Recruiting in the Middle East: What Employers Need To Know

randstadIf you’re like many multinational companies, chances are you’re looking at the Middle East as one of the most explosive global growth markets – and if you’re establishing or expanding your presence in the Middle East, you’ll need to exercise a little finesse.  After all, it’s not exactly a short commute, and the cultural differences can be daunting.

The thing is, successful recruiting in the Middle East is incumbent on understanding the perspective of potential candidates; areas like Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, for instance, are among the most affluent in the world (and also among the most accepting of Western business norms).

For booming markets like these, Doha, Kuwait City or Riyadh, the opportunity for expatriation presents professionals willing to the jump with not only the chance to make real money and a real difference, but also enjoy an extraordinarily good quality of life, even by Western standards.

Recruiting professionals to open positions in the Middle East, in fact, isn’t so different than doing so domestically.  Of course, with factors like distance, cultural and linguistic differences, there are some obstacles to placing top talent in the region – but these obstacles can easily be overcome.

In today’s interconnected, networked world of work, here are some tips for changing these challenges into opportunities – and bottom line recruiting results.

Online Recruiting in The Middle East

As with any highly specialized occupation or competitive local job market, a variety of online recruiting resources have developed to offer specific expertise – and reach – for hiring in the Middle East.  These sites provide a blend of local knowledge and proven, industry leading expertise that will help partner with your business to translate your open opportunities into compelling, culturally specific job descriptions that target the right talent at the right time.

Many of these specialized recruitment sites are also operated by global recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) firms which act as a bridge between recruiters and employers by employing by providing overseas recruiting support, providing a front line in the field, and the ability to help both candidates and employers navigate the potentially confusing landscape of the Middle East and turning that expertise into real enticing, exciting career & business opportunities.

Focus Your Recruitment Programs

Traditionally, face to face meetings with prospective employees would have been accomplished through job or recruitment fairs, and this approach is still more than viable. Setting up a stand at a general recruitment fair certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea, as it would give you access to a range of undecided job hunters, who may be interested in making a change and experiencing some different scenery.

Career fairs such as this ‘Graduate Careers in Africa, Asia & Middle East Event’ hosted by TARGETjobs, for example, allows for many companies to simultaneously target, meet and engage recent graduates and other members of the emerging workforce in the UK who might be interested in pursuing international vacancies.  Events like career fairs are great ways to bring your global opportunities to local talent.

Similar to recruitment websites, for best results specialized events like these, as well as professional conferences and trade shows dedicated to a specific industry or market sector (or ideally, some combination of both), tend to yield much better results than more generalized in-person outreach.  By focusing on these kind of events, you’re able to target candidates without overcoming the most difficult recruiting objection of all, which is trying to convince top talent to consider opportunities abroad.

With this hurdle already cleared, you’ll be able to better focus your time on explaining your employee value proposition while building the foundation for a successful recruiting relationship.  By focusing on what your company offers and how it aligns with their professional goals and aspirations, you’ll be able to create excitement and awareness of your employment brand, even for those industry insiders who already are experienced (or at least open) to continuing their careers in the Middle East.

Build The Right Network & Connections

A far less labor intensive, but equally engaging, way to find and attract potential candidates for opportunities in the Middle East is ensuring you’re able to scale your messaging and reach online.  Popular professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, or social networks like Facebook and Twitter, allow proactive employers to build a buzz while building a community of candidates, current and future employees, and subject matter or industry experts.

Exposing these communities to opportunities in the Middle East while also providing a platform to showcase both vacancies as well as company culture and real employees already working in the region can be key to directly connect with the right candidates in real time while providing additional insight on what working in the region is really like.  This will help proactively pre-empt, or screen out, the most ubiquitous hurdle in any overseas recruitment operation, the willingness to consider opportunities abroad.

Recruiting In The Middle East: Conclusions

The key to recruiting for vacancies in the Middle East, as the above examples suggest, is to focus on delivering a consistent, compelling message through specialized channels, communities and networks which are the most receptive to your recruiting message.

By demonstrating not only the professional growth and development opportunities inherent to adding experience in the Middle East, but also dispelling entrenched myths and misconceptions about the region while underscoring its quality of life and vibrant business environment, you’ll lay the foundation for recruiting success – and future growth in one of the world’s fastest growing job markets.

nickbushAbout the Author: Nick Bush has been writing since he could hold a pen, and has been working in marketing since graduating from the University of Portsmouth.

He has a wide range of marketing experience, across a diverse array of fields; from recruitment, to medical technology and property.

Nick currently resides in his adoptive city of Portsmouth, in the UK.

Follow Nick on Twitter @nbushvl, or connect with him on LinkedIn.



  • Karen Azulai

    Hi Nick – Is israel not considered to be the Middle East? Israel is a known start-up nation, second only to the Silicon Valley. Companies from all over the world try to head hunt our great engineers who are very well known for their creativity and professionalism. I will be writing a post about that soon :-)


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