Unemployment is discussed as small talk in every other conversation. Qualified individuals are hopelessly searching for jobs or stuck in positions they see no future in. Recruitment processes are plagued with all sorts of "WTF moments," and of course, wasta (nepotism) is as powerful as ever. Yup, the Lebanese employment scene is pretty much a nightmare.
We're not here to talk about the economic crisis nor the reasons behind the worrisome unemployment rate in Lebanon, but rather the alarming habits prevalent among many Lebanese employers.
Employers and HR specialists, take note. Here are some major issues troubling recruitment and employment in Lebanon:
1. Forget education and experience, good looks will go a long way
You're probably thinking, "It's normal for good looks to be required for some jobs, like modeling or appearing on television." Well, that's fine, relatively, if we put aside arguments in favor of body positivity and against society's obsession with appearance.
While browsing job offers in the country, "good-looking" seems to be among the first requirements, if not the only one, for jobs where appearance should not be correlated with performance. Plus, companies don't settle for "presentable" as a condition, but rather flat-out ask for attractive candidates - and we all know that exclusively means those who adhere to typical beauty standards.
2. Oh no, how dare you seek a job while married?!
Gender discrimination among candidates is common practice amid local employers, even when there is no genuine occupational requirement that justifies restricting candidates to a certain gender. But, it gets even worse.
Can you imagine being turned down from a potential position simply because you happened to be - heaven forbid - married? Unfortunately, that's a possible scenario in Lebanon.
Some employers seem to prefer "single" candidates and have the audacity to include it as a job requirement, particularly when seeking female candidates.
3. Hijabis are often denied jobs
Around half the Lebanese population is Muslim, yet many companies in the country openly boast no-hijab policies.
While being denied jobs for wearing the hijab can make headlines in the West, the issue is rather commonplace in Lebanon, as anecdotal evidence reveals many employers refuse hijab-wearing candidates regardless of their qualifications.
4. Unpaid internships are still a thing
Employers continue to exploit students and fresh graduates, offering them internships that may last for several months. Highly qualified interns complete tasks just like other employees, all under the guise of "gaining experience," with some employers not even bothering to cover transportation fees.
This is also the case in successful companies and, rather ironically, even in human rights organizations.
5. Requirements are beyond ridiculous, and even more so are the offers
We've already established that job requirements set forth by many companies are as laughable as they are alarming. And it's not just the absurd requirements pertaining to one's looks or relationship status, but also the eyebrow-raising education and experience qualifications, especially in comparison with salary offers.
You encounter employers asking for multiple years of experience, while offering entry-level salaries that barely cover work-related expenses (food and transportation). Sadly enough, many Lebanese struggling to make ends meet are forced to settle for such positions, fearing they might lose the opportunities if they ask for better terms.
6. Recruiters don't seem to show candidates much respect
From failing to respond to applications, to ghosting candidates after interviews, and even ignoring requests for feedback, some recruiters don't seem to display sympathy for job-seekers.
But, to be fair, there is also a lack of professionalism among some job-seekers, due to the lack of awareness on job search etiquette.