Xelvin goes to South Africa

‘Die dag het aangebreek vir my om Suid-Afrika te verlaat en nuwe lewe in Nederland te begin.’ (Afrikaans for ‘The day has come for me to leave South Africa for a new life in the Netherlands’) This message was the Facebook status of one of our engineers. He was leaving South Africa for the Netherlands, to work for one of our customers as a hardware engineer. Our managing consultant, Roel van Rossum, reacted animatedly: “Hey isn’t it almost like Dutch?! Yes! That’s precisely why we went looking for engineers in South Africa! “

So off we went. In July, colleagues Bart, Roel, Bram and Maikel travelled to South Africa for a mass recruitment session. They had selected and interviewed 65 candidates who met the highest requirements. The idea to do this first came up in 2017. At the time, Maikel was connecting an experienced engineer from South Africa with a client of his. “I was very impressed by the quality he delivered, and there was no language barrier at all. When I became an operational manager, I designed a plan and started working on it. “

One of the reasons for recruiting in South Africa is the language. The team had noted that customers often prefer Dutch-speaking employees. “Although the market is becoming increasingly limited, you have to think about how you can best deliver to the customer. People from Cape Town often have Afrikaans as their native language, and this is quite similar to Dutch. They pick up the Dutch language very quickly.

“We started straight away and selected five positions that are always in high demand from our customers. So yes, we went to South Africa for a different kind of Big Five, “Maikel says enthusiastically. “At Xelvin, we’re constantly negotiating and looking out for the right employees for our customers. The passion for finding these employees in South Africa is evident. The whole team had worked really hard to make this idea a success, so the mood was great” said Bart.

Cape Town is known for its prestigious universities, and we see that the engineers there achieve a very high technical level. They also tend to be adventurers with a strong personality. They have to leave everything behind, so you need to be the right sort of person to do that.”

The team noticed during the first few days that the drive to perform was intrinsic in the candidates they interviewed. “They were all well on time, smartly dressed and showed a genuine interest in us. In terms of communication skills, they were also solid. Occasionally, we would throw a Dutch sentence in and that went great!” The candidates were also subjected to a technical assessment per Western European standards. They all passed with flying colours. Twelve of the 65 have already said goodbye to friends and family and left South Africa for the Netherlands. “Of course, we will make sure that they feel at home here in no time!”, Roel assures.

After 65 interviews in only three days, the four ‘bourgondisch’ southerners just had to see how the beer and wine taste in Cape Town. Both get the stamp of approval! They can also tick off the sights of the Cape of Good Hope, Stellenbosch and Table Mountain. “We can look back on a stunning and ultimately successful journey”. It not only drove business; it also had a positive effect on the team. “The fact that they invited me was a true token of appreciation for me,” Bart says. “And although we found and spotted our Big Five, we are certainly not finished with South Africa!”

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