Dubai: A recent survey 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 have just met or are about to meet.
More than 70 per cent of polled professionals said they changed their mind about a candidate based on their online presence.
The Bayt.com Personal Branding in the Middle East and North Africa poll was conducted recently by Bayt.com, a job site.
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 the UAE, the KSA, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.
More than half of the poll's respondents (54.3 per cent) said they were aware about the concept of personal branding, with 81.9 per cent claiming to run a search for themselves online on search engines like Google, (with 46.5 per cent stating they 'always' look up themselves on the internet, while 46.2 per cent '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 per cent of responding companies 'always' research new hires online before actually hiring them, with a fifth (19.8 per cent) maintaining they '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.
The majority of respondents (68.9 per cent) felt that current social networks allow them to convey their key strengths at a professional level, though three quarters (74.6 per cent) are concerned that sharing information online poses a threat to their privacy.
A major segment of respondents (37.6 per cent) also claimed 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 per cent).
Despite this, an overwhelming majority (92 per cent) 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 per cent), and connect to their target audience (21.1 per cent).
Being able to distinguish themselves from others in their field (14.7 per cent) and becoming an expert or thought leader (13.2 per cent) are also important.