RIYADH: When applying for a job these days, Saudis need to think not just about the person reading their CV and cover letter, but the artificial intelligence involved as well.
The nature of employment in Saudi Arabia is in a state of rapid flux. While previous generations might have aspired to a career-long government position, younger jobseekers must be far more alert, nimble and ready for change.
Two distinct trends are emerging in the Kingdom: an overall move to the private sector as the government encourages economic diversification, and a growing focus on technology-related jobs.
A recent survey by the UK’s Open University found that no less than eight of the top ten ‘jobs of the future’ are in the realm of computer science: machine learning consultant (specialized in ‘data mining’), ethical hacker (testing cybersecurity systems), blockchain developer, AI developer, AI analytics engineer, data analyst, data protection officer and digital content strategist.
The clear message is: get with the technology, and keep up with it, or get left behind – and that applies to all sectors, from education to banking. As technology evolves, entirely new job functions are created and others become redundant.
Gone are the days when an employee could settle into a comfortable position and remain there for the rest of his or her working life. Today, a young person will more likely move jobs every two or three years, as he or she gains new skills and as new opportunities arise.
This inevitably means a constant and steep learning curve. Which begs the question as to how to succeed in this fast-paced, kinetic and tech-driven economy – whether you are a fresh graduate or a more seasoned mid-career professional.
Some requirements are obvious: the right qualifications; a short, clear and concize resume; a confident and professional interview manner; and managed expectations (the ideal role often being two or three positions away).
But Ahmed Bondagji, HR Director (KSA) at the French multinational L’Oreal, stresses that “even with all the right attributes, there is still a danger of falling through the net”.
One common mistake of jobseekers is to be too general or generic when applying for a job. Reputable organizations now rely on Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) to filter job applicants, which will be searching for key words relevant to the job in question, said Bondagji.
So, if you are applying for the position of Machine Learning Consultant, that exact phrase should be included in the brief personal summary (under the name and contact details) – along with any relevant experience and qualifications. If not, a potentially suitable candidate could well be bypassed.
And once an application has been short-listed by the HRIS, a ‘live’ recruiter will be sifting through dozens of resumes. Again, if those pertinent details are missing from the personal summary, he or she might not have the time to study the entire CV before moving onto the next.
Bondagji adds that the first stage of the recruitment screening process is often the employer’s own online job application form. Many jobseekers mistakenly assume that only a cursory filling-in of these forms is necessary – or only the mandatory fields.
The assumption is, “I can just provide basic information about myself because they will go to my attached resume for more details”. But the HRIS will search for keywords from the fields of its own e-resume and if those are missing, the candidate could well be missed out.
Bondagji’s final word of advice is to “be familiarized with your own resume”. That might sound obvious, but he has seen many candidates insert generic phrases such as ‘change management’ into their CV – and then, during the interview, become lost for words as to what that precisely entailed.
The message here is that a candidate should be ready to confidently expand upon, and discuss in detail, anything contained in his or her resume.
It is true that the very nature of work is constantly re-morphing, and that many of tomorrow’s jobs might not even exist today – but a simple requisite always remains in place for jobseekers, regardless of the circumstances: give employers what they are looking for, in terms of both information at the screening phase and readiness during the interview.
That is one way to stay ahead of the present and future employment curve.