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Social networking activities have changed employers’ opinions of candidates, making a professional online presence more important than ever, according to the Personal Branding in the Middle East and North Africa poll conducted by job site Bayt.com.
The poll has shown that managing one’s online presence and creating a powerful personal brand is more important than ever, with nine out of 10 respondents turning to the internet to search for people they’ve just met or are about to meet, and 70.5% of polled professionals saying they have changed their mind about a candidate based on their online presence.
More than half of the poll’s respondents (54.3%) say they are aware of the concept of personal branding, with 81.9% claiming to search for themselves online on search engines like Google. Just under half (46.5%) stated they ‘always’ look themselves up on the internet, while 46.2% ‘always’ turn to online search engines to find out more about those they have met, or are about to meet. At the same time, 41.5% of responding companies ‘always’ research new hires online before hiring, with a fifth maintaining they (19.8%) ‘sometimes’ do so.
Suhail Masri, VP of Sales, Bayt.com, said: “The large number of companies that research candidates makes it more essential than ever for a candidate to have a professional and appealing online presence on a leading professional careers platform with significant regional inroads in order to secure a job. In fact, even something as simple as a photograph could influence decision-makers, with eight in 10 (79.6%) respondents of the belief that their online photo effects how they are perceived.”
The majority of respondents (68.9%) feel that current social networks allow them to convey their key strengths at a professional level, although three quarters (74.6%) are concerned that sharing information online poses a threat to their privacy. More than a third of respondents (37.6%) also claim that privacy is one of the biggest issues when it comes to managing their personal brand, followed by the challenge of not knowing where to start with formulating a professional personal brand (21.1%).
Despite this, the overwhelming majority (92%) of respondents think that personal online branding increases their career opportunities, with the most important benefits being the ability to showcase their abilities (23.2%), and connect to their target audience (21.1%). Being able to distinguish themselves from others in their field (14.7%) and becoming an expert or thought leader (13.2%) are also important.
Mr Masri concluded: “The time has never been more apt for people in the MENA region to start shaping and monitoring their online presence. Developing a strong online personal brand as the poll shows, is essential not only for job seekers, but also for ambitious professionals at all career levels and in all industries looking to move up the corporate ranks and connect with peers, employers and clients.”