Recruitment and retention under spotlight at Arabian Travel Market

09 May 2013

On-the-spot hiring an emerging trend for personal branding usurping traditional resume; seminar sessions explore challenges and opportunities for regional human resources professionals in today’s Gen Y marketplace

Seminar sessions on the final day (9 May) of the 20th anniversary of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2013, brought human resources and learning professionals together as part of the Careers Day programme, to examine the latest trends impacting recruitment and retention in the Middle East.

Opportunities through social media strategy development drove the panel discussions in several sessions, with the integration of social technologies into the recruitment, engagement and development process prompting a re-evaluation of business processes.

Lynne Bellinger, Managing Director UAE for Purple Cubed, and moderator for two seminar sessions focusing on team performance and fostering company values, highlighted on-the-spot hiring as an active trend of particular relevance to this part of the world, with a busy hotel pipeline challenging human resources managers looking to hire for new properties.

“Whilst hotels have challenges with mass recruitment, especially when it comes to new openings, there are better ways of conducting on-the-spot hiring. The Emirates Group has got it so right by putting all candidates, regardless of position, through an assessment centre, and this is something that hotels could also do in conjunction with mass recruitment days,” she said.

“Alternatively, they could invite successful on-the-spot candidates back for a second day of assessments, group activities, role-play etc., which is a good fit with the hospitality sector where great personality for both front and back-of-house employees is very important,” she added.

Bellinger also flagged recruitment process time saving as a major benefit, but urged employers to be aware of the fact that a fast hire can result in miscast personality matches in the long run.

Another trend on the agenda this week was gamification, as gaming mechanics are increasingly incorporated into traditional business activities such as marketing, and learning and development.

“Some forward-thinking companies are adapting themselves to fit this new paradigm, and many are doing so by embracing the process of gamification. As the Gen Y workforce is only getting bigger - currently it’s at 25% of the workforce and will rise to 50% within 10 years – trends such as gamification are going to become an accepted part of the business process, supported by technological innovation,” she said.

Bellinger is also seeing a shift in the way that potential recruits ‘pitch’ themselves, with personal branding changing the way that resumes are presented and skill sets are communicated, as well as forcing employers to become more social media savvy, as she explained: “One resume I received was designed like a metro map; it was really creative and certainly memorable. It’s a great idea to put your personal image/brand on your resume as an immediate differentiator, but employers need to look out for cut and paste resumes that don’t accurately reflect the individual.

“At Purple Cubed we always ask for a one page resume, with ten bullet points as to why they would be a good fit for the specific job and our organisation. We also actively research a candidate’s online presence such as their LinkedIn profile or Twitter feed, as this gives additional invaluable insight.”

With a constant pipeline of new openings and little movement in service staff salary and benefits’ packages, Bellinger believes that the recruitment and retention environment in the region will only become more challenging in the next year or so, especially as other markets continue to develop their tourism and hospitality industry and offer more competitive packages.

“If we consider the UAE as an example, many of the hotels are poaching staff from one another and this is a hugely contentious topic. Hotels should have an agreement to not recruit from other properties unless the applicant has worked for them for at least two years, which is a good indicator of loyalty, and allows the hotel to recoup its hiring costs,” she remarked.

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