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English may be the global language of business, but for Starvox founder Corey Ross, taking his shows on the road required hiring staff who could talk the local talk. His Toronto-based company produces, manages and promotes theatrical performances around the world, and counts Mexico as a major market.

Read: Latin America’s Wild West Business Culture

“Most of the senior business people we work with [in Mexico] speak English, so the deal-making is in English,” says Ross. “But all of the project’s execution—talking with box office staff, dealing with local media, getting stuff delivered from the border—is done in Spanish.” By practical necessity, his team now includes two Canadians who speak fluent Spanish and serve as go-betweens.

Recruiting people with the right skillset for non-English-speaking markets isn’t easy—Ross lucked out through word-of-mouth referrals—so here are five successful search strategies used by HR industry pros.

1. Call on the community. If advertising in language-specific media is too rich for your budget, there are plenty of low-cost alternatives: Try approaching country-specific trade offices, newcomer associations or settlement programs (such as those offered at your local YMCA), suggests Maurice Fernandes, manager of strategic recruitment initiatives at Ceridian Canada. “You could also go to places of worship specific to the ethnic or language groups you’re targeting, or go to post-secondary institutions. Most, if not all, support different language clubs.” Plus, you could find language professors well plugged into the community you’re interested in.

2. Conduct targeted online searches. The Internet can be a powerful recruitment tool, but look beyond big, multipurpose job boards like Workopolis, which can be far too broad. “They tend to fit more generic jobseekers,” explains Hilary Predy, associate vice-president of Adecco Global Mobility Program, who talks up the advantages of social media instead. If you need someone specific—say, a Tagalong-speaker in Winnipeg—search Facebook and LinkedIn for local language clubs. You can also try Google community sites catering to the ethnic/language group you want.

3. Be aware of different dialects and nuances. Latin American Spanish isn’t the same as European Spanish, just as Quebecois French differs from Parisian French, says Fernandes. Likewise, there are myriad dialects of Chinese, so be specific about what you’re looking for when undertaking your search.

4. Enlist experts. If you don’t have someone on staff capable of judging your candidates’ foreign-language skills, you could outsource the task to an instructor/professor, or a translation services firm. Know what you need: Will your hire be required to manage formal business dealings, or is the ability to carry on a casual conversation sufficient? Do you need written skills, too?

5. Expect some trade-offs. If your candidate possesses the right degree of fluency but lacks some other skills, consider whether it’s a worthwhile tradeoff, advises Fernandes. “What can you teach, versus what is a must-have?” Training a recent immigrant about Canadian workplace best practices, for instance, is much easier than learning a whole new language.

“When we were interviewing, we sure met a lot of people from all over the world who applied,” says Ross. But the time and effort were well worth it: Knocking down the language barrier is not only critical to making his Mexico shows logistically possible, it also generates goodwill with his business contacts. “The Mexicans we work with are very pleased that we have people who speak Spanish, and always very interested in how they learned the language.”

Related: Beware the Culture Vulture

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