How to write perfect foreign language job descriptions to reach top international candidates

Foreign-born candidates are rapidly joining the U.S. job market. Candidates who come from another country often bring the benefit of being bilingual and having an increased perspective on foreign cultures and markets, fresh ideas, alternative points of view… It’s time to diversify your workforce!

To reach potential future employees from overseas it is crucial to post job descriptions in a wide variety of languages to read the widest possible audience. But how can you rest assured that you are representing your company well in your target language? BeTranslated takes a closer look.

According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Last year, foreign-born employees comprised 17.4% of the U.S. labor force, which is over 28 million people.
  • Foreign-born employees were mostly employed in managerial positions (32.7%) and in-office jobs (14.9%), as well as service occupations (23.3%), maintenance occupations (14.0%), and production occupations (15.0).
  • As a result of the high demand for foreign-born job candidates, their median weekly pay has increased to $758.

Nowadays, many foreign-born workers are highly-qualified and hired for top-positions.

Companies want an international workforce

There’re a number of ways in which companies can benefit from hiring foreign-born employees:

  • foreigners bring their unique experience to your workplace
  • they also bring their knowledge of foreign markets, which can be beneficial for companies that are going international
  • they enrich workplace culture

There’s also a common misunderstanding that companies only hire international candidates to fill job positions that no citizens want. However, from the report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mentioned above, you can see that more and more foreigners are hired for managerial positions and in-office jobs.

This has become possible because of globalization and the rapid growth of the global economy, with so many companies going international and forming strong international teams.

Job description as a link between the employer and the foreign candidate

A job description is the first medium that connects an employer and a candidate from overseas. But because we’re talking about hiring a foreigner, a job description should provide as many details about the job as possible. And, these details, of course, should be communicated in the language understood by both the employer and the foreign-born job candidate.

So, let’s take a look at how to write perfect job descriptions in foreign languages to hire the best international applicants.

Disclaimer: we won’t be covering the general rules of writing job descriptions but rather the rules that can be applied to writing a job description to attract foreign candidates.

1. Pay attention to the length of the job description

There’s always a debate regarding what length a job description should be. Some say it’s between 400-500 words, others claim it should be even shorter.

According to the Job Description Writing Guide by the University of Pittsburgh, a job description should be less than 1000 words containing only information based on the needs of the department that an employee will join. It should concisely touch upon the most critical duties and responsibilities, and the rest can be discussed during the interview.

This is not the case with a job description in a foreign language, however.

When translating a job description into a foreign language, it’s paramount to keep in mind the specifics of the target language. For instance, when translating a job description from English to Russian, or indeed writing it directly in Russian, you should be prepared that the target text will contain at least 20% more words than its English equivalent. This happens due to a number of reasons:

  • Russian is a synthetic language, meaning that it relies on inflection (addition of morphemes – parts of words) to form a sentence. English, on the contrary, is an analytic language, which relies on word order. Because Russian doesn’t rely on word order as much as English, you can place the words in a sentence in a different order, and the sentence won’t lose its meaning, although it can be longer than its English counterpart.
  • Some specificities of Russian grammar and syntactic constructions cause lengthy sentences.

So, when writing a job description in a foreign language, to avoid making it too lengthy, it is essential to estimate the proportion between the length of the job description and its contents. You can make your job description about 1000 words long, but you should list as many details as possible to help the candidates make a well-informed decision.

2. Take into account cultural differences

To hire the top talent from abroad, it is also necessary to keep in mind cultural differences when writing a job description.

Language is the carrier of culture, disregarding it may make your job description sound disrespectful. Besides, you risk leaving out some culturally sensitive details that a foreigner may not recognize.

Let’s take a look at some culture-related issues when it comes to writing a job description in Chinese or translating it from English to Chinese:

  • Different cultural values – an example of this can be seen in the different holidays which are celebrated. It’s advisable to include details of holidays into a job description, making sure that their cultural needs will be met at a new workplace.
  • Different political background – you must ensure that a job description is also politically correct. Since a job description for foreign candidates often includes relocation and visa details, this information should be worded correctly to avoid misinterpretation.

When it comes to cultural differences, it’s better to have your job description proofread by a native speaker. Although you can do your research online, it’s easy to miss significant mistakes that will lead to misunderstanding. To avoid this, you can employ professional translation services, or professional writers from platforms like TrustMyPaper (an online hub of writers from many countries around the world), Studicus (offers help from native speakers to write job descriptions) or WowGrade (has a writing forum, where native speakers can help you proofread your job description).

So, to write a job description that attracts the best foreign-born job candidates taking into account the cultural differences is essential to help the employer and the candidate fully understand each other.

3. Don’t forget to localize your job descriptions

Recently localization has become a crucial part of writing content, creating websites, and even launching an international marketing strategy. Its main aim is clear – to make the message understood by the target audience.

Localization also plays a considerable role in writing job descriptions in foreign languages. Common localization mistakes usually include:

  • Failure to localize dates and times properly.
  • Failure to localize measurements. If you hire a truck driver, for instance, in a job description you may indicate how many miles they would have to drive daily. But if a truck driver is from the country where the imperial system is not used, understanding ‘miles’ could be a problem.
  • Confusing terms. Even between British and American English some terms may be confused. For instance, if you’re planning on hiring a construction crew from Britain, to build a new block of houses, be careful with the word ‘block’, as in Britain it means ‘block of flats’ rather than houses.

There are numerous localization mistakes that can cause misunderstanding between an employer and a job candidate from overseas. If a date format, for instance, is not localized correctly, a job candidate may misunderstand the application deadline and you may lose many perfectly good job candidates because of one, seemingly innocent mistake.

Concluding thoughts

You may wonder why you can’t just write a job description in English. It is an international language and all potential job candidates from overseas should speak it fluently, right?

Fair question. However, this is not always the case.

If you’re targeting employees from China, for instance, finding common ground in English could be a problem since only 10 million out of 1.3 billion people in China speak English.

Writing a job description in a foreign language requires a lot of attention to cultural details and expert localization. With the above-mentioned rules in mind, you’ll be more confident when writing a job description that will attract the top talent from overseas.

In order to ensure top quality translations of your job descriptions, why not hire a professional service, such as BeTranslated? Contact us today for more information or to get a quote and tap into the rich pool of international job candidates.