Our guests today are Abdul Rahman Risilia and Muhammad Aly from Simply Digital, a Dubai-based recruitment agency specializing in hiring for the digital and tech spaces.
Simply Digital is a subsidiary of the well-known Mackenzie Jones.
- What is the state of the digital and tech job market in 2017?
- What are the main differences with regards to hiring in this region as opposed to more mature markets?
- What are the main challenges faced by employers and candidates?
- How do local candidates compare to international?
- Who do you look for when hiring for digital and tech?
- Shady recruiting agencies and deceptive practices
- Which industries are hiring the most in this region for digital and tech jobs?
- Hot roles in the digital and tech spaces in 2017
- The unrealistic expectations of employers
- Why employers need to look at recruiting agencies as partners and trusted advisors
- How to get a recruiter’s attention when applying for jobs
- The role of recruitment agencies in educating the market on trends in the digital and tech landscape
- The importance of building community in the digital and tech spaces
Click through to read the time-stamped show notes.
Time Stamped Show Notes
[00:30] Our guests today are Abdul Rahman Risilia and Muhammad Aly from Simply Digital, a recruitment agency in the UAE specializing in the digital marketing space.
[00:40] Our topic today is the UAE job market for digital and tech related jobs.
[01:00] Abdul Rahman’s been in recruitment for over 15 years over multiple industries and agency types.
[01:21] Simply Digital is a subsidiary of Mackenzie Jones Recruiting.
[01:30] Last year they worked as part of Mackenzie Jones but realized it was difficult to break away from the perception that it is a corporate HR & Finance recruiting specialist.
[01:50] To solve this, Abdul Rahman and Muhammad pitched creating a separate entity positioned as a digital marketing recruitment specialist.
[02:15] Muhammad’s been in recruiting for around 6 years and specializes in the digital space.
[03:00] There are two main differences in recruiting for digital and tech in this region vs. internationally.
[03:15] The digital and tech spaces are in their infancy in this region, so not many people know how it should be implemented.
[03:40] The timelines, sales cycles and decision-making in this region are much slower.
[04:00] Some segments of the digital and tech spaces, and some industries, are progressing faster than others so there’s no uniform growth.
[04:30] Over the next year or so things will become easier for recruiters and candidates as more people will digital skillsets enter the market.
[05:00] On the client side of recruiting employers have a general idea of what they need in digital roles but don’t fully grasp the job requirements, what skillsets are required, where they go in the organization etc.
[06:00] Simply Digital does a lot of work to educate clients about their needs and what would work best for them.
[06:14] They try to develop trust with the clients as advisors and not just recruiters.
[06:34] It’s the same problem faced by agencies, when they create and promote campaigns for clients.
[07:00] Some employers in this region only want to hire people with industry experience and that limits their options.
[08:00] Ubrik’s own employees don’t have a digital background because the skillsets can be learned and the digital landscape is evolving constantly.
[08:30] Ubrik focuses on hiring for the right attitude and a general grasp of digital concepts.
[09:20] Candidates coming from a more mature international market (North America, Europe, Australia) face special challenges
[09:30] Sometimes told that they are too senior for a role.
[09:40] Rejections because they don’t have industry experience.
[09:55] Some settle into a job but then find out the responsibilities are not what they were initially hired for.
[11:10] Some employers want their hires to fit into their idea of the role rather than letting them use their skills to do more advanced work.
[11:50] These employees will feel that there won’t be career growth in such roles and end up leaving.
[11:56] It’s challenging to find local talent because prospective international hires have been operating in a more mature market for longer.
[12:20] International hires can add a lot of value to this region.
[12:55] A digital marketing manager from the U.S./U.S. will be better equipped than a digital marketing manager from this region is the latter only has experience working in this region.
[13:05] Not every client can afford to relocate an international hire, so that’s where local talent becomes much more appealing.
[13:20] Shady recruiting agencies engage in deceptive practices when advertising for jobs.
[14:00] Abdul Rahman says this is a common problem with recruiting all over the World – it’s his job to do things better.
[14:40] Some recruiting agencies set up shop without any experience or knowledge of the industry they operate in.
[15:20] 10-15 years ago you would have needed 10-15 years of experience recruiting before you started your own agency.
[15:50] Now, with 2-3 years experience recruiters think, “I can do this myself instead of working for someone else.”
[16:00] It’s not difficult to start an agency but most of them go bust in 2-3 years.
[17:10] When hiring for digital there are few recruiters who know the space well enough to have credibility.
[17:24] Many of Simply Digital’s clients end up offering Muhammad a job because he’s one of the few recruiters that do have a deep understanding of the digital landscape.
[17:48] A HR, Oil & Gas or Finance recruiter can’t recruit for digital because they don’t know the space well enough.
[18:50] Hot digital roles right now – UI/UX designers, product designers, front-end developers, digital marketing managers and social media specialists (junior roles.)
[20:20] Clients want unicorns – Arabic speakers with perfect English from specific universities and special certifications.
[21:20] A lot of marketing agencies are looking for Account Managers.
[21:45] There is big demand for content marketers.
[22:30] In most mature markets the banking sector is the biggest hiring machine for digital, but in this region the banking sector has a lot of catching up to do.
[23:10] Simply Digital does a lot of work for retail FMCG and agencies.
[24:00] Some agencies and clients do understand UI/UX design but in general there is a lot of education required.
[25:00] There is not much hiring going on in the startup space but there is potential.
[25:30] In Austrialia, Abdul Rahman says around 85% of clients are startups. Over here, less than 10% of Simply Digital’s business is from startups.
[25:55] Abdul Rahman thinks the UAE is around 5 years behind mature markets in the digital and tech spaces.
[26:25] When a recruiter sees you’ve applied for several roles with hugely different skillsets, it’s a turn-off and they are less likely to contact you.
[27:15] Apply for one role, and follow up with an email and phone call.
[27:35] Make sure your portfolio is clearly provided via URL or attachment.
[27:50] For digital hiring don’t care about your resume, we care about what you can do.
[28:35] If you’re applying for a content marketing job you better a content creator and have an active social media presence.
[28:55] Show us results, show us a report from one of your campaigns.
[29:30] Digital marketing is highly measurable so there’s no excuse for not having numbers to back up your resume.
[29:50] Employers have totally unrealistic expectations with job requirements for digital hires
[30:30] Serial appliers – applying for digital marketing roles, sales roles, finance roles etc.
[31:00] On the client side the important thing is creating a partnership with recruiting agencies
[31:10] Do the research internally, then talk to the agencies – test them.
[31:20] Are they credible? Then trust their advice.
[31:40] Agencies want to find you the best possible hires over the long term.
[31:50] They want to commit to you and they want you to commit to them.
[32:30] If more clients viewed the recruiting agencies as advisors and partners, the agencies would take their jobs much more seriously and dedicate more resources to a client.
[33:40] Recruiting in 2017 has been busy so far but it has been slow at times.
[34:00] The second half of 2017 should pick up, moving towards a very exciting 2018 for digital and tech in the UAE.
[34:20] The key is education – Simply Digital is partnering with Astrolabs and Glass Qube to offer thought leadership workshops
[34:40] They want to educate employers and prospects about the development of different verticals in the digital landscape.
[35:00] The UAE and the region in general have huge potential for developing the digital and tech spaces.
[36:00] More opportunities for networking and learning need to be created to foster a sense of community in the digital and tech spaces.
[37:00] As the market matures and employers become more knowledgeable, more of the right roles will start to appear.
[38:00] Check out Simply Digital’s website – simplydigital.ae – where you can look for jobs and sign up for their newsletter to receive announcements on new jobs and events.
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