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Sun 1 Oct 2006 12:00 AM

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Recruitment culture

Selina Smyth, associate director of property and real estate for ITP Consulting, shares her experiences of recruiting in the FM market.

Recently, we have found that locally based clients are using counter offers as a tool to retain.

We are still shocked to hear when a company uses this as a negotiating tool as you would think that when an employee has been through the process to leave, their loyalty to their current employer is compromised, yet clients do not seem to consider this.

We have also found that the period between accepting an offer and the relocation date to UAE is the most critical part of the recruitment process for international hires, yet the market is still not mature enough to understand the importance of this.

It is during this period that candidates become anxious, scared, de-motivated and may even begin to show signs of not wanting to relocate to the new job.

As with any industry if you want good people, you need to work at getting them here and make sure they and their families are at ease all the way to the end.

Obviously understanding the business dynamics and drivers behind the vision of a client is paramount in making this selection process as seamless as possible.

Our approach as a headhunter has certainly changed over the years due to the changing demands of our clients in the region.

More emphasis is being put on the cultural ability to fit into the Middle Eastern way of life as well as the organisational fit.

This has definitely superceded the importance of a ‘perfect’ technical skill set required for a role.

Obviously technical skills are paramount but so is the ability to work in an economy where culture is respected as such a huge part of daily life.

Also with an increasing requirement for UAE Nationals within the FM sector, the actual approach call to attract candidates has changed. We are no longer selling Dubai as a concept but are now selling the opportunity itself and the growth potential within the client.

Having been fortunate enough to have sourced and placed a number of UAE Nationals in senior positions across the FM sector, we would highlight again the need for corporates to recognise the importance of cultural fit and the benefits a UAE National can bring to the team.

Three years ago, clients may have settled for a maintenance manager who had a strong technical skill set but limited knowledge of an integrated FM offering.

Nowadays clients require a true FM professional with FM qualifications, international exposure, cultural awareness and the ability to succeed in delivering complex support services.

Without the ability to deliver exceptional customer service on some of the world’s most unique projects, a true FM will not succeed in such a dynamic country.

With client expectations rising, salaries increasing and skill sets becoming scarcer, corporates are beginning to recognise the importance of sourcing, securing and more importantly retaining their people in this fast-expanding sector.

Facilities Management is all about people and the driver behind this is customer service.

If you don’t have the right people your service levels will fail.

Retaining a consultant to recruit is still a new concept in Dubai, however good people do not sit on databases, so headhunting (or targeted search) is required in order to guarantee the best quality and maximum long term benefits for your business.

We have certainly found that although awareness has increased dramatically over the years, there is still a long way to go in terms of the FM education process and finding people who understand ‘true FM’.

Incorporating Western best practice into a developing Middle Eastern market will take time and currently it is still in the early stages of development.

The mentality in Dubai has, for so long, been to construct buildings and not to maintain, manage or operate them - changing this to include the benefits of preserving an asset and managing facilities will still require some more persuasion before the concept is truly accepted.

With this in mind, sourcing senior FM professionals for this market is certainly not an easy ride.

Dubai is a country of wealth, sunshine and tax-free packages, so encouraging candidates from the West to relocate is not difficult.

However finding, and more importantly securing them, is not as easy.

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