Employment Offers Crisis in Egypt

With the rise and spread of the internet, job seekers now do most of the job searching online through employment websites, connections via social media and occasionally through their friends.

While researching job opportunities in my field and in others, I’ve come across some significantly strange postings, particularly in terms of number of years required and the salaries.

I’ll begin with the salaries, which are probably the first thing a job seeker looks at during the search and is most often disappointed to see the word “negotiable”.

While “negotiable” gives a breather for job seekers, it often makes them more confused because they are unaware of the salary range the employer has set. It is only fair that a job seeker wishes to get the highest salary possible from a job opportunity, whereas the employer seeks to give the lowest salary within their range.

As the term “negotiable” becomes dominant in many job postings, seekers and applicants often write “negotiable” in their expected salary as well.

The problem with salaries in Egypt is that employers seek to minimize their costs without actually saying so. Another problem is that a discussion of salaries is often considered a taboo. You cannot talk to your colleagues about your salary lest they get higher – and you feel you are underpaid – or they make less than you do, and therefore they discover that they are the ones who are underpaid. Of course, having different ranks and tasks within an organization is often overlooked.

The salary discussion during a job interview is when the job seeker begins to blush and stammer because they don’t want to give a big sum and chase away the possible offer, while at the same time they wish to get a raise compared to their salary at their current job.

It is almost impossible to know if you’re getting a good salary unless you have peers who are neither shy nor secretive and don’t mind telling you how much they make per month.

Among the ‘funny’ things I have come across while job searching were the below salary ranges:

  • 0 EGP to 2000 EGP
  • 2000 EGP to 2000 EGP

A snapshot from a real job ad!

While the above points are funny, HR personnel should be aware that this reflects negatively on their company. It shows that whoever put up the job posting was careless and did not bother to review his/her own work. Most professionals would shy away from such companies and avoid applying there.

I must note that I absolutely respect companies, big or small, that post their salary range on the internet. I realize that while salaries are a competitive aspect among firms, it the range gives job seekers an idea of what to expect.

In other words, if a salary range is 3,000 EGP to 4,000 EGP and you ask for the full 4,000 EGP, they can’t say that’s too high. Similarly, they have specified their maximum; so, if you go in and ask for 5,000 EGP then they are entitled to tell you that this figure is too high or at least above their budget. Asking for a figure that is higher than a posted range shows that the job seeker did not read everything in the job posting.

This brings me to my next point: Experience versus Salary. Some employers – well actually many – often put up a salary range that is far below their job requirements. For example, when you ask for someone with 3-5 years of experience and offer them a salary range of “1,800 EGP to 2,000 EGP per month”, a job seeker can’t do much but roll their eyes and move on. This is obviously a posting for someone who has passed the junior level, but the company doesn’t want to say so. It wants skills but wants to pay a junior’s salary.

Job seekers often find this variation in requirements, where a company wants to hire someone with experience but has little to offer in return.

Some companies even put up a strange combination of experience requirements like: “0-3 years” of experience. I find this rather strange, simply because a person with 0 years of experience could be a fresh graduate or someone switching careers, whereas someone with 3 years of experience is on their way to becoming a senior.

So how can they ask for 0-3 years of experience?

In this case, I would recommend that companies put up two postings: one for 0-1 years and one for 2-3 years. If they only have one open position, then they have to be specific. Do they want someone without any experience or someone with say at least 1 year of experience?

Also, with regards to the above example – and it’s not a fictional one – how can the company put a salary range for such a long period? A person without experience cannot be close in salary to the one with 3 years of it. It’s just not logical.

The same applies to another posting I came across looking for experience from 1-5 years.

The bottom line is: the HR person or whoever is putting up a job posting online to attract potential job seekers needs to be both careful and specific in their requirements and offerings. Just because they are an employer does not entitle them to think that ‘job seekers would be thrilled to work for us because we’re giving them an opportunity’ and bring down their benefits, especially the salary.

Note: Fresh graduates are excluded from several points in this article.

By: Nada Adel Sobhi – Editor in Chief – HR Revolution

PHOTOGRAPHY: Mahmoud Mansi