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Bans on Google ads and receiving money from abroad, and needing a license for everything are not the usual challenges recruiters face. In her presentation at the RecPlus Conference in Barcelona, Aseyeh Hatami (LinkedIn profile), CEO of IranTalent, will reveal how her business has thrived despite a tough economic crisis.

In your opinion, what are the major challenges facing the recruitment (classified) industry in the next three years?

The challenges in the recruitment industry are different in different areas, markets and countries. In areas where there is high supply and low demand (such as sales, accounting and general positions in Iran), the quality of recruitment channels and products are a major concern. Job boards in such areas should, therefore, focus on AI and developing screening and assessment algorithms, so employers can spend less time and find the best match — not only in terms of CV quality but also competency and value match. Delivering quality products requires scale, which not all players will have — both to fund the required R&D and to have sufficient data to develop models.

In the areas where there is high demand and lower supply of candidates, or where not enough candidates apply for job opportunities (like web developers and senior management positions in Iran) the challenge is attracting more potential candidates even if they are not in our focused territory, and also developing headhunting AI tools on CV database search.

What will most surprise conference attendees in your presentation at RecPlus?

Maybe, in the beginning, the first-hand information and data I share about Iran in the following areas will surprise the audience. The first area is women. There are more female graduates than male and a perception that leadership must be male (for example, people are surprised that I am the founder and CEO).

The second area is normal life. Many people think Iran is in a war, it is unsafe, people are dying, etc. Any indication of normal life in Iran could be a surprise for some people.

Next, entrepreneurship, passion for learning and development, technology and digital life, strong feelings and caring, and a luxury mindset are part of real, day-to-day life in Iran.

And finally, the severity of the economic crisis. The currency is losing 10 percent of its value from morning till evening, and the price of mobile phones is rising by the hour. In autumn, the currency value was one third within a month and 10-20 percent of private sector employees lost their jobs.

After all of that, I am going to surprise the attendees with how we can find growth opportunities in the middle of a crisis, by telling my story of how I found the path when the country was in the middle of an economic crisis and there was a terribly unstable market and on days when companies were closing down one by one. Finally when the crisis passed, not only was the business alive but it had also found other ways for growth.

What unique challenges does your business face in your market?

In different years, the challenges have been different. It started with typical start-up challenges, introducing a new way of doing something — when people did not have CVs and companies did not have professional recruitment processes.

It continued with bureaucracy problems, trying to get an activity license for a business model that was unknown to the country — note that here you need a license for every single activity you do.

Then there are restrictions on the use of global tech platforms and services — for example, we cannot run ads on Google and limit the territory for our country since Google has removed Iran from the list of countries for Google ads! Many digital services, hosts and servers have blocked Iran. There are also restrictions on the transfer of funds — we cannot receive money from our international clients.

And nowadays, there is a severe economic crisis.

How is digitalization further going to reshape your business?

We are developing tools for our users to conduct their recruitment activities and cover their business needs in digital forms. These include virtual career fairs, on-campus recruitment (jobs plus internships) and video interviews.

I can also mention tools to connect businesses to universities, for joint projects, technology development and employer branding; tools to convert market data to valuable information and trends for businesses; and tools to ease candidate assessment and job matching.