Hiring Foreign Talent is Advantageous to Your Startup’s Success and Culture


Hiring is hard, especially for startups. The good news is that you can broaden your search beyond US borders, and you may find your next superstar employee in the process. A Harvard Business School study found that immigrants have a disproportionately higher knack for entrepreneurship. Exactly the trait you need to succeed.

Let’s set a few potential hiring scenarios: you’re a small startup working with two other people at a co-working space and you need to hire a data-savvy growth hacker to boost digital marketing. Maybe you have a dozen employees and you’ve secured a few million dollars in funding and you need another talented engineer. Even if you have hundreds of employees, every hire is critical.

Finding the best candidate is important for a startup of any size, and you simply can’t lose precious months, and dollars, on the wrong hire. Startups move fast, and you need employees who can keep up.

Startup Ethos

Startups come in all shapes and sizes, cover a myriad of industries from pharmaceutical tech to mobile dating apps, and span the alphabet soup from AI to VR. However, there are a few commonalities between startups that typically need to be reflected in their employees. And it’s exactly these characteristics that immigrants tend to embody.

Startup employees must embody a startup ethos: comfortable with uncertainty and a can-do attitude. Starting a company is, after all, full of unknowns. Rather than collecting a paycheck with certainty, entrepreneurs opt for a high-risk, high-reward endeavor. Nataly Kelly from the Harvard Business Review refers to this attribute as the “growth mindset,” where entrepreneurs believe “their talents are not stagnant” and that “they can do more by working hard, coming up with good strategies, and taking input from others.”

Kelly equates the growth mindset to the “immigrant mindset,” concluding that, “[p]eople who are willing to uproot their lives in search of something better are the types of people who are determined to make change happen themselves.” And this makes sense – immigrants are by nature throwing themselves into a new environment, new landscape, new language, new culture. In order for them to survive, and indeed thrive, they must believe that they can work hard, strategize, and build a life for themselves.

It’s exactly this mindset, or ethos, that startups look for in their employees. Read any startup job description: invariably somewhere toward the bottom it will say something like, “must be capable of wearing multiple hats.” That’s startup speak for, “we’re hiring you as an engineer, but you may need to help with customer service inquiries, run to the bank to deposit a check, or help create marketing content. The immigrant mindset suggests international hires are ready for such day-to-day change.

Agile Mentality

It’s not just the ability to withstand change that makes a strong startup employee. It’s also the ability to embrace change and handle it swiftly. It’s this very mindset that allows immigrants to succeed when they leave their home and establish roots somewhere new.

Forbes columnist Catherine Wines agrees, adding that entrepreneurs “continually adapt to the world’s changing environment. Similarly, immigrants embrace an adaptable attitude as they leave their home to travel to new countries. In these new settings, immigrants are required to adapt to new cultures, new markets and new laws.”

So it makes sense that immigrants can take drastic changes in the workplace in stride. After all, it’s how they got here in the first place and why they’re pursuing a job at your startup. The very mindset that brought them here will motivate them to run that check to the bank or help with a new instagram campaign at a moment’s notice.

International Intuition

There’s also benefit in having someone on the inside who knows what it’s like… on the outside. For example, if you run a B2C startup with a large immigrant user base, an employee from that country can help your startup adapt to that your immigrant user population. Alternatively, if you run a B2B startup, maybe there’s potential for international expansion into the area of the world your foreign-born employee is from. Better yet, they may even help get your company’s foot in the door.

The American Bar Association put it best: “Companies can transcend the challenges of conducting business in a global market by hiring a diverse international team of employees possessing deep cultural awareness. A diverse team provides insight into global issues and the breadth and depth of conducting business in foreign countries.” If you’re a startup looking to enter a global market, having foreign-born employees, especially from the region you’d like to enter, is huge for business.

The World Economic Forum, when researching immigration-fueled diversity, concluded that hiring internationally is good for economic growth, going as far as to recommend more openness to immigration in order to reap the benefits of a larger pool of individuals from around the world.

It’s Not as Difficult as You May Think

The research is clear: immigration is good for the economy, and hiring immigrants is good for your business. Having an international staff won’t just help your startup make it through the early stage rollercoaster ride, it’ll set it up your company for long-term success with an informed position toward potential global expansion.

This sounds great, but now you’re probably thinking: isn’t hiring foreign nationals a long, complicated and expensive process?

It used to be.

Legalpad.io simplifies the immigration process for companies looking to hire international talent.

If you already have that perfect employee in mind, and they happen to need a visa, check us out. Or if you want to say hi and learn more about us, reach out to us anytime!