“Acquiring the right talent is the most important key to growth. Hiring was – and still is – the most important thing we do.” – Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce

But hiring isn’t always easy. For one thing, it can be expensive. In fact, sourcing qualified candidates for jobs (whether through recruitment agencies or internal teams) is one of the costliest recruiting activities. The average overall cost per hire can easily exceed $4,500.

Moreover, tapping into the right candidate pools can be especially challenging in the Middle East, where competition for talent is fierce. Can technology help? Certainly! But that, too, requires strategic preparation. 

PWC’s survey of 608 executives across the MENA region reveals that:

  • 72% of the respondents affirm the acceleration in the digital transformation initiatives.
  • But only 9% agree that the human resource (HR) function is reaping the rewards of technological implementations.
  • In fact, only 48% agree that the back-office HR is even ready for digitalization.

Such findings underscore the need for managers to use technology wisely and make the most of tools to drastically improve HR — especially when it comes to recruiting.

But before one embarks on a digital-driven talent acquisition process, a comprehensive insight into the challenges of sourcing and recruiting in the Middle East is crucial.

Demand-Supply Gap

Literature suggests that talent management is one of the biggest challenges for organizations in MENA. A study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Management outlines how two main issues drive this supply-demand gap:

  • Lack of relevance creeps up in the academic modules against what the practical (corporate) world requires. This results in a skills mismatch, from the perspective of the employer, between competencies that the candidate boasts of and knowledge of those disciplines within the organization
  • Brain Drain – An example to better illustrate this point would be the case of Iran. The country’s population has doubled in the past four decades. During the same time, the number of emigrants from the nation has tripled. Qualified individuals want to leave the country, and that leaves recruiters with a small talent pool to pick from. 

Maintaining a constant flow of expertise, fostering innovation, sustaining productivity, and securing the demographic balance are the significant issues that source from the talent supply gap. 

But it’s noteworthy that the academic sector in the Middle East is growing leaps and bounds. In fact, King Abdulaziz University’s 190th rank in the 2022 world university rankings is the highest ever for an academic institution in the Middle East. Nevertheless, there’s still a long way to go.

Overall Sluggish Hiring Process

Slow recruitment is, in fact, a problem that plagues effective hiring on a global scale. The process is cumbersome and time-consuming. And that affects productivity and, ultimately, the bottom line.

From receiving the application (i.e., resume, cover letter, portfolio) to interviewing the candidate, the entire process can take two to three months (even more).

That’s less than ideal. Indeed, that’s a long time to wait and incur costs if you’re not getting the right person for your company. 

The process becomes even more lethargic when considering the intricacies of hiring expatriates. There’s visa clearance, identity authentication, background checks, and even security vetting in some cases. And that makes the entire process even costlier.

The good thing about adopting technology (like an AI Recruiter) pertaining to this challenge is that it immediately optimizes the resources. In other words, talent can be sourced, screened, hired, and onboarded in quick time frames.

Youth Unemployment Rate

Youth unemployment is a result of varying reasons. And it amplifies every challenge that the HR department faces. The Middle East is no exception. 

As per World Bank’s estimates, some of the relatively advanced states, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, report a youth unemployment rate of 28.17% and 23.39%, respectively. Such high numbers are detrimental to the growth of the country’s economy and its workforce. 

But that’s not to say that all hope is lost. In fact, several initiatives are being undertaken by both the government and private firms to address the issue. Some states have exhibited significant progress over the years. For instance, Qatar, Israel, Bahrain, and UAE score exceptionally well in World Bank’s analysis, with youth unemployment rates averaging 0.63%, 7.95%, 7.97%, and 9.01%, respectively.

Indeed, that serves as an inspiration for other states to follow suit. And with the help of technology, things can only get better. Let’s find out how.

How X0PA AI Recruiter Drives Efficient Candidate Sourcing

AI serves as an invaluable platform to recruiters, especially when sourcing the right talent in the Middle East. 

Cutting Costs with Speed

AI recruiter leverages Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to define an automated workflow for the interviews. From automatically scheduling interviews to sending out reminders and alerting the recruiting manager about a candidate’s interview, the AI recruiter automates the entire process to save time for the things that actually matter. 

On top of that, predictive AI helps keep track of the acquisitions, collects data points in real-time, and monitors the ongoing processes to create patterns for analytics and insights. Such patterns are then transformed into the data feeds that work as best practices for future recruitment activities. 

Cutting Costs with Objectivity

AI-powered scoring algorithms help with the prospect’s initial appraisal and evaluation. This helps automate the assessment process with so much less human intervention required. Fields like CV relevance, predictive performance, and predictive loyalty, amongst others, act as benchmarks for evaluation. 

Most importantly, a large talent pool can be accessed in the blink of an eye. As a matter of fact, X0PA links CVs from LinkedIn, Naurkrigulf, and Bayt.com — the most comprehensive job search platforms in the Middle East — to its database to facilitate the selection process.

Experience the difference with X0PA. Request a demo of our AI Recruiter today.