
PCM – Digital Management 38 46 84

* Searching for “Facebook Blueprint” resulted in 478 hits.

The following sections provide details of the top digital marketing certifications according to job site searches as well as other certifications offered by the various companies. 

Facebook Certified Planning Professional 

The Facebook Blueprint certification program offers two certifications: the Facebook Certified Planning Professional and the Facebook Certified Buying Professional. Both certifications aim at those who manage Facebook Pages and who target audiences for the biggest impact. From there, the Planning Professional focuses on optimizing reach and frequency, determines campaign KPIs, plans strategy and budget, and measures campaign performance.  

You have to pass two exams to earn either certification, which are available through Pearson VUE. Each exam costs $150, training is free, and the certifications are valid for one year. 

Google AdWords Certification 

Google AdWords certification is soaring in popularity these days, followed closely by the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) credential. If you use Google tools to set up, measure, manage and optimize marketing campaigns, consider the Google AdWords certification.  

Two exams are required – the AdWords Fundamentals exam and one more on search, display, mobile, video or shopping advertising – both of which are free. To take any Google exam means first signing up for the Google Partners program, which also lets you register for free training; from there you can certify as an individual. The Google AdWords certification is good for one year.

Hootsuite Social Marketing Certification  

The social media and platform company with the catchy name – Hootsuite – offers six certifications. The Hootsuite Social Marketing certification covers core concepts related to social media marketing. Other certifications include Hootsuite Social Selling, Hootsuite Advanced Social Advertising, Hootsuite Platform and a few specialty credentials.

Hootsuite encourages all prospective certificants to take a series of free online courses before sitting for the Social Marketing exam, which costs $199. The credential doesn’t expire. 

HubSpot Content Marketing Certification 

HubSpot, a maker of software for inbound marketing and sales, offers a bunch of training and certifications through HubSpot Academy. The HubSpot Content Marketing Certification recognizes professionals who create and promote content for the purpose of bringing in new customers. The associated course covers tips and best practices for building a content library of valuable assets. Other certifications include HubSpot Inbound Certification, HubSpot Email Marketing Certification, HubSpot Sales Software Certification, and more, aimed at individuals and agencies. 

To earn the HubSpot Content Marketing Certification, take the associated online course and then the exam. It’s all free. For details, see the FAQs. 

PCM – Digital Management Certification 

The American Marketing Association Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) program takes a more formal approach to its certifications than other featured companies in this article. The organization created a Body of Knowledge for the PCM – Digital Management certification, which includes topics on planning, branding, pricing, public relations, social media and more.

A related credential through AMA is the PCM – Digital Marketing. A study guide for the PCM – Digital Management certification costs $99 for AMA members or $149 for nonmembers. The exam costs $99 (members) and $299 (nonmembers) and is available online. To maintain the credential, you must recertify every three years by earning approved marketing continuing education units (CEUs). 

What else? 

The Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) program has several digital marketing certifications, such as the Analytics Business Practitioner and the Campaign Business Practitioner, to name a few. The company’s digital marketing skills assessment helps you baseline your current skills and determine your next step regarding certification. 

Salesforce marketing certifications – the Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Social Specialist and Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Email Specialist – may appeal to professionals who use Salesforce for marketing campaigns. 

Finally, if you lean on Twitter to further your digital marketing campaigns (or want to), check out Twitter Flight School offerings. Twitter doesn’t offer certifications at this time, but you can take free courses and earn badges for your efforts. 

 

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6 Tips For Sending Your Email Newsletter At The Right Time

Have you ever noticed that it seems like every single company seems to send their email newsletter at the same time?

Usually they’re sent very late at night or extra early in the morning.

Which is, funny enough, when most of their audience is sleeping, so we wake up with an overstuffed inbox each morning.

I am guessing that you have also run into this somewhat minor annoyance.

But it literally is one of my biggest pet peeves.

If you are like me, the deleting of most of these newsletters has become part of your morning ritual.

It is pretty refreshing to send them all to your trash folder and get back to inbox zero.

I mean I love reading about data driven marketing tips but not at 7 in the morning.

We are constantly plugged into our email accounts with those supercomputers we call phones.

The days when you would check your email once in the morning and once at night is over.

But, alas, some companies still seem to be sticking to that email schedule.

This strategy is as outdated as that jewel colored iMac or Gateway computer sitting in your basement.

And all the effort you put into great content will be wasted if you pick the wrong time to send.

So I set out to find when the best time to send an email newsletter is, in the most scientific way ever, by signing up for 100 different newsletters and recording all of their send times.

1. Send it from 11-12PM, 1-2PM, or 2-3PM

If you were looking for the best time to send an email I would recommend selecting a time where there is little competition.

Like a time when almost no emails are being sent.

I mean why would you want your newsletter competing for your audience’s attention with a bunch of other emails?

That is just a recipe for low open rates and a drop in subscribers.

So to avoid that I would shoot for a period when no other emails are sent.

In fact, from 11-12PM, 1-2PM and 2-3PM not a single email was sent in our study.

Like not a single one:

Now you may be asking what is the best chunk of time out of those three periods?

And I would have to say that 2-3PM has the most potential.

From 11-12PM and 1-2PM are too close to the lunch hour and could get lost in the shuffle.

Unless your newsletter deals with a fun topic that they would want to read about on that break, I would avoid those two.

Instead try from 2-3PM.

Your audience will most likely be back from lunch by then and feeling a bit recharged.

They have already cleared their emails from the morning and are maybe looking for a little procrastination opportunity.

And boom, your email newsletter is there to help them out.

2. Or from 10-11AM

Now if you don’t want to be the only one sending an email during a certain time period, I have a perfect time for you.

This is another period where almost zero email newsletters were sent out in our study. In fact there were only one email sent out in that whole time period.

And I think that your email can handle a little competition.

This period happens to be from 10-11AM.

As you can see in the graph above there were a few other periods when only a few emails were sent.

But I do not think that they will be as fruitful as from 10-11AM.

For example, from 9-10AM is when a lot of people’s workday starts and 4-5PM is when it usually ends.

That means you are going to be fighting a lot more for their attention than just a few emails.

So to avoid these outside distractions I would choose from 10-11AM.

By then your readers will be settled into their desk, the coffee has kicked in and they are probably at inbox zero.

It is almost a perfect time for an interesting newsletter to pop up in their mailbox.

Additionally, I do find it a little odd that from 10-11AM has been pushed by experts and thought leaders.

But exactly one email was sent.

It really does not make sense, but it does present a new opportunity for your email newsletter to shine.

3. Never between 6-7PM

After carefully counting on both of my hands I was able to determine the worst time to send an email.

This time period was so crowded that more than 10% of all the emails in the study were sent during this hour chunk each day.

That is almost triple what an average hour should have received.

If you have read the graphs above you saw that 6-7 PM got the most emails of any period.

As you can see in the graph above if you decide to send your newsletter in this time period you are going to have some competition.

So I would avoid sending your newsletters during this period based on the jump in competition.

When you compare it to the times we already highlighted above there are 50x more emails during this period.

Even some of the times that got 5x more emails are looking pretty good to me right now.

Unless you want your open rates to plummet from that increased competition I would avoid sending from 6-7PM.

It does kind of make sense why brands would decide to send their weekly email at this time.

Their audience has made it home from their jobs and starting to relax. They should be pretty open to receiving a newsletter about their hobby, interest or activity.

But again, you are brawling in their inbox with a ton of other well-crafted emails for their attention.

Or it will be ignored and rolled into the next morning’s inbox clearing.

4. And avoid after 9PM or before 7AM

One of the easiest ways to fall into that morning deleting spree is to send your email late at night.

Like when your audience is sleeping, so they will see it in the morning.

I never really got the idea behind this practice.

Other than that brands think we want to read about the newest social media marketing tip at 6am.

I know that is the last thing on my mind at that time.

Now if it was an email about coffee being delivered to my bed that would be a different story.

But alas, I saw a ton of companies using this somewhat outdated topic.

We can access our emails at literally any time, the novelty of waking up to news or a newsletter no longer exists.

Or it is so far down the list in their inbox, they will never even see it.

Between 9PM and 7PM more than 60% of all emails in the study were sent.

With nearly 40% of them were sent between 9PM and 2AM. Or about double of what should have been sent if all things were equal.

That is a lot of emails your newsletter is going to be fighting.

Plus your audience is most likely not even awake, and the people who are up at that time probably don’t want to read your newsletter at that moment.

That means, you guessed it, that it will be put off until the next morning.

From there it goes right into the morning delete spree or simply forgotten about.

And all your hard work on the newsletter goes ignored.

Do not let your content be wasted because you chose the wrong time to send a great email.

5. Wednesdays & Saturdays Have Potential

Just like in the previous sections you are going to want to pick a day that has the least competition.

By sending your email on a day like this it is going to stand out like a beacon of good content.

The best day to send your email is Wednesday, with Saturday coming in at a close second.

As you can see they were some of the days to receive the least emails overall.

In our own tests we have seen Wednesday perform well, with some newsletters getting double the open rate of previous days.

I think that Wednesday is the perfect day to send your email newsletter.

Especially if your newsletter is related to their job or work.

They will feel a lot less guilty about losing themselves in your content for a few minutes.

Plus if it is really amazing they will want to share it with their coworkers!

And that means that if your topic deals with a fun hobby or interest I would send it on a Saturday.

Your audience will a lot more receptive to reading about something they could do later that day.

Or they will have a lot more time to absorb all of your fantastic content.

Either way both of these days are a great point to start testing to find what your own best day!

Before we go on I think it is important to highlight why I did not select Sunday as the best day.

I really think that it is too much of a wildcard day and the email could be lost in the shuffle of that day.

Then it gets pushed into the Monday morning mass inbox cleaning.

And although you may have loved to read the content you just don’t have time to.

This has happened to me too many times to count and I am guessing many people can relate.

6. Thursdays are the Worst Day to Send

Finding the best day to send an email was a little difficult and not very straightforward.

Thankfully the worst day was a lot easier to find.

And that day was Thursday.

thursday is the worst day to send an email newsletter

It received more than double the amount of emails when compared to Wednesday and Saturday.

Exactly 25% of all the emails were sent on a Thursday, with no other days really coming close.

That put it well above the 70 or so emails I received per day on average.

Some experts proclaiming that Tuesday and Thursday are the best days to send a newsletter probably cause this.

I am guessing that people have been blindly following this advice for the past few years.

And now we are in a situation where the best day to send an email has actually become the worst day.

Conclusion

So there you have it, the best and worst times for you to send an email newsletter!

I now need to go click unsubscribe on about 100 different emails.

Or I may just cut my losses with that email address from now on.

But that sacrifice of an email address was definitely worth it because I was able to get some interesting findings.

Those findings will hopefully keep you from sending an email newsletter at the wrong time or day.

Just remember:

  1. Send newsletters during these time blocks: 11-12 PM, 1-2 PM & 2-3 PM.
  2. Between 9 and 11 AM is another great block of time.
  3. If your newsletter is related to their job, send it during the workday.
  4. Do not send newsletters at peak work movement hours, like 8 AM and 5 PM.
  5. Emails sent during the night or early mornings are a bad idea.
  6. Thursday is the worst day to send an email.
  7. Mondays and Fridays should be avoided as well.
  8. But the best day to send a newsletter is on Wednesday.

And finally, it is important to remember to test all of these findings with your audience first. These tips should always be used a testing points for your new emails, not set in stone facts.

About Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics combines behavioral analytics with email automation. Our software tracks actions of your users across multiple devices allowing you to analyze, segment and engage your customers with automatic, behavior-based emails in one place. We call it Customer Engagement Automation. Get, keep and grow more customers with Kissmetrics.

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About the Author: Ryan McCready went to the University of Arkansas and graduated with a degree in economics and international business. Now instead of studying the economy he writes about everything and enjoys stirring the pot.

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Why Your Business Credit Score Matters When Applying for a Small Business Loan

Why Your Business Credit Score Matters When Applying for a Small Business Loan

More than half of small businesses have not built a credit score. And that can be a major problem when those businesses seek out financing to grow their business.

Small Business Trends recently sat down with Rania Succar, head of QuickBooks Capital, to discuss the importance of business credit scores and planning ahead for financing your small business’s growth.

One of the biggest issues that Succar believes is overlooked by small business owners is the need to grow their credit scores in order to get the capital they need.

Why Your Business Credit Score Matters

Succar explained, “One of the things you need to think about is having a business credit score. A lot of small businesses don’t think about that. They think about their personal credit score. More than half of small businesses have not built a business credit score. And when you go to borrow, that can really hurt you in terms of what you can get.”

And a business credit score doesn’t just impact the amount or the rate of your loan. It can also help you avoid tricky situations where you might end up with a last minute financing solution that has less than ideal terms for your business.

Succar said, “We know that 70 percent of small businesses need capital to grow. But you need to plan for it. It’s not just the type of thing that you want to get into a situation where you need it overnight and you get yourself into terms that are not good for your business.”

Overall, Succar says that small businesses can avoid these difficult situations by planning ahead and thinking about capital opportunities early on, even if you don’t need the money right away. If you grow your credit score, evaluate opportunities and keep an eye on rates and trends, you can have a much better chance of getting the capital you need to grow without putting your business at risk.

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International Recruitment: How to Stop Overseas Assignments From Failing

Anecdotally, international relocation often goes one of two ways: Either the expat loves their new home, or they cannot stand being apart from their motherland. When it comes to corporate relocation and overseas assignments, the picture isn’t so black and white. Many factors contribute to the failure of international work, ranging from the nearly benign to irrevocable dissolution. Yet, no matter where their problem sits on the severity scale, alarming quantities of workers are leaving international roles with their job unfinished.

Forty percent of international assignments are judged to end in failure – a statistic that may seem surprising, but it really shouldn’t be. Historically, failure rates have been the same for decades. Records reaching back to the 1960s and the dawn of our new interconnected age display evidence of overseas roles being abandoned in much the same percentages as we see in 2017. This is a major cause for concern. The average international assignment will cost a business around $110,000 to $125,000 before wages are even considered. As a result, companies in the U.S. are spending over $300,000 annually on their overseas assignees and associated costs. If 40 percent of assignments are failures, then 40 percent of that is considered to be wasted. $120,000 a year per company is the price tag of not learning from our mistakes.

But why aren’t we learning from our mistakes? This problem has existed, within the knowledge of global HR, for half a century. There are, of course, some aspects of international assignments that cannot be controlled or prepared for; such is life. A 100 percent success rate goal would be unrealistic and unattainable, but surely we can do better than the current 40 percent. Many believe we can. Multiple recent studies have isolated the core reasons recruiters believe their international assignments fail, and with this knowledge, we can hope to improve success rates and cut down on wasted expenses.

Hire the right candidate

Recruiters are adept at looking for the right traits in people, but what are the right traits for somebody suited for an overseas job? Experience and career expertise is one thing, yet there are far more valuable characteristics to seek out in those applying for a job abroad.

Temptation favors the hiring of executives with years of experience who operate at a very high level, but decades working within a comfort zone does not translate to success in international markets. Resilience is a key trait that recruiters should be looking for. Pressure on international working assignments goes above that of a domestic job, especially in the early stages. Personalities that are suited for high-pressure environments can be far more valuable for these types of roles, even if their experience is comparatively low.

These are some other skills and traits recruiters must look out for:

  • Communication – Candidates face massive challenges in communication when moving abroad. If they lack strong communication skills now, they’ll be well out of their depth abroad.

  • Adaptability – Moving overseas is a huge task, with a lot of new and sometimes daunting commitments and obligations. Candidates must prove they can adapt to new situations and meet the challenges like a local.

  • Confidence – A candidate uncertain of their ability to succeed, no matter how good you feel they would be at the job, should be immediately discarded. Overseas assignments take self-determination and belief. Without it, they are all but certain to fail.

  • Experienced – Does your candidate have experience living or working abroad? Those untested are bigger risks. Even long-term traveling, volunteering or schooling abroad is valuable in this circumstance.

  • Social integration – Overcoming issues such as being unsettled require assignees to integrate with the world around them and view the foreign nation as their home. Isolation leads to problems that result in repatriation. If your candidate is not a community-minded person and lacks many links to their current world, it is unlikely they will spread roots in their new home, making them more likely to face said isolation and the problems it causes.

Family matters

When trying to decipher the reasoning behind a failed international work assignment, HR professionals can be quick to look to working environment as a culprit. However, evidence suggests that it isn’t problems at the office that cause the majority of overseas assignments to crumble – it’s family. Issues with family settling in can result in up to 70 percent of early repatriations. While the assignee may have been the perfect person for the role, their families were not the perfect fit for the placement.

As we’ve already discussed, recruiters for international hiring need to focus on a number of different characteristics of a candidate that differ from your typical domestic hire. However, they also need to shine a spotlight on the candidates’ partners and dependants, considering they play such an important role. An inability to become accustomed to their new home will make families want to leave. Despite the myth that most employees put work before family, this results in a high rate of assignment abandonment.

To avoid these issues, recruiters hiring for international assignments must consider three factors:

  • Is the family adaptable? Does the family have any experience living abroad? This can help when weighing up risk factors.

  • What are their concerns? Discuss with them their concerns and potential problems. Invite an open policy and try to determine what their potential barriers could be, and if they can be overcome.  

  • How can they be supported? Once you’ve selected a candidate and their family, listen to their feedback and concerns, taking time to ensure they are addressed. This could be finding the right accommodation and schools, or sorting little things like banks or transport options. It is also worth making sure they are established well post-move and well integrated with their new community. Providing things like area orientation and pathways for social engagement can be valuable methods of easing culture shock and getting families to feel like their new home is their actual home.  

Communication barriers

We all know the power of communication in the workplace. We all also understand that communication can be strained in a foreign nation. Through both language barriers and cultural differences, getting work done in a new country is always going to be tougher than getting it done in a place you are familiar with.

These are the biggest concerns of recruiters, with 87 percent focusing on finding recruits with appropriate language skills and a further half of global recruiters looking for those who have proved to be culturally adaptive. The practice makes sense. Cultural ignorance can lead to confusion and disrespectful acts that jeopardize work. Similarly, an inability to speak the language slows down processes and makes proper communication impossible. So if recruiters are actively seeking these types of candidates, why are cultural and communication barriers still a major cause of assignment failure?

It’s all to do with pre-move preparation. Finding people with the potential to adapt and overcome cultural barriers is one thing, but the actual practice is another matter entirely. Providing support resources for this is essential. Giving them educational tools on language and culture, offering firsthand advice such as meetings with soon-to-be colleagues or clients, and sending your prospect on fact-finding trips are all powerful methods of preparation that boost chances of success. Yet, few companies actually invest in these methods.

Seventy-five percent of businesses do not offer appropriate cultural education and preparation prior to a move, with 16 percent of brands providing nothing in the way of pre-move resources at all. Considering the cost of a move and the knowledge we have as to why international assignments fail, it seems baffling that so many companies are ignoring these essential preparation processes. Those responsible for managing overseas assignments should ensure appropriate training is provided on how to overcome specific cultural obstacles and barriers, even if candidates have experience overseas or have demonstrated previous abilities to overcome similar obstacles.

Every assignment abroad is different, and should be treated accordingly.

 

International Recruitment: How to Stop Overseas Assignments From Failing

Anecdotally, international relocation often goes one of two ways: Either the expat loves their new home, or they cannot stand being apart from their motherland. When it comes to corporate relocation and overseas assignments, the picture isn’t so black and white. Many factors contribute to the failure of international work, ranging from the nearly benign to irrevocable dissolution. Yet, no matter where their problem sits on the severity scale, alarming quantities of workers are leaving international roles with their job unfinished.

Forty percent of international assignments are judged to end in failure – a statistic that may seem surprising, but it really shouldn’t be. Historically, failure rates have been the same for decades. Records reaching back to the 1960s and the dawn of our new interconnected age display evidence of overseas roles being abandoned in much the same percentages as we see in 2017. This is a major cause for concern. The average international assignment will cost a business around $110,000 to $125,000 before wages are even considered. As a result, companies in the U.S. are spending over $300,000 annually on their overseas assignees and associated costs. If 40 percent of assignments are failures, then 40 percent of that is considered to be wasted. $120,000 a year per company is the price tag of not learning from our mistakes.

But why aren’t we learning from our mistakes? This problem has existed, within the knowledge of global HR, for half a century. There are, of course, some aspects of international assignments that cannot be controlled or prepared for; such is life. A 100 percent success rate goal would be unrealistic and unattainable, but surely we can do better than the current 40 percent. Many believe we can. Multiple recent studies have isolated the core reasons recruiters believe their international assignments fail, and with this knowledge, we can hope to improve success rates and cut down on wasted expenses.

Hire the right candidate

Recruiters are adept at looking for the right traits in people, but what are the right traits for somebody suited for an overseas job? Experience and career expertise is one thing, yet there are far more valuable characteristics to seek out in those applying for a job abroad.

Temptation favors the hiring of executives with years of experience who operate at a very high level, but decades working within a comfort zone does not translate to success in international markets. Resilience is a key trait that recruiters should be looking for. Pressure on international working assignments goes above that of a domestic job, especially in the early stages. Personalities that are suited for high-pressure environments can be far more valuable for these types of roles, even if their experience is comparatively low.

These are some other skills and traits recruiters must look out for:

  • Communication – Candidates face massive challenges in communication when moving abroad. If they lack strong communication skills now, they’ll be well out of their depth abroad.

  • Adaptability – Moving overseas is a huge task, with a lot of new and sometimes daunting commitments and obligations. Candidates must prove they can adapt to new situations and meet the challenges like a local.

  • Confidence – A candidate uncertain of their ability to succeed, no matter how good you feel they would be at the job, should be immediately discarded. Overseas assignments take self-determination and belief. Without it, they are all but certain to fail.

  • Experienced – Does your candidate have experience living or working abroad? Those untested are bigger risks. Even long-term traveling, volunteering or schooling abroad is valuable in this circumstance.

  • Social integration – Overcoming issues such as being unsettled require assignees to integrate with the world around them and view the foreign nation as their home. Isolation leads to problems that result in repatriation. If your candidate is not a community-minded person and lacks many links to their current world, it is unlikely they will spread roots in their new home, making them more likely to face said isolation and the problems it causes.

Family matters

When trying to decipher the reasoning behind a failed international work assignment, HR professionals can be quick to look to working environment as a culprit. However, evidence suggests that it isn’t problems at the office that cause the majority of overseas assignments to crumble – it’s family. Issues with family settling in can result in up to 70 percent of early repatriations. While the assignee may have been the perfect person for the role, their families were not the perfect fit for the placement.

As we’ve already discussed, recruiters for international hiring need to focus on a number of different characteristics of a candidate that differ from your typical domestic hire. However, they also need to shine a spotlight on the candidates’ partners and dependants, considering they play such an important role. An inability to become accustomed to their new home will make families want to leave. Despite the myth that most employees put work before family, this results in a high rate of assignment abandonment.

To avoid these issues, recruiters hiring for international assignments must consider three factors:

  • Is the family adaptable? Does the family have any experience living abroad? This can help when weighing up risk factors.

  • What are their concerns? Discuss with them their concerns and potential problems. Invite an open policy and try to determine what their potential barriers could be, and if they can be overcome.  

  • How can they be supported? Once you’ve selected a candidate and their family, listen to their feedback and concerns, taking time to ensure they are addressed. This could be finding the right accommodation and schools, or sorting little things like banks or transport options. It is also worth making sure they are established well post-move and well integrated with their new community. Providing things like area orientation and pathways for social engagement can be valuable methods of easing culture shock and getting families to feel like their new home is their actual home.  

Communication barriers

We all know the power of communication in the workplace. We all also understand that communication can be strained in a foreign nation. Through both language barriers and cultural differences, getting work done in a new country is always going to be tougher than getting it done in a place you are familiar with.

These are the biggest concerns of recruiters, with 87 percent focusing on finding recruits with appropriate language skills and a further half of global recruiters looking for those who have proved to be culturally adaptive. The practice makes sense. Cultural ignorance can lead to confusion and disrespectful acts that jeopardize work. Similarly, an inability to speak the language slows down processes and makes proper communication impossible. So if recruiters are actively seeking these types of candidates, why are cultural and communication barriers still a major cause of assignment failure?

It’s all to do with pre-move preparation. Finding people with the potential to adapt and overcome cultural barriers is one thing, but the actual practice is another matter entirely. Providing support resources for this is essential. Giving them educational tools on language and culture, offering firsthand advice such as meetings with soon-to-be colleagues or clients, and sending your prospect on fact-finding trips are all powerful methods of preparation that boost chances of success. Yet, few companies actually invest in these methods.

Seventy-five percent of businesses do not offer appropriate cultural education and preparation prior to a move, with 16 percent of brands providing nothing in the way of pre-move resources at all. Considering the cost of a move and the knowledge we have as to why international assignments fail, it seems baffling that so many companies are ignoring these essential preparation processes. Those responsible for managing overseas assignments should ensure appropriate training is provided on how to overcome specific cultural obstacles and barriers, even if candidates have experience overseas or have demonstrated previous abilities to overcome similar obstacles.

Every assignment abroad is different, and should be treated accordingly.