I registered with LinkedIn back in 2005 while I was living and working in Kazakhstan. At that time, LinkedIn was primarily a networking tool for recruiters and potential candidates. I recall joining various interest groups like Finance Professionals, Russia Networking Group and Global CFO’s in the hopes that some exotic role would evolve in the energy sector. I still have legacy contacts such as Miles Jennings from Recruiter.com and many of my former colleagues within the Deloitte Eastern European and Russia network. Prior to moving to the Middle East in 2009, I rarely used LinkedIn other than to see if any interesting CFO roles were posted in one or more of the specialty groups or to browse the contacts of recruiters to see if there was common ground to connect.
During my 10 years working in the Middle East (from 2009 to 2019), I came to understand that many of my contacts were fairly dormant and certainly were not going to lead to any lucrative roles if I did not take initiative. In 2012, I paid a career expert firm to review my CV and feed me with what I understood to be leads for “exclusive” CFO roles. Although the CV review was helpful, the leads I received over the three-month subscription period (1st month was free; 2nd & 3rd months were paid) never materialized into anything beyond me submitting my CV and disappointingly, never even lead to a phone interview. In hindsight, I would not recommend anyone to pay for such a service.
When I initially wrote this article in July 2019 (which I aptly titled "Will You Review My CV?"), I had moved on from my “pay for recruiting” service experience and realized that technology had changed significantly for all parties involved in the hiring, recruiting and placement process. Many candidates will find that they are at a significant disadvantage when going up against the recruiting agency, the potential company and artificial intelligence (AI-enabled) software referred to as ATS, or Applicant Tracking Software, that automates the process of recruitment and hiring.
Two examples from 2019 included:
Allyo (https://www.allyo.com) uses artificial intelligence to automate the process of communicating with the candidate and moving through the hiring process.
TalkPush (https://www.talkpush.com) and their use of chat bots to initiate conversations between candidates and recruiters.
There have been numerous startups between 2020 and 2022 that have entered the talent management field; while I do not track this sector specifically, it appears that the founding teams from such startups focus on their local markets and grow organically from within their community. Such a strategy is consistent with advice provided by startup incubators such as Y Combinator (https://www.ycombinator.com) or Entrepreneur First (https://www.joinef.com) to seek to "solve a personal pain point" with a solution that others will benefit from.
I first subscribed to the StrictlyVC newsletter in July 2018 and have made countless references to funding announcements that are included each week day by Connie Loizos, a senior editor with TechCrunch. Connie also started a weekly podcast titled "Download" with her colleague, Alex Gove, which generally features key technology and finance news headlines along with a feature interview with an experienced investor from the venture capital community.
The 31 January 2022 newsletter highlighted two recruiting related funding announcements:
Gupy, a seven-year-old, São Paulo, Brazil-based recruitment platform, has raised $90 million in funding co-led by SoftBank and Riverwood, with participation from Endeavor Catalyst and earlier backers Oria Capital and MAYA Capital. Reuters article: https://reut.rs/3uhKUfd
Alva Labs, a nearly five-year-old, Stockholm-based recruitment startup, has raised $13.1 million in Series A funding led by VNV Global. | https://www.alvalabs.io
The 10 May 2022 newsletter outlined the following features from a startup, Manara from California, that helps its clients flush out tech talent in North Africa and the Middle East:
“...cohort-based training platform…”
“...students do not pay any tuition fee…commit to 10% of salary in first two years of employment…”
TechCrunch article for Manara | https://tcrn.ch/3MlAJwb
Also in May 2022, Paris, France-based, Whoz, announced their €25 million fundraising success for their recruiting software which addresses such issues as skills mapping and team building. This is a link to the Business Wire article: https://rb.gy/rjcotk
Finally, the 8 December 2022 StrictlyVC newsletter featured Hunt Club, an eight-year-old Chicago startup that operates an AI-powered senior talent recruiting platform. This is a link to the TechCrunch article published by Kyle Wiggers: http://bit.ly/3Hvk6yJ
Candidates that list “Word, Excel, Powerpoint” or legacy ERP systems such as Oracle & SAP as their main technology experience will likely not be as competitive against those candidates that are familiar with SaaS (software-as-a-service) applicable to their discipline.
For example, accountants are expected to be familiar with the above "suite of tools" plus Quickbooks, NetSuite, Sage, Freshbooks and Xero to "keep the books". Depending upon the company, finance professionals will likely be expected to extend that experience to include expertise in, or familiarity with, CRM software (referred to as Customer Relationship Management) such as Salesforce, HubSpot, Agile CRM and Zoho.
Tech has changed significantly over the past 10 to 15 years. New tech products have moved from the “IT Department” to the “Operations” teams tasked with managing the business. SaaS today are affordable and bolt-on to existing ERP systems. SaaS verticals cross into many disciplines (HR, accounting, logistics, digital marketing) and sectors (real estate, retail, hospitality, healthcare, construction, fintech, insurance, education, farming, manufacturing, robotics, ridesharing, food delivery, etc).
When I am asked: “Will you review my CV”, I immediately I consider the backdrop of the above changes in technology and the sheer volume of innovative solutions available on the market. In my view, if a job seeker has made an effort to distribute their CV in response to a number of job openings and digitally posted their CV on various recruiter websites, it is highly likely that the “auto recruiting” SaaS have trolled such CV’s and provided direct feedback and analysis to the job poster.
As to the candidate, in most instances they will receive indirect feedback when there is “no reply” or in rare cases, they may receive an automated response “Thank you for application but your experience does not meet our client’s expectations”. Those are the lucky ones. For those candidates that have minimal “online” presence and have not had the opportunity to upgrade their skills to account for technological advances in their discipline or primary work activity, they will struggle to penetrate the automated recruiting services that apply AI (artificial intelligence) to select suitable candidates for available positions.
In the early 2000’s, “Will you review my CV?” was effective when performed by an individual specialist or expert that worked in the recruiting field or within an HR department of a people-centric business. In the era of big data -- think meta data volumes beyond gigabytes and megabytes into terabytes, petabytes and exabytes – an individual cannot compete against the AI and ML (Machine Learning) algorithms being run to compare thousands of on-line CV’s to the detailed job specifications set for one single role.
On several occasions, I responded to the question “Will You Review My CV?” with the answer “I would not review your CV even if you paid me” since I know there are many “free” resources on line. In fact, on 22 May 2019 I saw a post on LinkedIn whereby Funmilayo Awoyungbo was seeking guidance on hiring someone to pay to get her CV reviewed. Through a simple Google search, I found that even LinkedIn has a free service available so I provided her with the following reply:
There is no reason to pay for a CV review. In addition to YouTube, you could try:
Free CV Templates:
Free CV review
Finally, why not have some fun with Augmented Reality:
AR Business Card: http://bit.ly/2GSsS8R
Middle East Recruiting Firm
In early December 2022, I had a long chat on Microsoft Teams with Eslam Soliman, a finance expert in Cairo, Egypt. Eslam and I met in December 2018 when I presented at the MECA CFO Academy seminar in Dubai under the theme “Emerging Technologies and the Future of Finance”.
Eslam and his colleagues are building a recruiting website to match finance professionals with potential employers. Eslam first mentioned his plans to build such a platform in late 2020 / early 2021. Rather than talk about his "idea", Eslam showed me what they arranged to build, with the assistance of software engineers. I was impressed. Many people are ready to share their powerpoint pitch decks and detailed business plans of their "future" plans. Eslam and his colleagues took it to the next level. They have built, in my view, the early workings of a website that has potential to become a go-to market place for Middle East finance experts and employers to build long lasting relationships. From the early days of Monster.com and major job placement and executive search firms (Robert Half, Heidrick & Struggles, Michael Page, Adecco, Manpower, Odgers Berndtson, Boyden), there are literally hundreds of recruiting websites that have appeared over the years: ZipRecruiter, Indeed, Workopolis, GlassDoor, Ladders, Workable, Seekout, AvraTalent, CareerArc, ConveyIQ, SmartRecruiters, Zippia, Landit, Fairygodboss
As the 2022 examples demonstrate, local market expertise in Brazil, France, Chicago, California and Sweden appears to be driving innovation even in the face of intense competition on a global level. As I suggested to Eslam, if he is able to offer local job seekers and local employers a truly local solution -- in the Arabic language -- this could drive engagement and help build community. That community (or users) will go a long way to attract the attention of potential investors. A good example is Amazon acquiring Dubai-based Souq.com in March 2017 for $580 million or the acquisition of Kuwait-based food delivery startup, Talabat, in 2015 by Rocket Internet for $170 million.
My final suggestions for Eslam centered around a detailed review of tech recruiting firms I had performed in late 2021 while working with Jeffery Potvin and his team out of Toronto. Jeffery is the CEO and founder of Open People Network, a platform for startups to showcase their business and HardBoot Inc, a tech recruiting firm. While my review was not exhaustive, it did highlight some key items for Eslam to consider as he and his colleagues build out the website and related social media portals:
LinkedIn followers. This appears to be a key to engagement with the job search community:
Jobot has 1 million followers on LinkedIn (an increase from the 587,000 in 2021);
CyberCoders has 1 million followers (an increase from 705,000 in 2021);
Optello has 414,000 followers
Lancesoft has 288,000 followers
Optomi has 247,000 followers
Web Site features. Since their appears to be boundless options for job seekers and employers to choose from, the website "stickability" or ability to keep visitors engaged and focused on your site will be important. Common features of many of these top recruiting firms includes:
Job postings board: a great example is the Techcrunch "CrunchBoard" job listings);
Resources and links: Company blog and media posts, company staff directory, candidate skills directory, salary reviews, job postings, education and learning material, social media sites, client testimonials (candidates and employers)
Landing Page: seek to appeal to first time visitors; focus on familiarity and comfort; ease of use. For example, remove excess clutter, ensure links work; allow for key features to "follow" or "hover" wherever the visitor goes ("Get Started", "Find Candidates", "Find Employers", "Find Jobs", "LogIn")
Social Media. Many of the recruiting firms I reviewed did not have a consistent approach to how they post content on their website and/or their social media accounts (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok). If I was a recruiting firm in the Middle East, I would seek to post content 4 to 5 times a day (or more) with a focus on the Arabic language. Content related to candidates, content for employers, content around training and education, content around new funding by HR tech firms; content around local MENA companies getting funded; statistics around student hiring from local MENA Universities; news about job fairs and career days; other relevant “recruiting” news in the region and across the globe. Perhaps consider starting a YouTube channel or Clubhouse chat room: a local Arabic talk show to invite local JOB Seekers and local Employers to discuss local issues they are dealing with; local problems that local recruiting firm will seek to provide local solutions.
About the author
Allen Wazny is a Canadian Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) in good standing with CPA Alberta and Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) that has worked in progressive senior financial roles over the last two decades in oil & gas, mining, manufacturing , construction and renewable energy sectors in Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Since 2017, Allen has extensively researched emerging technologies and co-founded two blockchain projects. Such focus lead to strategic advisory roles with Uncloak™, a cybersecurity Blockchain startup in the UK; DIGIPHARM, a healthcare payments Blockchain startup out of Switzerland; a C-Level advisor to tech startups in Singapore; TimberWise Group, a startup out of Vancouver, Canada; Hardboot Inc. | Staffing & Resourcing out of Toronto, Canada; AI Vali, a health tech startup out of Toronto; Bankberry, a farm to fork start-up out of Bengaluru, India; and from May 2022, working with Justin Fox, CEO and founder of Backers Network Inc., a crowdfunding portal in Canada which includes recent share offerings for Vizetto and Streakers Gaming Inc.
Allen was a keynote speaker at the MECA CFO Academy seminar in Dubai on 1 December 2018 under the theme “Emerging Technologies and the Future of Finance”. Allen also participated as a panel expert at the IBM Event “AI-enabled Supply Chain Master Class” in Doha, Qatar on 19 June 2019.
Allen and his family relocated from the Middle East in 2019 and as of December 2022, resides in Calgary, Canada.