Headhunting for a senior project director with a love of adventure to work on a major infrastructure project in an exotic developing nation sounds like a job for Indiana Jones. But the task of attracting the right person has more challenges and pitfalls than you might expect.

Liaising with myriad client stakeholders in multiple continents often meant navigating complicated multi-regional structures. Maintaining a clear path through the search assignment sometimes became analogous to avoiding an avalanche; innumerable stakeholders all keen to be involved sometimes caused confusion within the client’s own organisation. Concurrent and multiple direct approaches from unwarranted headhunters also added to the rough terrain.

Not only did the candidate have to be willing to relocate to an isolated workplace in a developing country with poor existing infrastructure and challenging working conditions – there were also highly demanding criteria for technical skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience. This assessment scorecard made finding the Lost Ark seem like an easy task.

While some of the assessment criteria commonly applied in such developing regions would raise eyebrows in Australia, these are generally accepted as normal by those working in the sector’s international community. This demanded a highly diplomatic approach when making approach calls to both candidates and referral sources to ensure correct protocols were followed and managed with necessary care.

Under these strict criteria it was immediately clear that finding and securing suitable candidates would require extensive networking from an equally extensive pool of candidates and industry sources from across the globe. An exhaustive research assignment was performed, consisting of an initial talent map of over 100 potential candidates and sources, subsequently screened down to 50+ identified targets across 13 countries in 6 continents – of which all were contacted. Time zone calls at midnight and dawn to suit target candidates and referral sources based in remote locations in developing countries were further challenged by poor access to reliable internet and telephone networks; it was tough going at times.

Ultimately a stellar shortlist was delivered, the successful candidate located over 12,000km from my office here in Melbourne. The assignment was finally completed, through carefully managed negotiation of remuneration and living conditions (including bullwhip, fedora, and leather jacket) and ‘Dr Jones’ mobilised soon after. This placement certainly strengthened my client’s bidding position for future projects within the region.

While I would love the chance to visit the location of this exciting project, it is highly unlikely I’ll get a leave-pass with a baby due in October!

What’s the greatest challenge you’ve faced sourcing talent for a remote posting? I’d love to hear about it.