7 in-demand startup skills in MENA in 2019

Recruitment is considered one of the biggest challenges startup founders are facing in MENA (the Middle East and North Africa) - many complain that the region lacks talent, others complain that it is hard to provide stability to talent in corporates and some believe that startups encourage brain drain by investing their recruiting budget in relocation plans for foreign workers.

The proliferation of data has also left some candidates miserable. Despite the hundreds of new personal development programs on coding, data analysis, growth marketing and more sprouting up, job seekers are left discouraged without knowing where to start.

Whether you’re looking for a job at a startup or you are an entrepreneur in desperate need for qualified talent, we have compiled the top 7 in-demand MENA startup skills of 2019.


1. Sales

2. Marketing automation

3. Growth hacking

4. Technical

5. Data analysis

6. Hustle

7. Creativity


1. Sales

It is not surprising that sales remains a highly demanded skill when working for a startup. No matter what industry you’re specializing in, the one metric that matters is (almost) always revenue.

As a candidate you’re selling from the moment you do your job interview: you sell your competencies and past success to convince the founder to hire you. The ability to persuade customers to purchase your product is a key skill required by employers. But being a good sales rep is not just about closing the deal - it requires good time management, communication and demonstration skills like active listening, effective prospecting skills and in-depth product knowledge.

Employers often find it difficult to hire qualified sales talent because it takes rigorous work to be able to understand the nuances of selling a product that might not be yet fully defined, let alone sell the product.

This is where you need to develop adjustability in researching the features of a product that might not yet be developed as well as be visionary in the way of unlocking the full potential of what the product will be able to do in the future for its audience.

Vacker, an Air Engineering & Management Solutions startup, is looking for a rockstar Sales Manager based in their Dubai office. Time to show off your selling skills, apply now!


2. Marketing automation

Marketing automation is the method of using software to automate marketing actions. It optimizes a marketer’s work by automating repetitive tasks, such as emails, social media and reduces the company’s costs by limiting new hires.

Employers view marketing automation as a true opportunity for organizational growth. It can streamline workflows as well as free up an employee’s executional agenda so they can focus more on strategy. For example, marketing automation helps sales reps focus on selling instead of sending client follow-up emails.

To excel in marketing automation, you need to develop knowledge in programming, analytical thinking and have an eye for bad processes in a business and optimizing them.

This skill is particularly appealing to startup founders as they often find themselves bootstrapping and always on the lookout for ways to optimize time and spend. As a savvy technologist, the Marketing Automation specialist will help support the business goals as well as develop market strategies.

We’ve saved an exciting job for you in this field! Smart Crowd is the Middle East’s first digital investment platform and they are looking for a Dubai based Digital Marketing Manager to support their marketing efforts. Use your knowledge of automation to shine against the crowd! Apply here.


3. Growth hacking

Because the essence of being an early-stage startup is to have little budget and brand equity, employers always look at ways of growing organically. They may receive a ton of applications from candidates with traditional marketing and social media backgrounds but they don’t look into them, reason being they lack growth skills.

As the name indicates the growth hacker should solely focus on growing the business. Unlike the marketer who has a 360-view of the business, the growth hacker is only working towards growth, whether that means increasing growth rate or market adoption of a product or service. Growth also happens to be always be a startup’s primary goal.

To accomplish its core mission, the growth marketer needs to be able to demonstrate deep analytical and technical skills, including programming and coding, SEO and copywriting.

Common soft skills that make a great growth hacker are the grit, the motivation and the hustle to accomplish great results out of very limited resources.

Odiggo is looking for a motivated Growth Hacker based in their Egypt office. Apply here!


4. Technical

Being technical no longer applies to developers, especially if you are seeking a job in a tech startup. No matter what career path you are considering, product, sales or marketing, you too need to brush up on technical skills to get an employer’s attention.

Multitasking is essentially the way startups operate. Since most startups are not financially able to fill all the positions, they are looking for employees who are able to wear multiple hats and this must be reflected not only in their attitude but in their skill set.

Among the technical skills anyone should be working on are HTML and Photoshop. No matter what your role, you always end up seeking for some sort of support from your engineering team who may already be overwhelmed.

Here is the time for you to shine during the interview! Proving that you have technical skills that can save time and hiring costs to an employer will get you on top of the list in no time.

Are you looking to work for Egypt's most innovative startup? Tripdizer has recently received funding and they are looking for a passionate Senior Full Stack Developer. Apply now


7. Data analysis

With the launch of countless online analytics tools and platforms, data is supposed to be accessible to almost anyone now. Well, not really.  Marketers often find themselves lost with the amount of data they can have access to. Accessibility to data quickly became a poisonous gift with marketers not being able to draw any conclusions on their target audience and the success of their experiments.

Startup founders understand the value of data in making important business decisions but they recognize a shortage of people who know what to measure and how to interpret the results.

Data driven roles will rise to 2.7 million by 2020 according to a study from IBM. So, if you love digging in data and numbers, you are in for a treat!

You need to familiarize yourself with tools like Google Analytics and general statistical concepts.

Saudi VC firm STV is looking for a Data Scientist. Apply today!


6. Hustle

Who said hustling is not a skill?

Startup life is not for soft souls. You need to show perseverance and determination in your day-to-day role. Life in startups does not come with a guide and definitely not with free budget! Therefore it will take time and a lot of effort to start seeing results from your new marketing or sales campaign.

You need to be ready to spend a lot of your time doing things outside of your core skills just because there is no budget to cover the cost of hiring or executing the activity in question. One key aspect of being a hustler is problem solving: you need to be able to identify several clever ways to overcome a problem with limited resources.

You will quickly realize is how everyone in your startup shares this very same passionate mindset and it will drive you to accomplish greater things.

So, if you are one to sit and wait for participation trophy, you need to look somewhere else!


7. Creativity

Most people confuse creativity with artistry. They think of artists, graphic designers, painters etc.

But being creative is not just it. It is your ability to solve problems in original ways. Employers are looking more and more for creative candidates because as the world evolves they are facing new challenges that need special attention.

Also with AI (Artificial Intelligence) becoming a bigger part of our world, more jobs are becoming obsolete. Companies will prefer to pay for robots to accomplish more and cheaper than humans. This is exactly why you need to prove how you can think of newer and better solutions.

Thinking outside of the box can’t be something robots can do, yet. As a job seeker you need to capitalize on creative solutions and stop settling for what was done in the past.

You are now equipped with the top 7 highly demanded skills employers want for their startups. Time to brush up these skills and apply to jobs from the best MENA startups.  

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