About a year ago, I called a local hospital to see if they had any staffing problems in their clinical laboratory. I was surprised to hear from the laboratory director that they had zero vacancies: “Zero vacancies?” I thought. But then I learned that this hospital had recruited about six international candidates to work in their lab.
Seeing firsthand how this strategy could help understaffed labs in the US, I dedicated myself to helping solve the field’s current biggest challenge—recruitment.
Here are three pros and cons of using international recruitment to staff your lab that every leader should know.
- Candidate qualifications: We recommend looking at medical laboratory professionals that have their ASCPi (International ASCP Certification) and a minimum of three or more years of generalist experience.
- Long-term commitment: Because of the complexities and costs of international recruitment, employers can ask for a long-term commitment from the candidates they are considering hiring. In fact, we find that candidates are happy to commit to working with one employer for three to five years. Most will even stay longer if they like where they work.
- Providing an actual solution: International recruitment is one of the best solutions to help alleviate staff shortages. International candidates are not short-term help, nor do they make high rates like temporary or traveling workers. They are paid the same wages as internal staff and are committed to working with your lab for at least three to five years so that laboratories can focus on operations instead of staffing shortages.
- Legal requirements: International recruitment is complicated but can be easily understood after spending some time reviewing the process. Employers can do this on their own by partnering with an immigration lawyer, or they can work with an experienced international recruitment agency to help guide them through the process.
- Time: International recruitment can be a lengthy process, ranging from five months to three years to hire candidates. The most popular recruitment method is using an H-1B specialty occupation visa, which is a US work visa that lasts three years but can sometimes be extended up to a maximum of six years. During the initial three-year period, an employer usually sponsors a candidate’s permanent resident card, or green card, application as well. Employers who use this method can expect candidates to arrive in six to twelve months.
- Cost: International recruitment can appear expensive at first, but compared to hiring temporary workers, it is quite cost-efficient. Nonetheless, it is expensive to recruit international candidates. The cost to sponsor a candidate on an H-1B visa is around $10,000, and the cost of helping a candidate obtain a green card is around $15,000. Organizations should also budget to provide international candidates housing/travel allowances to help them get settled in the US.
Understanding international recruitment
In conclusion, the hardest part for employers is learning about and understanding how international recruitment works. Though this method was usually reserved for rural areas, with national laboratory staffing shortages, it is becoming an increasingly common method of recruitment.