Dubai, UAE- Recruiters are the most infuriating and unreliable people in the UAE to deal with professionally, beating telemarketers and credit card firms in a race to the bottom, a new report from Insight Discovery (ID) shows.

More than half (52%) UAE residents picked recruiters when asked about industries delivering the worst customer service, followed by telemarketers or call centre operatives at 33% and credit card issuers at 31%, according to ID’s ‘2023 Worst Reputation’ survey, their fifth annual study, which aims to highlight opportunities for companies to improve public perceptions and win new business.  

Recruitment firms have now had the dubious honour of topping ID’s ranking for three years in a row, with internal recruiters (20%) and executive search firms (11%) contributing to dissatisfaction with the industry. Real estate agents fared little better at 25%, where they were joined for the first time by a new category: social media influencers.

Elsewhere, independent financial advisers (IFAs) vied with bank-employed advisers at 17%, marking a relative improvement for IFAs, who scored worse than their bank peers in previous surveys.

Nigel Sillitoe, CEO of Insight Discovery, said: “It’s disappointing to see recruiters called out yet again for having the lowest professional reputation in the country. This matters because demand for talent is growing exponentially as more and more companies set up or expand in the UAE. Hiring managers and job seekers need efficient, trustworthy recruiters, and we all need them to succeed to keep the economy moving forwards.”

“For those good recruiters out there, this is their time to shine and to gain advantage over those that are causing so much dissatisfaction. Simple steps, like being responsive and giving clear guidance to individuals who are looking for a new job, can make a big reputational difference quite quickly.”

For this year’s study, ID allowed survey participants to select multiple industry sectors. Western expats seem to be the most dissatisfied, ticking more boxes than any other group. Arab expats, on the other hand, reported themselves to be the least dissatisfied, closely followed by UAE Nationals. When looking at the data in age brackets, people aged 25-44 were the most dissatisfied with recruiters, while those 18-24 and those over 45 were most dissatisfied with telemarketers and call centre operatives.

Commenting on the arrival of social media influencers in the ‘‘Worst Reputation’ study, Sillitoe said: “I’m not surprised to see a quarter of UAE residents citing social media influencers as having the worst reputation. It isn’t always clear when influencers are being paid to promote products and this lack of transparency leads to a lack of trust. We should be especially concerned about the rise of so-called ‘finfluencers’ who post about financial products and who give financial advice. Often these influencers post about unregulated schemes, including cryptocurrency schemes, which can be highly risky or even outright illegal.”

“For IFA firms the results from this year’s study will be encouraging,” Sillitoe added. “With so many new advisory firms setting up in the UAE, particularly in the DIFC and ADGM, our survey is well timed. As for why their reputation has improved it’s probably due to a number of factors, including greater transparency and tighter regulations”


About the UAE Worst Reputation Study

Insight Discovery’s survey was completed during February 2023. Over 1,000 UAE residents completed the survey, representing a mix of nationalities, income bands, ages and genders. Because this year’s survey allowed multiple sectors to be selected, any comparison to previous years is based on rank order rather than response totals. As multiple responses were allowed the sum of the percentage scores across the industry categories exceeds 100%. New categories added for 2023 were social media influencers, internal recruiters and executive search firms.

About Insight Discovery

Insight Discovery is a multiple award-winning consultancy that specialises in market intelligence strategic communications and personal branding. We provide solutions and support to major conglomerates, government agencies and many of the world’s largest and best-known financial institutions.

For seven years running, Insight Discovery has been voted ‘Best Consultancy Firm in the Middle East’ by Global Investor, part of Euromoney.

For media enquiries please contact:
Nigel Sillitoe
CEO and Founder
Insight Discovery