Remote working opens the door to international technical talent


In the past years, many employers were reluctant to look for technical talent beyond the boundaries. But the Covid-19 pandemic made professionals and organisations realise that job location is not a top priority anymore.

Offering the possibility to work remotely allows employers to select the best candidate on the market, no matter where they are based, according to the 2021 Robert Walters Salary Survey.


Julide Tunali, Senior Manager at Robert Walters, shares her expectations about the labour market for engineering, supply chain, healthcare & life sciences professionals in 2021.

Higher expectations

In 2020, some organisations found it difficult to make a hiring decision based on a video call with candidates, which is being used now instead of a face to face interview. Julide: “We have noticed that organisations increasingly prefer a permanent recruitment over the quick solution of bringing in an interim professional. This resulted in hiring managers being more demanding, taking more time in finding the perfect fit and slowing down the whole recruitment process, which sometimes resulted in losing the preferred candidate in the final interview stage.”

Open for talent beyond boundaries

“Belgium has always been a country lacking technical expertise in manufacturing, supply chain, IT or life sciences areas. The sudden increase in remote working has made professionals and organisations realise that the location of the job is not a primary focus anymore. Senior manufacturing and supply chain professionals who need to be present in the production site are mainly recruited from the country where the production site is situated. But senior technical commercial people for example are perfectly able to manage their team remotely.”

Even though physical presence is important and ideal, the ability to work remotely allows employers to select the perfect fit, no matter where he or she is based. “Video interviews proved to be a good alternative for face to face interviews and I think that will remain an important part of the recruitment process in the coming months as well.” In time, standard CVs will further be supported by short videos in which candidates present themselves to their future employer.

2021 will be a year of caution for many organisations. Their main focus will be on recruiting the best technical professionals on the market who demonstrate flexibility, agility and resilience. “Organisations will move to be more lean, employing less people but with more responsibilities. That means that shop-floor managers or directors will also need to be able to take on different functions when required.”


“Being an engineer or a technically strong professional alone is no longer sufficient in today’s market and the current crisis emphasizes this even more."

Today’s market requires flexible talent. The engineers of the future demonstrate a commercial attitude, R&D professionals need to have a marketing mindset and successful supply chain managers need to be familiar with digitalisation.

Higher salaries for technical professionals in strategic roles

While salaries for the upper management level roles will remain stable in 2021, we expect that salaries for mid-level project management roles will definitely increase. The obvious reason is the lack of strong technical engineering professionals who accept to work strategically in projects without people management.

“Generally, this type of roles whether it is in engineering, maintenance, R&D, supply chain or process improvement, requires a certain years of experience and the market so far moved into an interim approach. Today, we see it return more to the demand for permanent employment, which results in salary increases.  In addition, we anticipate that salaries for mid-level managers on the shop-floor will increase as well, as they are still active in operations and managing a team at the same time.“

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