It is human nature to aspire for more. A better job and higher status is something that drives most of us. One of the avenues to improve one's career prospects is the online professional portal, LinkedIn. Head of Talent Solutions, Ali Matar, discusses wha
Established in 2002 and headquartered in Mountain View, California USA, LinkedIn has grown into the world's largest professional social network making great leaps into the mobile space. What sets LinkedIn apart from other job portals is that it is a networking haven for leading business companies around the world. It offers an even ground for candidates whose resumes are otherwise lost in cyberspace.
It offers direct access to those in authority to hire. This is especially useful for expats in the Middle East who may not have easy access to employers. LinkedIn's Ali Matar says, “Professionals in the Middle East and elsewhere are finding themselves working in an increasingly connected and networked world. More and more business is done online, and the internet is where most people first look for information on people, products or services.”
Matar joined LinkedIn Middle East in 2012 as Director of Hiring Solutions. Based in Dubai, he is responsible for growing an in-house sales team and taking LinkedIn's suite of Hiring Solutions to clients across the Middle East and North Africa. He believes, “By being present and engaged with us, professionals increase their chances of finding or being found by the next opportunity, whether that's a new client, business partner, or potential employer.”
Roselynn Anne mentioned her first published recipe book on the portal and was soon receiving requests from magazines and newspapers who wanted to document
Many members on the website already have successful jobs. They aren't necessarily looking for work. Around 75% of LinkedIn's members are passive candidates (not actively searching for a job), and 25% are active candidates. “Before LinkedIn there was no place to find both passive and active candidates on this scale in one place. In fact, the most interesting transformation we are seeing now is that professionals who are not looking for a job still go to LinkedIn to update their profile whenever something new happens in their professional lives and careers,” says Matar.
We may live in an online world, but when it comes to sharing your personal information, people are still skeptical. One of the strengths of this social network is that references can always be traced back to their original source. Matar says, “The type of information our members share is the information they want to be found: their skills, their experience, and their professional accomplishments.” Professionals are increasingly realising the value of making this information discoverable because of the professional opportunities that can arise.
Having other professionals endorse your skills is another feature that makes this website a credible avenue for employers. Of course, this took a negative spin last month when the website offered a premium service to members who could send ‘Inmails' to a job seeker's past references. Members felt violated when they understood that potential employers can reach a former colleague who may not necessarily offer positive feedback on them or know them well enough. The matter is still in court.
“Having a successful career comes down to three things: who you are, who you know, and what you know. By enabling professionals to establish their online professional identity, connect with their network of contacts, and share knowledge, we help them become more successful at the job they have or get the job they want. As a result of this focus, we've been able to grow to a membership of 332 million professionals worldwide,” says Matar.
The Middle East market doesn't make it easy for those who might decide to switch jobs, particularly in countries like Qatar where an employee requires a No Objection Certificate to move on. The website has many groups that discuss these issues. “We provide a great source of information and insights for members through the millions of LinkedIn groups covering a wide spectrum of issues and topics. Moreover, with over 12 million members in MENA, professionals can reach out to each other and to the recruiters representing companies to seek advice and guidance,” confirms Matar, though discussions might not be the end solution in such restrictive climates.
People from the MENA region can hope to be sourced by international companies. Matar says, “Our data shows that talent flows in many different ways around the world. We recently published an analysis into the talent migration patterns between several markets worldwide. We found that the UAE was the most popular destination for talent, compared to the other markets we looked at. This reflects the growth in the Middle East, and its attractiveness as a place to work. More than 40% of members relocating to the UAE received a promotion along with the move.”
With infrastructure upgrade and high expectancy for the 2022 World Cup, Qatar is in need of a dynamic professional workforce. Matar says, “As with the wider region, Qatar is home to a young population and access to the internet is helping them discover opportunities, seek advice and build relationships with high–quality professionals from across the world. This is partly why we're seeing strong growth in membership, with more than 12 million professionals on LinkedIn in the MENA region alone. Recent graduates and students are the fastest-growing demographic on LinkedIn, accounting for 39 million members today globally. As a result, more and more companies are turning to us to find talent.”
Matar has himself changed career paths from the construction industry to the technological field. He offers his own perspective: “I graduated as a civil engineer and worked in the field for almost two years. After this, I completed my MBA and moved to the IT and Software industries. Both fields helped in shaping the professional I am today. The single most important advice that I can offer other professionals is to follow their passion and once they find it, give it their 100% in terms of energy, focus, and devotion. We all make mistakes but that's the only way to learn and move forward. At LinkedIn, we encourage our people to take intelligent risks – this is how we can keep transforming ourselves personally and professionally.”