Practical Tips for Hiring Top Talent in KSA

Updated: Aug 30

AstroLabs has been working with leading companies, both in KSA and UAE, including Careem, Virgin Mobile, TikTok, Seera, Mamo Pay, and many more, to build a strong talent bench for them. In our endeavor to build the best teams for our clients across a wide range of positions—General Manager, Sales, Marketing, Engineering, Operations, Accounts Manager—we’ve gathered considerable experience in understanding the requirements, rules, and challenges companies can encounter when hiring talent in the Kingdom.


This experience has led us to develop efficient recruitment processes for ourselves and our clients and also discover some of the best tips and practices for hiring in KSA. In Episode 3 of our Saudi Market Entry Series, AstroLabs’ Head of Talent, Danielle Blizzard, along with Alex Nicholls, Business Development Lead at AstroLabs, discuss some of these practical tips with our audience to help them find and hire the top talent in the Kingdom.


The episode also covered AstroLabs Talent, Nitaqat System or Saudization, Salary Survey 2021 conducted by AstroLabs, in addition to the 5 most important tips for companies when hiring talent in KSA.


Here’s the recap of that episode.


Introducing AstroLabs Talent

AstroLabs Talent teams are spread across UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon, consisting of English and Arabic speakers allowing us to engage with the right talent. We specialize in recruitment of local talent for our clients based in KSA and UAE as also in acquiring and relocating talent from across the globe including United States, Australia, Russia, India, Europe, etc.

AstroLabs implements and manages end-to-end recruitment process for our clients while working closely with them.


The 4 pillars of our recruitment process consist of:


· Candidate Sourcing

· Selection & Assessment

· Interview Management

· Offer Process



In addition to the recruitment process, we help our clients with their talent strategy and decision-making with regards to deciding whether to hire locally or expats, the difference between the two, and fulfilling the Nitaqat system requirements.


Offering competitive salary packages and benefits can be a significant factor in attracting the right talent to your company. We help you set benchmarks and salary ranges for different positions in your organization based on market research and analysis.


5 Top tips to hire the best talent in KSA

There are the most important factors to consider when hiring the best talent for your company in KSA.


1. Create an effective and efficient hiring process


Having a thorough well thought-out hiring process makes recruiting a smooth and frictionless experience for companies as well as candidates.


What to consider when setting your company’s hiring process for KSA:

· Notice periods vary across Saudi Arabia from anywhere between 1-3 months, therefore being prompt and swift with your recruitment tasks, processes, and decisions will ensure there’s no unnecessary delays or hold ups.

· The best way to set timelines is to work backward – start with when you need the new hire(s) to join your company, time for them to relocate if hiring from outside, time taken for each stage of the recruitment process.

· When setting up the hiring process for your KSA entity, take into account various possible scenarios you can encounter and keep your timelines as realistic as possible to avoid last minute rush causing you to make wrong or hurried decisions.


2. Talent Branding

To attract the best talent to your company, it’s important to brand your company as a place that offers opportunities to create impact and grow professionally, great compensation and benefits, while also being a fun and enjoyable place to work.

Talent branding involves:

· Research – Identify where your talent pools are based on your business needs

· Employer Value Proposition – Deciding the compensation and employee benefits you should offer

· Candidate Experience – Work toward creating and promoting a positive candidate experience when they interact with your brand/company.


3. Sourcing Platforms

Some of the top sourcing platforms we use and recommend to our clients are LinkedIn and Meet-up groups. Being a part of meet-up groups of professionals whether online or offline, and attending meetings, open up channels to access to highly skilled, interactive, and talented people. When hiring for technology roles, coding platforms such as GitHub and Stack Overflow have proven to be quite helpful.


4. Local vs. International Talent

Identify the kind of talent that will best suit the roles you’re hiring for.

Local talent will be beneficial when looking for hiring for Sales and Business development positions seeking customers, partnerships, and collaborations, as they’d be able to put to use their contacts and network.

International talent will have an edge over the local talent especially when it comes to working with high-end innovative technology and domains, allowing them to bring to your company their unique knowledge and skill-sets.

While international talent may be better suited for some roles and they can start making an impact straight away, the chances of them staying with your companies for long may not be too high. The local talent on the other hand, even though some may require training and nurturing, are eager to learn and grow, making their learning curve a steep one.


5. Onboarding

Make your new hires comfortable in your company easing their transition into their new positions. This means constantly checking in with them, either on the ground or virtually, making sure they’re happy and have everything they need to perform to the best of their ability.


Recruitment challenges in KSA

These are some of the top challenges companies in KSA face when hiring.


Irrelevant applications

When hiring in job markets such as UAE and KSA, companies tend to receive hundreds of applications, most of which prove to be irrelevant to the job opening. Screening those many applications can become quite an arduous task for hiring managers.


Excessive reliance on referrals and recommendations

One way to combat the problem of being inundated with unwanted applications is to use referrals and recommendations from your networks. However, relying heavily on referrals can mean you compromise on your company’s ability to find innovative and creative solutions that would’ve been made possible with hiring people from diverse sets of groups. Working with a recruitment partner that has a wide pool of talent will be helpful in countering this issue.


Assessing candidate’s communication skills

Finding candidates with the right communication skills can be a challenge, especially when looking for English-speaking candidates. Plus, companies cannot gauge the communication skills merely through applications. The only ways to know how good a candidate is with English and communication are to either speak with them, conduct language assessment tests, or assign them writing tasks, all of which cost a lot of time when dealing with hundreds of applicants.


Nitaqat System

Nitaqat System is a program launched in 2011 by the Ministry of Labor to help increase the employment rate in Saudi Arabia. According to this system—based on your company activity and company size, your company has to hire a certain percentage of Saudi nationals. Hitting that percentage mark is important to qualify your company for different services offered by the Ministry of Labor).


The following are the Nitaqat ranges along with their meaning.




Here’s a comparison of the Platinum and Red range companies in terms of availing the services from Ministry of Labor.


Once in the Red range, a company has 26 weeks to fulfil the Nitaqat requirements. The officials check your data on a weekly basis indicating how strict the Kingdom is about companies honoring this policy.

Companies with less than 5 employees fall in the red or green range by default. If you have an expat General Manager, renewing their Visa after a year won’t be permitted until you have a Saudi national in your books, as your company would otherwise stay in the red range.


Forward Career Accelerator

Saudi has more than 50% of its population under the age of 25. Most of the youth are freshly out of college, tech-focused, and keen on working with international companies. Based on AstroLabs’ experience and that of our clients, the Saudi youth are willing to learn and get upskilled and companies having realized this are offering them the right kind of opportunities to join the nation’s workforce.


The Forward Career Accelerator is the third initiative by Forward KSA—a digital skills capability development initiative in Saudi Arabia spearheaded by AstroLabs since 2019. This program is designed for early career KSA nationals with 0-4 years of work experience.


A successful applicant for this program will have:

· An impressive academic track record

· Fluency in written and spoken English - they will take an English and digital skills assessment

· A passion for learning and self-improvement


We offer the accepted candidates free access to AstroLabs Academy—a library of professional courses in digital marketing, coding, data skills, and more, to upskill themselves.

This program has helped us create a carefully curated and trained pool of young talent from across Saudi Arabia. We have helped our clients hire from this pool and received some incredible feedback from them about the work and contributions of the local talent on their teams.


AstroLabs Talent KSA Salary Survey 2021

Our team has been working for one of our clients to conduct a salary survey for the KSA market and we’re excited to share it with you. This data will help companies looking to expand into the Kingdom design their compensation and salary packages for different roles.


Through the survey, we found some domains to be in high demand such as Data and Analytics, Digital Marketing, and Cyber Security.

You can see the salary ranges here are quite wide considering the variation in industries, company sizes, and so on. If you’d like the survey to be more specific to your company/industry, the AstroLabs Talent team can conduct a more targeted survey to suit your needs.

We hope this recap answered some of the top questions you may have had concerning recruitment of top talent in KSA. If you’d like to know more about AstroLabs Talent or would like to chat with us, write to us at talent@astrolabs.com and we’d be happy to answer your queries.

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