Competition grows in online recruitment

Skill-link.com has moved into the Gulf's online recruitment market from its homebase in Egypt; but competitors Bayt.com and CareerMidEast.com have plenty up their sleeve

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By  David Ingham Published  February 23, 2001

The Gulf’s human resources departments have another option when it comes to seeking out employees online. The latest player to enter the Gulf’s competitive online recruitment market is Egyptian company, Skill-link.com, which has established a UAE office and plans to open in Kuwait in April.

Skill-link.com is a three way venture between business advisor FinRate Consulting, executive headhunting firm SkillRate and LinkdotNet, a large private ISP.

Between its establishment last year and its arrival in the UAE this year the company’s focus was solely on the Egyptian market. But now, managing director Alaa El Ghadban is eyeing the Gulf market and he’s set himself an ambitious goal. He says that he wants to make the Skill-link ‘man’ in the company’s logo (above) as recognisable as the Michelin ‘rubberman.’

In order to do that, he’ll have to take on two well recognised rivals in CareeerMidEast.com and Bayt.com, which just upped the ante by launching its service in Arabic. Skill-link.com claims its edge is competitive pricing and a policy of total confidentiality for job seekers.

Job seekers using Skill-link enter all of their information into a pre-defined template and any element that may give away that candidate’s identity is blanked out. Employers using Skill-link are able to specify exactly what they are looking for through a simple interface that uses drop down menus.

Around the core job and employee search facility, Skill-link is trying to build up additional ‘value-add’ such as hints and tips, recruitment news and case studies.

Pricing for Skill-link has been set at a competitive rate to build up clients. Employers pay an annual subscription of AED 3000 in the UAE, plus AED 1000 if they hire an employee.

“We’ve tried to be cheaper than the cheapest alternative,” says El Ghadban. “We needed to give users that kind of incentive.”

If a hire leaves within three months of taking a job, El Ghadban says Skill-link will try to replace the employee and won’t charge for doing so. The service is entirely free of charge for job seekers.
UAE country manager, Heba Ali-de Maurissens, says that Skill-link also carefully vets CVs before they’re posted, and meets candidates before they go for interview with an employer.

Revenue will come from annual subscriptions, placement fees and advertising. El Ghadban says he expects profitability in Q2, 2002.

Whilst Skill-link.com believes it has a good story, its rivals have also been active in the market. Bayt.com insists that its new Arabic offering is vital if it’s to offer employers and job seekers a complete service.

“We are operating in a region where most of our users, both job seekers and employers, speak Arabic as a first or second language,” says Rabea Ataya, chief executive officer, Bayt.com. “It is crucial that we provide them with the opportunity to make important decisions regarding their careers and lifestyles using the language that they are most comfortable with.”

Bayt began operations around November last year and says that it’s now signed up 1400 employers and has 25,000 job seekers in its database. Its list of clients includes Motorola, Gray Worldwide and Cisco.

Bayt declines to reveal how many people it’s successfully placed since its launch, but reckons it will be operationally profitable in six months time. CEO Ataya also said that advertising revenue is building steadily, although Bayt.com’s business model isn’t reliant on it.

CareerMidEast.com, based out of Egypt like Skill-link.com, has also recently been beefing up its service. The company now has 12 country-specific channels on its site and recently claimed to have over 100,000 job seeker CVs in its database.

Its latest move is to add an online payment mechanism to its Web site, allowing employers to pay subscription and placement fees instantly online. “The new online payment feature makes recruiting via CareerMidEast.com even easier,” says Tarek Amin, chief marketing officer and co-founder of CareerMidEast.com.

Only time will tell whether all three sites can co-exist or whether competition will ultimately bring about consolidation. In the meantime, the Gulf’s human resources personnel have a healthy choice of online recruitment services.

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