Foreign Companies Want Latinx in Tech. This Is How They Are Approaching Them

As tech talent becomes the battlefield for companies worldwide, Latin Americans appear as qualified and talent due to Latin America’s currencies - Part 2

Tech companies in LatAm dispute talent with Silicon Valley’s companies.
March 04, 2022 | 02:50 PM

Sao Paulo — As the pandemic shifted the ways of working worldwide, Latin Americans are seeking how to be hired abroad from Latin America.

(Bloomberg Línea will explore the new avenues for Latinx to get new IT jobs, mostly working from their hometown. So, probably no relocation and maybe not many perks, but with the added value of competitive salaries to spend locally. Read part 1 here. Part 3 will follow soon.)

English is the most important skill for a person to be able to earn a better salary these days, according to Alexander Torrenegra, a Colombian-American entrepreneur and investor that wrote “Remoter: the why-and-how guide to building successful remote teams”.

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“A software developer that speaks English can earn three to four times more money than a software developer that doesn’t speak English. So English education is critical,” he says.

To be hired abroad, Latinx can use LinkedIn. Torrenegra says that Torre, his startup, besides bridging the workforce to employers, helps companies to solve remote work issues such as how to set salaries.

The payroll and compliance unicorn Deel says that social networks, such as LinkedIn, are a powerful tool to generate networking and attract recruiters around the world. Deel also highlights the need to be fluent in English, as most opportunities require this skill.

“If the professional is in the technology area, the chances of reaching the dream position in a foreign company become even greater,” it says.

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As remote work turns mainstream, there are still a lot of questions that these companies have to solve while global remote work becomes the norm. Should they set a different salary per country or set a global salary? Who pays for taxes? How do employees get a computer? Does the company have to ship a computer to the person?

Brazilian Willame Figueredo, a project manager at an IT consultancy, says that to be able to fill a vacancy in a foreign company, Latin American professionals should have - besides English - a level of maturity and experience that makes it worthwhile.

“Foreign companies do not usually hire people without experience. But, the market is happy to hire people from South America because, with the money that a company from California pays to hire a good dev in the USA, it manages to hire three equally good devs, who will earn a fortune in their country, since all are working remotely.”

Bad for local companies, but good for those professionals, as long as Brazil’s currency remains undervalued, Figueredo says it will never be possible to compete with the proposals coming from abroad. “A mediocre salary for an American developer of US$ 5,000 can give a Brazilian the opportunity of having a salary of more than R$ 25,000 per month, 20 times more than the minimum salary in 2022.”

Senior front-end developer Daniel Koganas adds that the devaluation of the real makes hiring for foreign companies easier because it becomes almost unfair for Brazilian companies to compete in terms of remuneration.

“A below average developer salary in the US/Canada/Europe already pays more than most companies in Brazil. And many outside companies are offering a ‘turbocharged PJ [a freelance/contractor role]’, with benefits similar to what we would have in a CLT regime in Brazil, including, for example, health insurance, paid vacations, and allowance scholarships for education,” he says.

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André Gustmão is the CTO at Warren, a Brazil broker startup, rivaling XP. He says that training professionals in-house is an option for guaranteeing that they won’t run for foreign companies, but he says that this cannot be the only strategy.

“This shift allows foreign companies to hire in Latin America and I think it is positive, we see more and more Brazilians capable of delivering state-of-the-art tech as any developer worldwide.”

That means that tech companies in LatAm start to dispute talent with Silicon Valley’s companies. Although the CTO considers the salary advantage due to the currency “a bit unfair”, he says regional companies can win by offering work proposals.

“People that work with technology, they do work a lot. They have to work with something they see as a proposal, an outcome. Many foreign companies that call tech workers in LatAm are third-parties, they don’t have their own product, so the relationship of the developer with the product is not close. So it’s not only working with training developers but also giving proposals, an impact, a meaning of the work that makes it worthwhile.”

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Gusmão says that people that work with tech are seeking alternative places to work with, people that went to live in the countryside. “Workers are seeking to change their lifestyle and we understand and embrace that, we believe it makes sense.”

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Pedro Gil, from the people’s team at HRTech Intera, said that the HR area discussed the culture selection processes, which were already being recruited by companies in Brazil.

“In the end, recruiters have to grow a little sentimental about what it’s like to work in Brazil, for a Brazilian company, and to develop the local market at some opportunity, a market that can be better explored, and grow together with the company. This appeal sometimes still makes sense to some people,” he explains.

In a survey to understand remote work done with its customer base, Intera said that 66.8% of candidates responded that the work model directly impacts productivity and 64% consider flexibility to be important; 63% indicated improvement in quality of life, physical and emotional well-being with remote work, 40.2% mentioned gains in organizing tasks; 39.6% like adaptability; 22.3% value time with their children and 19.7% mention the importance of relationships with colleagues for the adoption of the work model.

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Thiago Veloso, Head of Marketing at startup Crawly, says the company has adopted a four-day workweek precisely to appeal to developers in a disputed environment for tech.

“A differentiator for company culture is to marry a culture that the developer is looking for with the collaborators, to understand how the day-to-day is, precisely because it is remote. Conversations to deal with everything from equipment to mental health. I think the culture keeps the person in the company more than the salary.”

Pierre Lucena, president of the Porto Digital innovation hub, says that the case of Brazilian companies that lose workers to foreign companies “is a minority”, and that it is not yet known whether the work will remain remote.

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“Brazil does not lose more people abroad because of the legislation of the countries themselves. So, for example, Germany has 400,000 vacancies for developers, but it cannot hire people from abroad. Brazil cannot hire Colombians, because it needs to have the bond of working here, and if you do it as a legal entity, it’s importing a service, it’s an even bigger drama from a fiscal point of view”, he said.

For him, Brazil lacks a large national project for training human capital in the area of technology. “In 2019, we trained 39,000 people in technology and we have 70,000 new jobs a year,” he said.

Lucena is more concerned with Brazilians who actually leave the country to work abroad, and who wish to leave the country. “This talent search is dramatic throughout Brazil. We need to improve urban quality. Nobody goes to Portugal to create a great career there, people are leaving Brazil because they seek a higher quality of life.”

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