x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Hotels in Dubai employ avatars in hiring

The Life: Online recruitment is picking up pace among hotels in the Emirates, with new tools that let candidates become avatars.

Rupprecht Queitsch, the general manager at JW Marriott Marquis, says he wants to hire people based on their personalities. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Rupprecht Queitsch, the general manager at JW Marriott Marquis, says he wants to hire people based on their personalities. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Online avatars are no longer reserved solely for videogaming enthusiasts.

Job seekers can now choose avatars or images based on their personality traits on a Web-based portal through JW Marriott Marquis hotels. It will lead to specific questions about a candidate's character, and match their responses with available jobs. This feature, and the chance for candidates to share access and apply for jobs on social networking sites, will be part of a tool the hotel chain plans to unveil by September.

Rupprecht Queitsch, the general manager at the JW Marriott Marquis hotel in Dubai, says he wants to hire people based on their personalities and would like to see candidates from diverse backgrounds - whether bankers, taxi drivers or postmen - with the hospitality attitude.

"We want to hire people who have not worked at hotels before," says Mr Queitsch. "Because teaching serving, cooking or checking-in people is not rocket science, it is the service attitude that matters."

Online recruitment is picking up in the region as companies here look to save costs, identify the right people, and speed up the hiring process. But the regional corporate world has yet to tap various online tools as much as other parts of the world.

"Many companies do not … invest the necessary resources for [recruitment] to become a successful part of the business," says Guy Rickett, the chief executive of Hiring Solutions, a Dubai software developer specialising in e-recruitment.

At present, fewer than 5 per cent of businesses in the Gulf use online recruitment effectively, he says. "Many companies will have a Web page with vacancies or use job boards to recruit, but those things by themselves are not effective."

The cost and time taken to hire as well as the quality of hiring are the three major areas that companies are concerned about when they recruit. In the Gulf, for instance, it can take at least two months before a new employee comes on board, as many of them come from abroad. "Organisations that have an online recruitment strategy can recruit in less than half the time [compared with those who do not use online tools]," says Mr Rickett.

In short, a dedicated career site turns the company into an autonomous recruiter.

"Going through agencies can get very expensive, and they do not guarantee a high quality of hire," says Mr Rickett.

Such a job site also furthers a company's brand marketing, and allows it to collect and save data.

For instance, the JW Marriott Marquis Web portal will also allow hotel reservations and help in marketing the brand. The second JW Marriott Marquis hotel in the UAE will open in October in Dubai in the world's tallest hotel-only building.

The Dubai luxury hospitality company Jumeirah Group, which is a client of Hiring Solutions, launched its e-recruitment system in 2003.

"In just the first six months, we saved over US$160,000 [Dh587,696] in recruitment costs and got approximately 10,000 professionals registered on our database for future opportunities," Janelle King, who was the group director for recruitment at Jumeirah, said in 2004.

Automation in screening CVs also enhances a candidate's application experience.

With a company job portal, individuals are better able to ask specific and intelligent questions of the employer. "Recruiters have instant access to post a position … and do not have to wait on an agency for assistance," said Andrea Fennessy, the director of human resources at Fairmont The Palm, which is to open in September.

The high employee turnover in the hotel industry and the flow of international skill sets into the UAE are among the reasons behind the idea.

The JW Marriott Marquis Web portal can also help the internal movement of its staff.

"You want to explore, in our industry that's good," says Mr Queitsch. "As long as [employees] stay within the company that's better."

The luxury hotel group will hold a job fair next week for 1,150 positions. For this, it will follow a time-tested method: along rows of tables in a large hall, officials expect to meet hundreds of candidates as part of an initial screening. Quick questions are designed to reveal a candidate's attitude to work and people.

"The main driver is the personality," says Mr Queitsch.

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