Using Technology to Enhance Recruitment in the MENA Region

Human resources in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have always presented a number of challenges, such as those posed by large numbers of expatriate workers and high public sector employment, just to name a couple.

In line with the rest of the world, companies in the MENA region were increasingly looking towards technology to help them deal with this, and following the success of such projects are seeking solutions to deal with more complex issues.

As the global economy recovers, recruitment within the Middle East has been increasing significantly, and this is just one of the areas where HR departments – both within the public and private sectors – could look to extend their technological capabilities.
Recruitment Increase

Figures from Monster, one of the world's biggest employment websites, show a 117 percent year-on-year increase in vacancies in the Gulf – showing it to be an increasingly popular region for global recruitment.

Over the period, positions within the United Arab Emirates increased by 71 percent, Saudi Arabia saw a 136 percent increase and similarly strong growth was viewed in Qatar, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan.

Sanjay Modi, the managing director of in the Middle East, India and South East Asia, told Dubai-based newspaper the National: "We can expect this momentum to continue because it was not just driven by one or two sectors."

Social Networking Growth

Those who want to send their recruitment message out to the widest possible pool of talent may seek to leverage the growing trend of social networking.

The world's most popular social networking site, Facebook, added an Arabic interface in 2009 and has gained 3.5 million Arabic users in that time, according to a report by Spot On PR.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the two markets which saw the largest increase in members using the interface, with the UAE, Morocco and Tunisia also holding huge memberships. Together these five markets make up 50 percent of the 15 million users in the MENA region.

Around half of users operate on the English interface, while Arabic and French versions are used by 23 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

Areebaareeba, the first Arabic social networking site for professionals, was also recently launched. The site intends to bring expat workers from the region, located both domestically and across the globe, together to form communities.

Using this information, HR departments can enhance their recruitment procedures through social networking sites, a practice industry expert Gartner has been advocating for a number of years now.

Using Social Networks for Recruitment

Thomas Otter, research director at Gartner, believes that by next year, employers who do not effectively manage their online social networking presence will be unable to attract the best applicants.

The company argued while companies are quick to adopt these new technologies within their sales and marketing departments, HR professionals tend to lag behind.

"Online bulletin boards have provided discussion forums about companies for years, but the explosion of social networks has moved these discussions from niche to mainstream, stripping away the veneer of the recruitment brochure," Mr Otter said.

He explained those intending to use social networks within their recruitment process must first note what is being said about them, then compare this to their competitors.

Companies must also be prepared for applicants to be much more informed about the company during the recruitment process, and Mr Otter said HR professionals must take real care in the information they are distributing online.

"What may seem an ideal message for shareholders may send candidates fleeing. Organization silos and unaligned policies are easy to spot with a search engine, so it is vital that HR and marketing leaders work together," Mr Otter said.