The MENA region has garnered significant attention in recent times. From political transitions to economic uncertainties – the region faces challenges at every turn. 

Unsurprisingly, recruitment in the MENA region has also faced its share of problems, especially as recruiters struggle to adapt to the fragile economic and business landscape. 

This begs the question – what are the major recruitment challenges in MENA? Let’s explore.

Hiring in MENA Is on the Rise

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the job market globally, with many companies laying off or furloughing employees to cut down on operating costs. However, with economies gradually opening up worldwide, job prospects are extremely bright in 2022 – particularly in the MENA region. 

For instance, 72% of companies in the UAE expect to accelerate their hiring processes. This is in alliance with Hays’ analysis of hiring in the Gulf, with 74% of the organisations inclining towards stepping up hiring as the job market bounces back to pre-COVID levels amid the broader economic recovery. 

Having recovered well from the negative effects of the pandemic, most organisations are now operating in the business-as-usual mode, with many also embarking on the growth mode. 

At the same time, MENA has been making significant strides in education, improving access to education and increasing the level of literacy. The region has seen education enrolment increase rapidly over the last decade and is estimated to snowball over the next decade. 

This is causing several new trends to come to the forefront, such as: 

  • A sudden and widespread rise in remote or virtual interviews as an alternative to in-person interviews 
  • High salary expectations from candidates, especially those who’ve faced the brunt of the pandemic 
  • Preference for flexible working policies such as hybrid or remote working 
  • Quicker and more efficient hiring processes that allow organisations to quickly fill up open roles and bridge the widening skills gap 
  • Alignment between skills and job requirements with several opportunities to enable career growth 
  • The growing interest in private sector jobs that enable candidates to establish a lasting career in their chosen field of interest 
  • Increasing focus on diversity and inclusion, with many candidates now favouring employers with strong D&I policies 

But Challenges in Recruitment Are Many

As the labour market picks up in the MENA region, there is a vibrant and opportunistic landscape for recruitment. Several new IT and tech roles have opened up, which must be filled immediately. But the evolving digital climate has also seen candidate preferences and perspectives manifest and multiply. 

Money is no longer the primary influencer for professional decisions but several other factors, such as training and growth opportunities, remote working options, flexible work hours, views on D&I, and more. 

Recruiting and retaining the right talent requires organisations to step up their hiring game, but siloed systems and a traditional approach to hiring make things difficult. 

Following are the top three recruitment challenges impacting employers in the MENA region: 

1. Finding Qualified Applicants

As the pace and frequency of open jobs increase, employers in MENA are having a tough time finding qualified applicants. Although several thousand candidates are actively looking for jobs, identifying them and moving them through the hiring lifecycle hasn’t been easy. 

The over-reliance on manual processes makes it highly tedious for MENA organisations to scan through resumes and categorise applicants based on their skill sets. Companies also find it difficult to give into inflated salary demands, especially as demand exceeds supply. 

2. Inefficient Hiring Processes

Hiring can be a very lengthy and time-consuming process, especially in the absence of the right tools and systems. Without a centralised and scalable recruitment platform in place, sourcing and bringing suitable candidates quickly and compliantly ends up being a Herculean task. So is reaching and recruiting the right technical resources and onboarding them into a role that best aligns with their skillsets. 

3. Offering the Right Jobs to the Right People

The cost of a bad hire can be extremely high for employers and can cause irreparable damage to the brand’s reputation. Yet, many MENA organisations struggle to offer the right jobs to the right people because of inefficient hiring workflows and methodologies. 

The inability to carry out sufficient pre-employment background screening and skills assessment makes it difficult to find talented individuals while also increasing the risk of unnecessary surprises post-hire. 

Looking Ahead

The fast-paced economic and technological development in the MENA region has made the job market increasingly competitive. To keep up with these trends and fill in open jobs quickly and efficiently, recruiters in MENA will have to streamline their hiring processes, driven in part by emerging trends, widening skills gaps, and candidate demands. 

Navigating the local recruiting market requires employers to invest in AI-enabled SaaS recruiting platforms that automate menial tasks while shortening the time to hire. These platforms can help build and scale bigger teams and ensure employers in the MENA region do not miss out on quality hires due to human errors or bias

XOPA’s AI Recruiter platform can help score and rank talent so you can onboard the best-fit candidates in the shortest time and lowest cost possible. 

Leveraging the capabilities of AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics, AI Recruiter aids employers in making the best-informed hiring decisions, ensuring automated job matching, inclusive hiring, and candidate engagement. 

Contact us today to learn more!