the 10 most difficult IT hires.

We’ve known for a while now that there’s an IT talent shortage. But that shortage may be even bigger than you’d expect—in fact, more than a third of employers in the GCC area cite a lack of niche, specialist, and technical experts are hurting the industry, and making hiring a challenge.

Hundreds of companies in the MENA region are going through digital transformation processes, start-ups are flourishing across the UAE, and the overall competition for talent has reached its highest point in many years. There’s a marked shortage of people who know how to code, whether it’s for back-end mobile apps, or developing cloud-computing platforms.

We sat down to talk to our IT recruitment team, to ask them which roles they’ve found hard to fill in early 2018. While AI and data science jobs are on the top of the list, there are also a few surprises on our top ten, including translators. 

Our team stressed that candidates with experience in emerging areas like cognitive computing, machine learning, data analytics, Internet of Things, and blockchain are in immediate need in countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Likewise, professionals with emerging tech skills plus well-honed business sense will have their pick of jobs in 2018.


1. data scientists and big data talent.

Finding individuals with data science expertise continues to be a challenge, our IT consultants reported. Companies in the Middle East are more interested than ever in using data to inform business decision making and create a competitive advantage. As such, it has become increasingly more difficult to fill vacancies related to enterprise data management, big data, and analytics.


2. DevOps engineers.

Many organizations report that they are having trouble finding talent with DevOps experience, and in building teams that can tackle all steps of software construction, from integration to infrastructure management. After the practice gained visibility in the MENA market, due to its massive cost-saving abilities as a department, many companies have been looking for local talent with limited or no success.


3. tech translators.

A handful of our recruiters told us that they’re having a hard time in finding IT managers who can communicate effectively to non-technical staff. Technical translation covers the communication of specialized texts and requires a high level of subject matter knowledge, mastery of relevant terminology, and the ability to deliver the appropriate message to wider audiences of varied levels of understanding. In addition to making texts with technological jargon accessible, tech translators may have to translate from one language to another – a rare skill in the region.


4. security auditors.

This is another role where recruiters and hiring managers alike say that they’re having trouble finding candidates. Truly skilled and experienced security auditors will have in depth network, security, cloud, and virtualization knowledge, as well as the ability to interview developers, evaluate control sets, and accurately document their findings.


5. penetration testers.

Our IT recruitment team has found over the last couple of years that cybersecurity skills have been in increasing demand, especially in relation to penetration testing. While many testers can run tools and find bugs, expert penetration testers will translate this information into a clear statement of risk and threat, in order to drive the right decisions and actions.


6. robotics and cryptology experts.

Niche IT roles are always difficult to fill; the technology involved is cutting edge, hard to come by skills are required, and the candidate pool in the Middle East is inherently small. Roles such as cryptologists, big data experts, or malware reverse engineers are the most competitive for companies, allowing candidates to be extremely picky in regards to which positions they are pursuing. Furthermore, many of these roles are considered critical, and numerous hiring managers are trying to find candidates – all of which makes a tight market even more difficult.


7. cloud-native experts.

As enterprise cloud technology matures, there’s a growing need for, and limited supply of IT professionals with native cloud skills. Our team predict that the tech candidates that will be in the most demand this year as going to be those that have not only mastered new and emerging technologies around cloud native, but have strong people skills, and the business know-how needed to move large organizations forward.


8. data privacy experts.

Data privacy has not been a key issue for Middle Eastern companies in the past, especially compared to those in Europe who will need to be in compliance with the EU’s data protection regulations by May 2018. But when it does become an issue for an organization, finding tech pros with experience in this area proves difficult. As more companies start to focus on data privacy in 2018, from protecting their digital assets, as well as employee and customer information, candidate demand will quickly exceed supply.


9. IoT infrastructure roles.

It’s predicted that IoT will fundamentally change all industries, from agriculture, to transportation, to healthcare. In the next few decades, nearly everything in cities such as Dubai is expected to be connected, although the talent needed to make this happen is in short supply. Many companies in MENA are hiring for infrastructure roles in areas such as deep learning, computer vision, and IoT infrastructure. Hiring managers are having trouble finding staff with infrastructure experience, and are instead turning to recruitment companies to locate overseas professionals.


10. app developers.

App developers will be in greater demand in 2018, for higher level roles than simply coding. Businesses are looking to hire developers who can identity business needs and opportunities, and then design what the code would look like. Mobile engineers for both iOS and Android are in very high demand, as more companies are going mobile first, and the skills needed for these types of positions are still uncommon. Candidates that have already worked on multiple projects with responsive design will have no trouble finding suitable roles in the GCC market.


need a hand?

If your organization is having trouble recruiting for IT specialists, our recruiters advise that internal hiring managers should work closely with IT managers and line-level staff, to put together realistic job descriptions to widen your potential candidate pool. Job advertisements with so many requirements that they become hard to read, can overwhelm potential candidates, and work against companies who are trying to fill difficult vacancies.

Working closely with a recruitment firm can be time well spent, for organizations without dedicated HR departments and specialist IT recruiters. Recruitment agencies can provide a lot of guidance and advice on sourcing for specific IT roles, and have many years of experience locating and communicating with candidates that have niche skillsets.

If you would like to discuss IT recruitment services in greater detail, you can get in touch with one of our IT business managers by requesting a callback. 

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