Riyadh, KSA — Despite a possible economic slowdown experienced globally, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is experiencing a significant boom. With projections set at an all-time high, and unemployment rates remaining low, today, most job candidates are aware of their attractiveness to employers. Compared to 75% globally, 72% of employees in the KSA are approached multiple times per year about new job opportunities—and 39% of those are approached every month. In addition, 69% of job seekers feel they are in a strong negotiating position when looking for a job, a figure that runs 5% higher to the global average, where only 14% feel that employers hold the reins in job offer negotiations, next to 18% in KSA. Confidence is highest among those who work in digital, media and legal and lowest among workers in healthcare, service and hospitality.

These are among the findings of a new study released today by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network, a global alliance of recruitment websites. Titled “What Job Seekers Wish Employers Knew,” the study is based on a survey dedicated to exploring job seekers’ recruitment preferences providing a comprehensive analysis of major international markets, including Saudi Arabia.

The survey reveals that the most coveted candidates are those working in digital, science and research, and media followed closely by those in education, administration and IT. Overall, engineers reported to receiving relatively less offers.

“It’s not easy to win over top talent, especially in high-demand fields such as digital, IT and tech. A strong offer is not enough. 30% of candidates in Saudi Arabia would refuse a good offer if they had a negative experience during recruitment. Most talents imagine their ideal career in a stable job with good work-life balance and time for family, friends and hobbies. However, a main deal breaker when looking for a job is still financial compensation,” said Dr. Christopher Daniel, Managing Director and Senior Partner, BCG Middle East.

What Candidates Want

Most respondents (66%) to the survey said that they desire, above all, a stable job with a good work-life balance. This preference is dominant across job roles, industry, and age groups. Career Progress at a good company comes second (57%), and working on exciting products, topics, and technologies ranks third (23%). Hybrid work is still popular, with 28% of respondents favoring that model—but that result represents an unexpected decline in preference from BCG’s autumn 2020 survey, in which 36% of KSA respondents said they would work remotely for an employer with no physical presence in their country. Today, the majority of respondents in KSA (63%) cited full-time office presence as their work model of preference.

Deal Breakers

People may dream of a steady job with a good work-life balance for the long term, but across Saudi Arabia, candidates who are weighing a concrete job offer make the appreciation for their work the highest priority, and they identify inadequate salaries and bonuses as one of the biggest deal breakers, at par with collaborative working styles, and the amount of paid time off. Next in line are family support, job security, company values, challenging work assignments, relationship with the superior, additional benefits.

The survey also looked at respondents by age group. Collaborative working style and work-life balance are generally the two top priorities regardless of cohort, but deal breakers change significantly with age:

  • Members of the young generation of workers care deeply about the relationship with their superior, and meaningful work.
  • Workers who are 30 to 50 years old prioritize appreciation for their work, and retirement and insurance benefits.
  • Among respondents age above 50 to 60, family support solutions and amount of paid time off rank relatively high.

Myth Busters

The survey’s findings include the revelation that some myths about recruiting are just that—myths. For instance, 30% of respondents would refuse an otherwise attractive job offer if they either experienced an unprofessional selection processor had a strong negative experience during the recruiting stage, and 53% said that a smooth, timely process is the number one way for an employer to stand out during recruitment. Both of these results debunk the myth that if the offer is attractive, the recruitment process doesn’t matter.

Additionally, 75% of jobseekers still want to work the traditional five-day workweek, proving false the notion that traditional day jobs are increasingly becoming obsolete, to be replaced by part-time solutions, gigs, and side projects. And while the digital HR market is booming, most respondents (60%) still prefer in-person application and selection channels, though 30% of candidates feel comfortable with AI-led interviews or preparing an introduction video of themselves.

What Employers Can Do

In the authors’ experience, employers can take a number of effective steps to maximize their attractiveness to desirable job candidates. The study provides in-depth details around six key actions to consider when recruiting:

  1. Segment your approach to appeal to different target personas.
  2. Reimagine recruitment as a personal journey.
  3. Overcome your biases to increase your talent pool.
  4. Wield digital tools impactfully but selectively.
  5. Get culture fundamentals right.
  6. Re-recruit your internal talent.

“If the past years have taught us anything, is that there is a greater demand for work-life integration. People do not live to work anymore; they work to live. Therefore, employers need to ensure that corporate culture is up to the expectations of modern jobseekers. Increased salary and higher seniority may be enough to attract candidates – but retainment will have greater chances at fostering loyalty should work-life balance and flexibility be enhanced. This may include being able to work from home, having a supportive manager, and having access to family support services,” concluded Daniel.

Download the study here.


About Boston Consulting Group

Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to tackle their most important challenges and capture their greatest opportunities. BCG was the pioneer in business strategy when it was founded in 1963. Today, we work closely with clients to embrace a transformational approach aimed at benefiting all stakeholders—empowering organizations to grow, build sustainable competitive advantage, and drive positive societal impact.

Our diverse, global teams bring deep industry and functional expertise and a range of perspectives that question the status quo and spark change. BCG delivers solutions through leading-edge management consulting, technology and design, and corporate and digital ventures. We work in a uniquely collaborative model across the firm and throughout all levels of the client organization, fueled by the goal of helping our clients thrive and enabling them to make the world a better place.

About The Network

The Network is a global alliance of more than 60 leading recruitment websites, committed to finding the best talent in over 140 countries. Founded in 2002, The Network has become the global leader in online recruitment, serving more than 2,000 global corporations. We offer these corporations a single point of contact in their home countries and allow them to work in a single currency and with a single contract— while giving them access to a global workforce. The recruitment websites in The Network attract almost 200 million unique visitors each month. For more information, please visit www.the-network.com.