Revitalising recruitment in Saudi Arabia

Written by
Bader Al-Dulaimi

19 Apr 2017

19 Apr 2017 • by Bader Al-Dulaimi

Sourcing and recruiting top talent is a challenge shared by many large employers in Saudi Arabia. We need to attract the right people: candidates who demonstrate specific abilities, expertise and knowledge; who have the potential to progress along the career paths we offer and to take up senior positions in future. 

We, of course, invest substantial effort in recruiting nationals, to boost the localisation of Saudi Readymix and to support the Saudi workforce. We have increased our workforce to more than 3,000, but there is no magic bullet. We are taking a multi-pronged approach that includes branding, technology, and last but not least, smart processing. It might sound a bit technical, but measuring and maximising the quality and efficiency of our talent acquisition process has a major impact on the
candidate’s experience. 

Recruitment as a strategic business function

Recruitment really is viewed and treated as a strategic business function by all departments within Saudi Readymix. This doesn’t happen by accident. It stems from our forward-thinking senior managers who strongly believe that the people brought into the company by our talent acquisition team have a direct impact on our products, performance and results.

I don’t think any organisation can be successful in the medium or long term without the right employees in place to help it grow and innovate, or without buy-in from the top. We have put in place specific KPIs to measure our recruitment such as time to hire, offer acceptance percentage, interview to applicant ratios, average vacancy open times, and vacancy ratios, which provide insights into what goes on in our talent acquisition team.

The role of technology

Technology plays a critical role in our HR transformation strategy. With the internet, social media and mobile technology, employers need to jump on the technology bandwagon.

For example, our mobile-optimised career portal is by far the most important communication channel for attracting top talent. We also use social media channels and networks, as well as below-theline campaigns internally and externally, in order to generate traffic to the portal. 

The site is integrated with our central e-recruitment system, which is mapped to our processes and allows us to track the entire recruitment cycle, from posting jobs on a job board, to the online application process and hiring phase. The system also provides us with all the KPIs mentioned earlier and several kinds of report to help decision makers take action promptly.


Recruitment as a customer journey

Our recruitment team dedicates quite some time to understanding the hiring managers’ needs and business requirements. However, every member also invests substantial resources in delivering a great candidate experience from beginning to end, because we believe this is integral to attracting the best people.

The team is continuously exploring new methods and technologies which can lead to more efficient sourcing, hiring and onboarding. Luckily, the application processing phase is not where recruiters spend most of their time. We do receive thousands of applications but we have the tools in place to make screening quick, easy and accurate. When people pass through our online application process, the questions are specific to the role for which they have applied, and we have a sophisticated grading system.

The hiring team uses our e-recruitment system to shortlist and filter applicants using criteria including these automatically generated grades, qualifications, experience and skills. We treat recruitment as a customer journey and it requires an integrated approach. We begin by defining our target audience and take these people along a path that reflects and clarifies who we are as an organisation.

We study all the touch points our candidates will experience from the moment they visit our career portal to the moment they sign the contract. We have another HR department that looks after our employees, their satisfaction, development and retention. Our current strategy when it comes to managing employees’  growth, is to create a special development programme which includes rotation training and a personal development plan. We have implemented a sophisticated appraisal system based on SMART objectives.

The talent pool

We spend a lot of resources, time and effort attracting and engaging with high-quality people, but we cannot hire everyone. We store these potential employees in our centralised talent pool of contacts, which has become our most valuable source of top candidates. Because we already have a relationship with these people, the hiring process can be quicker – in some cases, we never even have to post a job on the career portal or on job sites because we have found the right candidates within this database. 

Changing candidate expectations

Candidate expectations have evolved in many ways, but I think the internet has driven most of the change. People use the web and their mobile devices for a lot of things, from buying products to reading the news. Because most e-commerce and news websites are slick, people have grown used to getting things done quickly and smoothly.

When these individuals land on a company’s website or web-based hiring system, they expect the same quality of experience. Unfortunately, in today’s recruitment landscape, there is a disconnect between what top candidates want and what employers deliver. This is why we felt strongly about designing a mobile, online recruitment process and building a robust employer brand. Both influence how top talent perceives a company.

The future of recruitment

The competition will be aggressive for both candidates and employers. Candidates will need to increase their level of education to stand out from the crowd. Students may have to consider specialising in very specific areas to gain an edge over all the other applicants in the job market. Companies will have to ensure they have a strong brand, a smart recruitment strategy and favourable compensation and benefit schemes.