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Taking the next step: Logistics career analysis

by Ahmad Lala on Dec 20, 2012

As the logistics companies and job seekers gear up for the ‘busy season’ for recruitment, Logistics Middle East sits down with three leading consultants to get their views on all things job related.

LME: What is your view on the logistics job market in the region in the past year?

Brian Cartwright, managing director MEA region, Logistics Executive: The jobs market in the logistics sector has been slow over the past year but it’s certainly improving year by year, especially since 2008/09 when practically every company had a freeze on recruitment or were re-trenching. Now that the summer is over, the next few months are prime time for both jobseekers and companies.

As recruiters, we have to work really hard to hunt out good opportunities for our candidates, but with such a high number of people in the market looking for new opportunites, we haven’t been able to help everyone. Finding the right job in this market is, unfortunately, not a quick fix. There is a lot of competition from other job hunters, and companies want more for their money in terms of how much (or how little) they are prepared to pay people. Yet they do have higher expectations in terms of the qualifications and experience of potential candidates.

Nicola McCart, director, Hamilton Recruitment: The market is steady with regard to vacancies coming up, but it is also vital to point out that there is still a highly competitive market for businesses and for candidates to operate. This has been the case for some time and I don’t see this changing any time soon.

Job seekers must remember this when applying for jobs, presenting themselves at an interview and also managing their salary expectations. With regard to businesses, every business has to justify its spend and that is very much the case when it comes to the cost of salaries for the business. When a company recruits, the obvious selection criteria involves the candidates’ ability to carry out a required job, but we are also looking for candidates that can make a difference. For example, we look for increased profits, and increased efficiency in driving costs.

With regard to logistics sector, there’s definitely a demand for experienced professionals, especially in oil and gas, transportation, aviation, and the humanitarian industries. The other challenge in the Middle East job market is the naturalisation programme.

Mahmoud El-Sharkawy, managing director, Florence International Consulting: On the high level there are always opportunities, and on the high level, where we as an executive recruitment firm work, candidates are always difficult to find. Things are definitely picking up and looking more stable. And there is a lot more regional development when it comes to logistics.

LME: Looking ahead to 2013, do you feel anything will change?

Brian Cartwright: I personally think the future for Logistics-related employment in the Middle East is very positive. For sure there will continue to be ups and downs, both economical and political, which will hinder progress, but there will be progress. That said, I think that the jobs market will continue to fluctuate over the coming year. Most companies are having to fight hard to keep their heads above water right now, but bear in mind that there are still companies setting up new operations in the region, which will lead to new jobs being created. The problems in Europe mean that many of the major European providers are looking towards expanding their wider global operations to help top up any shortfall from their business units which may be suffering in Europe.
On the other hand, there is also an over supply of LSPs, especially in the UAE, which means that fierce competition is ongoing and everyone is extremely cost conscious, but the upside of this is that the top-performing employees are always in demand. Job hunters should try to make themselves as marketable as possible by adding to their experience and qualifications with additional training and education through organisations like the CILT. It is advisable to avoid job-hopping. If your current job is secure, stay put. The grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side, so before jumping ship, you should really do your homework on any potential new employers.

Nicola McCart: I believe that 2013 will be a better time for business in terms of stability, and hopefully, investments. On top of this, the Middle East has various exciting projects taking place, in the energy sector, aviation, rail, tourism and health and safety. This includes the oil and gas industry– this will generate more opportunities and help with stability.

Mahmoud El-Sharkawy: I think things will only get stronger going forward, simply because this is a developing market. Developing markets by nature crash quicker, but also by nature they grow quicker as well.

This region is a developing market and its growth, as you’ve seen in Dubai this year, will be substantial particularly in the services industry, which is supported by the logistics industry. So I see continued strong growth with probably Saudi, Qatar and the UAE leading the way.

LME: In your view what are the most common mistakes made by candidates when trying to move/ find a job?

Brian Cartwright: People often have unrealistic expectations of how much their salary should increase if they are to move jobs. This ultimately backfires when they don’t get offered the job. Remember everyone is cost-conscious and there are many other job hunters.

Also there are lots of people who spend time applying en masse for a diverse range of positions, many of which they aren’t suitably qualified or experienced for. Think quality, not quantity, and apply for jobs which you can honestly say you are qualified for and where you have a proven track record in a similar role. Don’t waste time sending mass applications, use the time to thoroughly search out the jobs you are suitable for.


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