Why are UAE recruiters missing the boat?

IR #079

I am writing this as lately I have been coming across multiple posts on LinkedIn from disgruntled candidates lashing out against recruitment agencies about their shoddy attitude. This includes publicly naming and shaming HR managers, recruiters and agencies. I completely condemn those posts as it is in bad taste and utterly unprofessional. Imagine if the company you work for decided to do the same every time you messed up.

I have lived in the UAE for 20 years now. Over the past 5 years I have had the need to reach out to recruiters and recruitment agencies on multiple occasions… Not a happy feeling. I never nursed any regrets or bad feelings against any of them despite never being able to even secure a meeting to discuss my profile (barring a few rare occasions). I just believed that it is the norm.

However recently I had the opportunity to interact with 2 recruiters from different parts of the world. One from Hong Kong and the other from Copenhagen. My interaction with them completely blew away my mind and lead me to start comparing my experiences with their local counterparts.

This is when my bubble, that recruitment/headhunting practices in this part of the world were world class and of the highest standard, was brutally busted.

To summarize my experience with both non UAE recruiters –

  • I received emails/messages requesting for a time to talk to me. (Blown away by their respect for MY time)
  • Calls were made at the exact agreed upon time. (No waiting and anxiety)
  • The name of the company they were recruiting for was revealed at the start of the conversation. (No more shooting in the dark for “a major company/agency in the region)
  • A detailed conversation on the job role and my experiences related to that. (Pretty much standard)
  • My expected package was asked. (Unlike the “What is your current package?” question I was used to – I felt valued; Not price tagged )
  • The company’s ballpark offered package was disclosed and no haggling over the package I demanded. (Felt respected – The package was for the role and not for the person)
  • After the call, I received a thank you email from the recruiter before I could send them one. (WOW!!)
  • The email included a detailed Job Description and a completely filled out form with my details asking me if they had got all details right. (I was so used to the drab excel sheet that recruiters here send across requiring me to fill out despite having sent across my CV)
  • Received another email informing me that my profile has been forwarded to the client.
  • Then received a message from the company (employer) CRM asking me to set my password and take an online test. (The complete process of filling out my profile on a system like Taleo was already completed by the recruiters – This was mind blowing)
  • They responded to every email I sent them post this with my silly questions. (I felt like they genuinely cared for me)

With this kind of experience, I really do not mind NOT landing those roles if I do not manage to in the days to come. The whole process was such a wonderful experience that I have a new found respect for people in the “people industry.”

This is not a rant against the recruiters working in the region and I do not intend to name and shame agencies or people. Just thought I would share my opinion on how these hard working members of our professional fabric are maybe missing the boat.

These are just 4 points of how a recruiter or an agency can stand above the crowd of freelance recruiters, mom & pop recruitment agencies and talent farms out there. You do not need to follow the earlier mentioned process to the tee, just make a few small changes in your approach.

If you receive a direct mail from a candidate, the least you can do is acknowledge it.

I completely understand that in a market like Dubai, recruiters are swamped with a huge volume of CV’s on a daily basis. The process of going through everyone in detail is a physically daunting and time consuming task.

However, take a moment to think about this. If you received a CV in your inbox directly from a candidate, and not via a CV submission form built into your internal CRM, there are most probably only 2 reasons.

  • You asked for CV’s to be sent to you on that email id.
  • The candidate made efforts to find your email id and send it to you.

In both cases, I believe that the effort put in by the candidate needs to be acknowledged and a simple one line “Thank you for your CV. I will get back to you in case it is a match.” will go a long way in not only enhancing the reputation of the agency but also give the candidate a small morale boost as well.

Please keep the automated replies only for CV submissions on your website.

If you do talk to a candidate for a role, the least you can do is give them an update or better still… Feedback.

This is also a practice that is rampant in the industry. How many of us have actually got a call from a recruiter, spent a good 15 minutes discussing the role and then never heard from them again?

Once again, I understand the volume that recruiters go through in a day. However, if a candidate gives you 15 minutes of his time to allow you to do your job efficiently, you owe him/her an update. I do not ask for recruiters to call them up again (Although, it is ideal), a simple email will do. Letting them know that they have not been shortlisted, with a few lines on why another candidate was chosen ahead of them.

This not only leaves a lasting impression in the mind of the candidate, but also gives both parties closure. There is no more hanging in limbo about their chances (for the candidate) nor is there the need for the recruiter to answer (or in most cases – ignore) future calls from the candidate. A small 2 minute investment can save loads of time in the future.

If someone drops off their CV at your desk, the least you can do is not make it a notepad.

I have seen hard copies of CV’s being used as scribbling pads in some recruitment agencies I visited. Not only is this extremely degrading… it is just plain insensitive. I can understand taking notes on my CV when we are having a chat about potential roles, but using a random CV to take note of the type of Subway sandwich your colleagues want to order for lunch is pathetic.(For a lack of other polite words)

A CV is a representation of a person who has entrusted you with it. By all means, throw it in the trash if it clutters your desk but do not use it as pieces of scrap paper meant to ensure mayo and ranch dressing does not dirty your desk.


Re-brand your thinking. Move from a “Recruitment Agency” to a “People Agency”.

The very fact that you see yourself as a Recruitment Agency or a recruiter automatically alters your mindset to be obligated to the company you are recruiting for rather than the candidate you are trying to hire.

Once again I understand that it is the client is who pays your bills. However, you fail to understand that the recruiter/agency is only as good as the candidate you will be forwarding. You are judged and hired not based on the quantity of clients you already have… but on the quality of candidates you have put forward.

A cute/funky/abbreviated/name partnered agency name will just not make the cut in years to come. Don’t just pander to your clients, empathize with the candidates. Shift focus from “filling positions” to “fulfilling aspirations”.

Both the client and the candidate will hold you in a much higher regard.

Am pretty sure, with this post I am now on the black list of all recruitment agencies in the region. But then… I was never hired for keeping my opinions to myself.



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