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Worldwide remote jobs market may globalize hiring

The outlook for worldwide remote job opportunities is creating an opportunity for startup Oyster, which enables overseas hiring. It reached $1 billion valuation in two years.

The U.S. Labor Department reported Tuesday 11.5 million job openings for the end of March, a new high and a signal of a highly competitive labor market. To meet this demand for labor, more U.S. companies, now comfortable with remote work, may be recruiting overseas -- at least that's what investors are expecting.

Oyster HR Inc., a startup based in Charlotte, N.C., that enables hiring in 180 countries, is only two years old, but has a $1 billion-plus valuation after recently closing $150 million in a new round of funding. Its backers included Okta, an authentication provider; Salesforce Ventures, the company's investment arm; LinkedIn; HR Tech Investments, an affiliate of recruiting firm Indeed; and Slack Fund, the company's venture fund, among others.

The demand for knowledge workers and the experience employers gained with remote work has increased interest in worldwide remote hiring, said Tony Jamous, Oyster's co-founder and CEO.

Employers have "figured out a model of enabling people to be effective no matter where they are," Jamous said.

[Employers have] figured out a model of enabling people to be effective no matter where they are.
Tony JamousCo-founder and CEO, Oyster

Oyster has legal entities in each country to ensure that employers meet all local rules and regulations regarding benefits, taxes, pay and compliance, all managed by users through a software platform. Oyster, as the HR tech provider, issues the paychecks and operates as the legal employer in each country.

Other firms also provide country-by-country compliance services for employers. In January, for instance, Globalization Partners, a Boston-based professional employer organization, received a $200 million investment, raising its valuation to $4.2 billion, it said.

Hiring overseas a necessity

Hiring across national borders is becoming necessary, said Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Workplace Intelligence, an HR consultancy.

"Jobs are going to people more than people are going to jobs," Schawbel said. "With so many unfilled positions and the demand for growth, employers have been forced to broaden their applicant pools."

Employers are hiring worldwide because they know "that the technology is in place to maintain engagement, culture and productivity," Schawbel said.

Another change in hiring that enables worldwide remote jobs is skills-based hiring, Jamous said.

Employers are increasingly hiring tech workers based on how well they do on skills tests that verify skill levels, rather than relying on a resume, Jamous said. The testing approach is used with about 20% of people hired through Oyster's platform.

He said that Oyster, which employs about 500 people, is filling about 12,000 positions a month.

International workers don't necessarily need to be fluent in spoken English. Time zone differences mean that most communications will be in writing, so if workers are proficient in written English, that's good enough for most jobs, Jamous said.

A lot of international hiring is around tech skills, according to Oyster. But Victor Janulaitis, CEO at Janco Associates, a research firm in Park City, Utah, said that many IT managers "are reluctant to hire overseas employees unless they are U.S. expats" because of potential culture and management issues that might arise.

Working from home "is one thing for someone who knows our work culture, but a foreign national who does not know how and why we do something is a management nightmare waiting to happen," Janulaitis said.

Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.

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