Before You Train You Must Recruit

Before you can train and develop your team, you have to recruit them!

Employee’s viewpoint….

To simplify the issue, I am looking from the viewpoint of an employee in the GCC (any nationality!) who wants to find a better job, or who has been made redundant and needs a replacement job very soon, as opposed to visitors, tourists and long-distance job seekers.

The dominant online players, such as Bayt, Monster Gulf and Gulf all require you to complete their online application forms, upload CVs, photos and then you wait for the rush of interest from the employers’ side.

For the great majority of jobseekers, there is no rush, only silence. People become depressed by the lack of response and often blame the service provider for it. To make matters worse, many applicants then turn to direct applications via employers’ websites too.

Most of the leading multinationals and smart local groups have invested in online recruitment systems, so yes, once again, forms have to be completed online, CVs uploaded, and so forth, which adds to the battle to keep your morale high while the response is still low or zero.

Executive Search firms and Recruitment Agencies (many with their own online application systems too) are very customer-focused.

Unfortunately jobseekers are not their customers, corporate business are.

So what is causing this situation?

The answer is competition; the huge number of people in the Gulf (and worldwide) who are also looking for the ‘right’ job in this region.

Online systems are the best way for any organization connected to recruitment to cope with literally several hundred candidates applying for each vacancy, plus a similar number of people making speculative applications, daily.

Imagine trying to read thousands of CVs every week, responding to them all personally and then filing them somehow so they can be found in a search with any degree of accuracy.

It can’t be done!

There is no easy solution for jobseekers in this market, sorry to say, unlike South Africa which has a very mature operation called Career Junction.

Applicants complete one online file and this is then accessed by headhunters, agencies and corporations direct. If you see a new job on CJ and want to apply, it’s a quick click and it’s done.


It’s a shame that CJ Middle East never got off the ground.

Personal contacts and word-of-mouth are probably more effective than ever today, thanks to LinkedIn and Facebook.

So what technologies are out there for the actual recruitment process?

First, the dreaded online tool – it is always going to be impersonal, but saves so much time and assuming it has an effective search engine, you should be able to see quickly if you have any decent external candidates to put on your shortlist, or not.

In parallel, if your current HR system does not allow you to do an effective search of your existing employee database, your current crop of talent may become frustrated if they see their company’s interesting jobs being posted on the internet before internal candidates are being approached or informed.

CV Parsing – Some systems have a parsing tool included, which means that it scans a CV, reads it, then processes the information into ‘virtual’ boxes in a database which can be searched later. Sounds like the magic button we need today, but a word of caution…If the sales executive says ‘It’s 85% accurate’ and you process 100 CVs per day, 15 of those will not be properly read or processed. To input those 15 into the database manually will probably take an hour or 2.

Targeted Questions – In some systems, you can ask questions in the online application process which then filter out unsuitable candidates by their response e.g. ‘How many years’ Widget Design experience do you have? 1 to 5 years? 6 to 12 years? Over 12 years?’ All those picking the wrong choice receive a reject email and are informed they have been de-selected. The risk is that exceptional borderline cases will be missed by the system and possibly feel aggrieved that they have been rejected by a machine that doesn’t understand that 3 years widget design with Rolls Royce is worth 10 years’ experience with ‘The Glorious Widget Co’.

Online Assessment – Very popular in the UK and Europe, rarer than a snowman in the Gulf, with certain notable exceptions. I have been a fan of online assessments since they became available, however I am not sure if the barrier to assessment regionally is the cost or whether it’s lack of awareness of how these can make a significant difference to company performance?

Pat Luby is Managing Partner of Pat Luby Consulting, a HR Software consultancy which designs, develops, trains and delivers online HR-related solutions. He is ex-regional Managing Director of Manpower Middle East and has worked as a HR professional in industries including IT, Telecoms and Engineering.