Recruiting in the Middle East – A Relationship Driven Culture

What makes The Middle East a unique region for business and recruitment? Looking at UAE (followed by other GCC countries) where fast moving economic development brings the number of working expats from Asia, Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America, MENA to dominate over local population. Then KSA and Iran where potential is enormous, however, local regulations and rules don’t make it easy to establish and run a business as well as some countries of the ME where business is still done in the “old way”. But wherever you are in the ME, understanding the cultural differences as well as building and maintaining relationships have the same importance in approach to business and therefore recruitment. So how do relationships contribute to and affect hiring?

Relationships with existing employees

  • Working as a part of the team as an in-house recruiter and onsite RPO is beneficial as it allows the recruiter to be the point of contact for existing employees who may be interested in exploring new opportunities within the business. Being located onsite at the client’s premises makes it easy to initiate and develop direct relationships with high potential employees and, by doing so, can help increase internal mobility rates.

Relationships with hiring managers

  • Also working closely with Hiring Managers encourages the development of relationships and a deep understanding of their business. This helps us identify the right match for their team as well as speed up the recruitment process, which usually takes time (like everything else in the ME).

Relationships with external recruitment agencies

  • Another benefit of an RPO model is we build and manage relationships with third party recruitment agencies. Even though our job is to reduce use of agencies by filling roles directly, there are roles where the expertise of a third party recruiter is needed. By acting as the central point of contact, we can make sure the recruiter is kept in the loop and the assignment progresses as smoothly as possible.

Personal Networking

  • Building relationships requires:
    1. Investing time: whether it’s a professional social networking site, conferences or fairs and exhibitions, it takes time to know people and get known in the industry
    2. Being genuine and personable: addressing people by name and using the “health, wealth and family” formula i.e. ask about their personal well-being, business and the kids; be open about your personal details
    3. Offering your time: if asked for advice or consultation, take the time to reply or direct them to someone who could help
  • Maintaining relationships is crucial – even if there are no suitable positions for a candidate now or in the future, remember that ME professionals tend to know each other in the industry and are usually happy to spread the word about your vacancy or recommend a suitable person.
  • Branding – as you develop your personal network, your company name will also become better known. A lot of the time when a candidate is invited for an interview he/she would ask someone from their network if anyone knows / has dealt with the company and recruiter and what they think of them.

Looking beyond the borders

  • The ME is a vast region with over 10 countries where the majority of qualified professionals speak Arabic+ English or English and are flexible to move from one country to another. Thus relocation is very common especially to the countries where skills are needed (like GCC, KSA). Therefore by building relationships and expanding your network in all ME countries, you expand the candidate pool as well as your reputation far beyond the country where you are hiring.
  • Established relationships with candidates are valuable not only during the sourcing and recruitment process but also for the relocation and on-boarding process. The border rules change more often here and without notice, hence visa rejection and delays and therefore start date delays occur. At this time it is critical to maintain a good relationship with the new starter in order to ensure that he/she is aware of the situation, continuously updated and still committed to relocate and start with your company

In summary, it is important to understand that the culture in the Middle East is different than other parts of the world and that personal connections play a big part in recruitment. It’s a relationship driven culture, meaning that by investing the right amount of time and effort to build and maintain relationships you will ensure success for yourself and your organisation.

Learn how Hudson RPO can help with your recruiting efforts in the Middle East. Contact us today.

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