Recruitment process ‘too slow’ in UAE, survey finds

Plenty of candidates available, but companies need to recruit faster

The time is ripe for organisations looking to recruit in the UAE, but a slow hiring process could mean that many miss out on the best talent.

A new study by Hays, conducted in association with Oxford Economics, has found that the country is experiencing a ready supply of skilled candidates and reduced wage pressure among companies.

However, the results of a recent study by Glassdoor suggested that the recruitment process in the UAE is among the slowest in the world, with the time taken from when a candidate submits an application letter to when a final rejection or offer is made averaging 35.8 days.

The Hays Global Skills Index 2017: Regional dynamics of the global labour market: skills in demand and tomorrow’s workforce, revealed that high net migration to the UAE helped feed the working-age population, and Oxford Economics’ forecasts put real wage growth at 2.9 per cent for year-end 2017, down from 3.6 per cent in 2016. But companies risk losing potential candidates if their recruitment processes take too long. “The longer it takes to hire, the greater the productivity loss for employers, and the longer money is left on the table waiting for potential candidates,” said Dr Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist.

Given the large amount of talent available, companies are also receiving high volumes of applications, which adds to the level of administration required. The multiple steps candidates go through before hiring takes place can also slow the process, said Graham Boyle, director HR & talent at Global Executive Consulting. “Most companies will start with an introductory phone call with the recruiter, then if that goes well, a face-to-face meeting with the recruitment manager. If that is successful, the hiring manager and possibly other managers will get involved,” he said.

“Some companies use psychometric testing, which can extend the time, but offers more detail on the candidate. Others use video interviews – which offer nothing a Skype or phone call does not provide,” said Boyle.

Bureaucratic procedures for registering foreign workers also inevitably add to recruitment time. “The majority of new residence visa applications relate to the hire of prospective employees. Outside of the free zones, the process is conducted by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization and the General Directorate for Residency (DNRD) and Foreigner Affairs,” said Jamie Liddington, partner and head of employment at law firm Hadef & Partners.

“The Ministry/DNRD process takes around three to four weeks from the point of submitting all documents and paying fees. The free zone processing times are typically less than two weeks. It is also now possible to conduct the process online for some free zones.”

Liddington admitted there was an element of administration and bureaucracy, but said processing times had improved vastly in recent years.