The job market today

Young businesswoman sitting in office using laptopLet’s face it, whether you are an employer or a jobseeker, the internet is filled with interview tips from dress code to the ‘expected’ interview questions. All are very helpful for a jobseeker and a recruiter, however one of the most important tips I always give is to be prepared!

Preparation is key, and it applies to both the recruiter and jobseeker. As a recruiter you may miss vital signs, such as missing dates and information if you have not prepared well, and as a job seeker you may have thought of the ‘general’ questions that you maybe quizzed on, however have you given some thought to those ‘outside the box’ questions? How about a question that may determine whether you stand out when compared to other applicants if answered correctly. We all know our roles and strengths, however elaborating on key factors and the answer that the recruiter may be focusing on is not always readily available unless we have prepared and quizzed ourselves.

Having been a jobseeker, recruiter and a HR professional, I cannot stress how important ones overall ‘attitude’ is, whichever role you find yourself in. Attitude is what gets you that one step ahead, whether the passing the interview or being a valued employee. We can ‘tick’ all the boxes in terms of our technical skills however it is the ‘right’ attitude that employers will take notice of. Overall attitude towards one’s role and work is not always easily detected at the interview stage, which often results with recruiters hiring candidates who do not culturally fit within the environment of the Firm.

Remembering that as a recruiter whether the market is in our favor or not, our overall attitude towards candidates is just as important.

Within the realm of HR, as professionals, we meet a lot of employees within our current Firm and previous Firms. And it is guaranteed that you will find employees who are technically astute and check all the boxes. However there is a clear concern on their attitude and behavioral attributes. Unfortunately attitude and behavioral attributes are some of the most challenging elements to change within oneself. We have all heard of the saying “past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.’ That should be taken into consideration.

A bit about my experience in the UAE

From 2003, until early 2008, we saw the UAE, particularly Dubai, as a candidate-driven market. We all received job offers, and had headhunters, agencies and career opportunities on a regular basis. As jobseekers we could negotiate salaries and the majority of the time, get an increase of 10-20% over what was initially offered.

However, within the later quarter of 2008, the market started to shift into an employer’s market. Firms were forced into making redundancies due to the economic meltdown. Initially where Firms tried to hold on, to avoid the public attention from journalists, they turned to performance management strategies to counsel out low performing employees, even looking at sick leave and punctuality. In such cases, performance management is the first element one should look at if the Firm does not require a mass redundancy exercise. When looking at performance management, the key that saved many employees or placed them in the zone of losing their jobs was their overall attitude. Employees who were monitored or survived were those who were resilient, flexible, and adaptable, took initiative and ensured they were aware of the market trends around them. This does not mean that Firms did not make redundancies and good caliber employees lost their jobs – as unfortunately this did occur.

From 2008 until now talent shortage has not been an issue and employers have been able to pinpoint and be very selective in every candidate they choose… with many jobseekers this went as far as what university the jobseeker graduated from.

Within the past couple of months of 2013, I have noticed additional market changes, as more jobs became available, however there is still no sign of talent shortage. I believe as we move into 2014 the market is likely to slowly start shifting into a candidate driven market more than an employer’s market as we have previously encountered. At the moment it is a candidate driven market for certain nationalities and a certain skill set. The market trend is difficult to fully predict as the UAE starts to ‘pick-up’. However, globally this is not the case as we see in Europe for example. We are also all aware of the political unrest in certain countries across the Arab region, therefore currently those looking to relocate at the moment, probably outweigh the current demand.

This could mean that where our focus was on new recruitment strategies, the shift is likely to become on effective management strategy and talent retention in order to stay ahead of the game.

And so, it is often a stereotype that recruitment is a routine role, however I am strong believer that every role we take on, can become a routine. So it is the individual him or herself that makes the role what it is, and gives the role limitations.

Let’s face it, as professionals who regularly interview candidates we never know who and what character is going to walk through the door.

By Zainah Baker, HR Manager, Audit, Deloitte Middle East

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