If you are involved in the recruitment side of human resources, you already know that a great employee is hard to find. Good candidates abound, but your Holy Grail is finding the standout who will contribute to the company, provide the most value for money, and be recognized by senior management and colleagues as a real “find.”  You know these things and, yet, how many languages are you actively using in your recruitment efforts?  If the answer is only one or two, you’re potentially missing some amazing candidates. Even in the US, long known for its linguistic homogeneity, multilingualism is growing fast. But don’t fret: we’ll get you back on track by laying out some ways to leverage language diversity to maximize your recruitment and hiring success.

Support multilingual recruitment efforts with professional translation services

Routine is the enemy of recruiting success. If you’re in the habit of posting openings to the same old same old lists, there’s a good chance you’re missing out on qualified candidates. The quickest way to break this routine is to expand to multilingual listings as well as listings in other regions and countries. Don’t be lazy and pop your job description into Google Translate: you’re sure to get things wrong and embarrass yourself. Rather, seek out top-tier professional translation services, vet them, and select one. 

The Benefit of Involving Translators in the Employee Vetting Process

If you follow this advice, it’s highly likely that the job applications you receive will be in a broader selection of languages. Don’t panic. Remember that the relative cost of vetting job applications is insignificant compared to the benefit of having a wide pool of applicants and maximizing the chances of finding someone truly excellent, regardless of language. Bear in mind that privacy considerations are involved, so it’s wise to cover your application process legally by inserting a disclaimer in your terms and conditions of the submission process that applications may be reviewed by translators.

These don’t need to be certified translators, and you may be able to get by with freelance translation resources found in marketplaces like Upwork and Freelancer.com. However, there are two potential alternatives to hiring professional translators that can save time and money. One is to request that applications be in a language in which you have capable in-house staff. Another is to run income applications that look promising through Google Translate. The translation may not be perfect but you can obtain the “gist” of each application without further ado.

Involve interpreters in the interviews of shortlisted candidates

Many companies take a “my way or the highway” approach to recruitment. They think: we’re doing the hiring, so it will be on our terms, and (therefore) in our language. Wrong thinking. Recruitment is more successful if approached in a mutually respectful manner: a dance rather than a drill.  Treat promising candidates as you would a potential business partner: with respect and deference. These days most interpreters work remotely, by video, and the costs have become quite reasonable. In addition, many recruitment firms provide remote video interpretation services for just this purpose. Some companies prefer to use an interpreter as a backup and (sneaky but effective) have a psychologist or trained HR consultant observing behavior and body language for all-important “tells.” But an active interpreter can also provide valuable feedback about the candidate’s language skills.

Translate Best Practices when Managing a Multilingual Workforce

Globally dispersed, linguistically diverse workforces are becoming more and more common especially as remote working becomes increasingly widespread. Management needs to adapt by adopting and adapting best practices to reflect this changing reality. These practices include making language training available, encouraging the use of minority languages in the workplace, and internal team-building events that encourage linguistic and intercultural exchanges, ideally in a casual and enjoyable manner.

An important infrastructure factor which should be taken into account is the desirability of using multilingual HR software. This is especially important in enterprises that span multiple countries and languages. As the globalization and remote working trends are accelerated by the pandemic and its aftermath, multilingual software backed by professional translation services provides a foundation for scalable expansion beyond the barriers of national borders and languages.

“When Culture Doesn’t Translate”: Dealing with Linguistic Crises 

It will surprise no one if occasional conflicts and misunderstandings arise over linguistic and cultural differences. An article in Harvard Business Review covers breakdown which stems from varying responses to office situations and how to address them. Many of the problems arise from the fact that different cultures take different approaches to conflict resolution, management hierarchies, and expressions of dissent. 

Employees from Asian countries like China, Japan, and Thailand tend to be more passive in meeting with Western colleagues. Some of this may be attributable to a cultural tradition of deference to seniors in these societies. But there is also like to be a lack of confidence due to linguistic insecurity that can be addressed within the workplace. Companies increasingly use remote interpreters in this context as well so that multilingual conversations can be more productive. This is especially worthwhile to resolve a volatile HR conflict. It may cost a bit and take more time, but there are technical solutions to allow non-disruptive simultaneous translations.

Translating Mutual Understanding within the Multilingual Enterprise

Embedded within the consciousness of many of us is the desirability of a harmonious yet diverse workplace epitomized by the Starship Enterprise in the long-running TV and film franchise Star Trek. Each company with global ambitions embarks on a multi-year mission to go where no one has gone before. A key ingredient is a communication among the crew and tolerance for diversity. 

Some of the translation devices that seemed decades ago to be the stuff of science fiction are now included free in our smartphones. Leverage these personal tools like Google Translate’s voice interpreter and camera translator to break down linguistic barriers in your enterprise. Expect progress to be incremental not at warp speed. The “final frontier” of intercultural understanding may not soon be reached immediately, but the tools for approaching it are in our hands.