Alex Staff Agency

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Searching for local candidates anywhere in the world, even in a market closed to foreigners
The Client
We were contacted by a popular taxi and delivery service from one of the Gulf countries. The technical side of the project was already done, but what the team lacked were the resources for active development in the local market. The company's offices, from where the employees were supposed to work, are located in the cities of Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The Challenge
The client needed to gather a marketing and promotion team, including both junior-level specialists and managers in marketing, and country managers who would look for delivery and transportation partners “in the wild”.

All positions required local search since it'd take a talent from another region a long time to fully learn all ins and outs of the regional specificities. The local market of candidates is rather limited and closed.
Our help
Before beginning the search, we prepared for our client a thorough analysis of major market players in the countries of the MENA region and made a detailed report. This helped draw up a list of the requirements and tasks for future employees, and determine the roles that were needed to be filled as soon as possible. During this step, we found out that many companies from the same industry moved their marketing divisions to other countries, such as Egypt and the UAE.

We started work on 11 positions:
  • three starting positions (marketing coordinator, content writer, technical support specialist);
  • vacancies of digital marketing specialist, marketing communications manager, sales managers (search for partners and country development), marketing analyst and product manager;
  • three management positions: Head of Communications, Head of IT Support and Product Manager.

All the candidates must have had a transferable iqama, visa/work permit. Traditionally high by the region standards salaries and extended social packages were offered for each position.
We then posted these jobs on several local websites and social media, Facebook and LinkedIn. The main task was an active search for candidates. We found talents with relevant experience and connected with them. Since the market is quite narrow, it was important to ask candidates to recommend their colleagues who could be interested in the position. For example, we found 280 suitable SMM managers, but only 15% of those we contacted were looking for a new job and only 7 of those got invited for an interview. Nevertheless, that was the first position that we filled.

One of the specific characteristics of the region was a large lag between the day a candidate gets the offer and the day they start working. If on the CIS market this period usually lasts 2 weeks, and 2-4 weeks in the EU countries, here it could take up to 2 months.

We were actively negotiating with the finalists to reduce this lag and asked them to learn their new tasks even before the complete transition to a new place, in case their current job allowed it.

Another thing was that the candidates spoke only the local language, and we needed specialists with good English skills, since some of the company's divisions are located in Europe, and we ourselves need to be able to communicate with the candidates. That became difficult when looking for juniors, while more experienced candidates already spoke English in most cases.

The communication channels also differed from the ones used in Europe. WhatsApp and Skype aren't available in Saudi Arabia. Telegram is, but it's work is unstable. The country has their own messengers, but more often than not they don't support the English language, only Arabic, or they won't let you create an account without a local phone number. Here's when Snapchat came in handy: it's widely used in the region, including for business negotiations.
The Result
In the process of searching, the client's requirements changed a bit. For example, the candidate for the SMM manager position was able to close all requirements, so an assistant wasn't needed anymore. Some positions, like Call Center Manager, were filled by the client. The data and reports provided by us, among other things, resulted in the decision to expand their offices in other regions.

We filled the positions that the client struggled the most with:
  • Digital Marketing Specialist
  • Product Manager
  • 4 Sales Managers (covered the current needs of the company by 100%)
  • SMM Manager

All employees successfully passed the probationary period. We, in turn, showed a great result in an unfamiliar and specific area, in both terms of candidate evaluation and market analysis. Later the client entrusted us with hiring various specialists for different offices in their countries of presence, from Saudi Arabia and Jordan to Cyprus.
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