The Advantages and Disadvantages of Hiring Locals over Expats

Ashok Reddy
3 min readAug 8, 2018


We are all aware that we live in a global community and that is a reality. For many HR professionals, it is becoming common to not only focus on a local workforce, but also a global one.

Many HR network contributors have also shared their views about hiring international co-workers to help grow business and train new employees in a foreign country. In this article, let’s look at the other side of the coin: hiring locals over expats.

According to the Financial Times an employee who is sent to live abroad for a set time period is called an expatriate employee. An expatriate is expected to relocate abroad, with or without family, for as short a period as six months to a year; typical expat assignments, usually, range from two to five years.

Advantages of Hiring Locals for your International Business:

  1. Knowledge of the local culture and business practices

Local candidates understand the culture in which they live. That means they can navigate potential problems with greater ease. That usually translates to higher productivity and a decrease in financial loss, if any.

2. Locals are fluent in the language and can manage workers using local resources

Often, HR professionals and those doing the hiring get stuck on whether the employee speaks the language which is native to the company. For example, an American company may favor an English-speaking expat over a local… even if the local candidate is ahead of the other candidate. Don’t let the language keep you from hiring the best person for the job.

3.Cost much less than expats

Hiring an expat can cost up to two-three times more than hiring a local candidate. Costs include everything from the expats normal salary to relocation costs, and language and cultural training. Those costs by the way aren’t just for the expat, but also the expat’s family.

4 Encourages Diversity

Hiring locals means diversifying the workforce. It also gives a company a better chance at growing business abroad and in different ways.

Disadvantages of Hiring Locals for your International Business

  1. The people with the necessary job skills could be limited

Depending upon the product, your choice of candidates may be limited. That doesn’t mean a company can’t hire local and then train the new workforce. It just means more money and time spent bringing the local workforce up to the expected skill level.

2. Locals may not understand the company’s values or common practices

Depending upon where a particular company was founded, it’s fair to say it derives some of its values and common practices from its country of origin. Transplanting those to another country and another culture can be problematic.

Hiring local over expatriates or vice versa is a big decision. Here are some things to consider.

Make sure to focus decisions on the local culture. Is the foreign culture similar enough to the one where the company is already located? Are there ways to learn from the foreign culture and work some of its best qualities into the business model?

Think of the big picture. If the company is opening an office branch in a foreign country, what are the future plans? Will the company continue to grow into other countries? If so, try to plan for that eventuality. Construct a global plan and pick places that make sense based on where the company is already located.

For workers to keep earning, they have to keep learning.