The Bayt.com Personal Branding in the Middle East and North Africa poll, conducted recently by Bayt.com, the region's number one job site, has shown that managing one's online presence and creating a powerful personal brand is more important than ever, with nine out of 10 respondents turning to the internet to search for people they've just met or are about to meet, and 70.5% of polled professionals saying they have changed their mind about a candidate based on their online presence.
More than half of the poll's respondents (54.3%) say they are aware of the concept of personal branding, with 81.9% claiming to search for themselves online on search engines like Google (with 46.5% stating they 'always' look themselves up on the internet, while 46.2% 'always' turn to online search engines to find out more about those they have met, or are about to meet.
At the same time, 41.5% of responding companies 'always' research new hires online before hiring, with a fifth maintaining they (19.8%) 'sometimes' do so. "The large number of companies that research candidates makes it more essential than ever for a candidate to have a professional and appealing online presence on a leading professional careers platform with significant regional inroads in order to secure a job," said Suhail Masri, VP of Sales, Bayt.com. ". In fact, even something as simple as a photograph could influence decision-makers, with eight in 10 (79.6%) respondents of the belief that their online photo effects how they are perceived."
The majority of respondents (68.9%) feel that current social networks allow them to convey their key strengths at a professional level, though three quarters (74.6%) are concerned that sharing information online poses a threat to their privacy. The majority of respondents (37.6%) also claim that privacy is one of the biggest issues when it comes to managing their personal brand, followed by the challenge of not knowing where to start with formulating a professional personal brand (21.1%). Despite this, the overwhelming majority (92%) of respondents think that personal online branding increases their career opportunities, with the most important benefits being the ability to showcase their abilities (23.2%), and connect to their target audience (21.1%). Being able to distinguish themselves from others in their field (14.7%) and becoming an expert or thought leader (13.2%) are also important.
When asked whether they would like to showcase their key skills and expertise in a more creative way, 97% of respondents said yes. More than half (51.1%) believe that their own CEO's personal branding skills are 'excellent', with a further 20.2% stating that they are 'above average', suggesting that those higher up the corporate ladder have already established the best ways to promote their image and are already reaping the results and benefits of professional online branding.
"The time has never been more apt for people in the MENA region to start shaping and monitoring their online presence," continues Masri. "Developing a strong online personal brand as the poll shows, is essential not only for job seekers, but also for ambitious professionals at all career levels and in all industries looking to move up the corporate ranks and connect with peers, employers and clients. At Bayt.com, we have been serving the region for over 13 years, empowering professionals and employers in the MENA with the tools and information to build their lifestyle of choice. Our mission of empowerment combined with our knowledge of the importance of branding has resulted in the recently launched Bayt.com Specialties platform, which allows people to harness the power of the internet to create empowering sophisticated and customized online professional profile. The best part is that the Bayt.com platform is designed with two principal tenets in mind: to enable professionals to control their privacy as per their comfort level as well to empower them to truly shine by demonstrating their abilities, connecting to their target professional audience and establishing themselves as experts in their chosen fields. Bayt.com Specialties provides the ideal platform for professionals wishing to establish a professional online brand at no cost and with maximum visibility, utility and flexibility."
Data for the Bayt.com Personal Branding in the Middle East and North Africa poll was collected online from August 16 to September 19 2013, with 8,154 respondents from UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.