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Hiring Millennials: How to Take Advantage of the International Relocation Boom

Heather Darby
Updated Jun 29, 2022

Gen Y is rapidly moving abroad. How can you tap into the overseas millennial talent?

“Millennial” is a strange term. You would be forgiven for thinking it refers to those born after the year 2000, but that is not the case. The concept actually revolves around the idea of growing up in the noughties, which means a member of Generation Y, or a millennial, was born sometime between the ’80s and late ’90s.

This explains why millennial culture is now so frequently referenced in our daily lives. It places these people in the 20-30 age bracket. They aren’t kids anymore. They are the up-and-comers, the new innovators, the next stage in the evolution of Western society. They are the future, but also the present.

Millennial culture is very different from the previous generation in a number of ways, which is an article in itself. Today, though, we’re exploring just one aspect of Generation Y culture: relocation on an international scale.

Millennials are more prone to moving abroad than any other generation. Generation Y is taking to the skies and settling down in new international locations in record numbers. As of 2017, the number of millennials moving overseas in some countries has risen by 60 percent – which isn’t surprising when you also consider that 60 percent of all U.S.-based millennials would move abroad for a job. The 20-30 population is on the move, and now is the time for recruiters to set their sights on enticing these globe-trotting talents into their ranks.

But this proposition begs an important question …

Why should you care about hiring international millennials?

Millennials are a group that should never be undervalued. Research conducted by the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School outlined a number of unique benefits associated with the hiring of Generation Y, including the following:

  • Focus on experience, development and career progression

  • Highly qualified workforce

  • Tech-savvy and community-minded

  • Forward-thinking and innovative

  • Expressive and open to collaboration

  • Less money-minded and more cost-effective to hire

These benefits all sound great, but why go looking for international talent when there are plenty of millennials in your own backyard to hire? Well, acquiring international talent in the form of workers from Generation Y has its own benefits:

  • Diversification – Bringing on overseas millennials helps keep your workplace young and full of fresh ideas, while also introducing new cultures and customs that can prove beneficial to operations.

  • Global links – Gen Y is not without experience. Hiring overseas millennials can bring connections and networking opportunities with international brands, as well as a knowledge of foreign markets and customs.

  • Larger talent pool – For positions where talent is hard to come by, branching overseas expands the talent pool available, ensuring you acquire the most suitable candidates.

  • Different skills and education backgrounds – Different countries have different education systems with different focuses. Different countries also have different ideas of quality careers. Hiring overseas millennials allows you to take advantage of those differences while they are still fresh in a young person’s mind.  

  • Lower costs – Many millennials are hungry for experience and a chance to prove themselves. Many are also qualified and have experience in their industries, although a lack of long-term career progression means their expected wages can be significantly lower than those of Generation X.

How to attract international millennials to your business

We’ve established the why of recruiting millennials, but what about the how? How do you attract the talent of Generation Y, specifically the talent overseas?

Make your case to them online

Our world is now hyperconnected. The internet has made communication with somebody on the other side of the world as easy as chatting to somebody across a desk. According to the American Press Institute, 90 percent of millennials are online all the time, most of the time or about as often as they are offline. The web is the platform of Generation Y – which means this is where you start. Advertise your interest in hiring international candidates online, and specifically go after millennials through social media and other marketing channels. Go where the talent is and you’ll find your talent.

Appeal to their traveler sensibilities

Millennials have a serious case of wanderlust. Many of them yearn to travel. This gives you, as an international recruiter, an advantage over rival companies of domestic territories. Travel is a primary driver of Generation Y, but it is also expensive and doesn’t lead to long-term stability. However, working abroad can satisfy millennials’ travel craving while also moving them forward in their careers. Appeal to that sense of adventure. When trying to attract international millennials, make the case for the benefits of traveling to your particular corner of the world. Heavily promote the attractions, culture and experiences that can satiate their hunger for travel.

Offer them real structure and support

Moving to another country and starting a new life is daunting, even for the most confident of millennials. Many in this generation are young and inexperienced in such lifestyle changes. The key to onboarding the best talent is to minimize the effects of doubt by making the whole notion of moving overseas less imposing. How do you do that? With a stable structure of support. This essentially means a strong HR campaign during and after the move. Assistance in all aspects of relocating overseas – such as acquiring a visa, finding relocation services, adapting to the new culture and easing into their new job – can help ensure millennials are not only drawn to your business, but remain part of your workforce too.

Outline the benefits, perks and rewards

As touched upon above, millennials are not so much money-focused as they are geared toward life experience, opportunities to progress, mobility, flexibility and completion of personal ambitions. To really sell your international role to overseas millennials, bargain with perks, benefits and rewards of recruitment, rather than throwing around larger salary numbers. Generation Y is looking for a few things:

  • The potential to advance in their careers through job mobility and additional training opportunities

  • The flexibility of a freelancer with the stability of a full-time contract

  • A focus on good and fair management practices

  • To pursue a passion for a particular job, field or industry

If you can offer millennials these benefits and tick the boxes they are looking for, you are far more likely to attract quality overseas talent to your business.


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Heather Darby
Experienced contributor to HR and Business publications, expert in international relocation projects, dealing with everything from personal moves to full-scale corporate relocation. Heather has been working in the industry for many years and is keen to share her knowledge and insight with other members of the business community.