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

her suc­cess.

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.”

Doha de­mo­graph­ics

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.”

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