Iran is a mystery for many: what’s the economy like in the Islamic Republic? Have sanctions impacted online marketplaces in the country? How mature is Iran’s classified advertising ecosystem? Aseyeh Hatami, the founder and CEO of IranTalent, shared 20 minutes of insight at the AIM Group’s RecPlus conference in Barcelona today

Aseyeh Hatami

Iran is not a small market, Hatami (LinkedIn profile) pointed out: the population is 82 million and there is high Internet penetration. Moreover, there are nearly a million and a half graduates from university a year (more than half of them women) from some 2,500 universities and colleges.

Those graduates have to contend, however, with an unstable economy, runaway inflation, skyrocketing employment and well-publicized barriers to trade with the west.

The current situation is nothing short of “a disaster,” Hatami told the AIM Group’s RecPlus conference in Barcelona.

Following a 2018 financial crisis in Iran, IranTalent ran an informal survey among its employer clients. Hatami found that 39 percent were engaging in “cost control,” 24 percent were struggling to find new markets, and 3 percent had stopped all new development. And while 46 percent said they were still hiring, 37 percent had frozen recruitment and 17 percent were downsizing,

Hatami’s company has ridden the economic rollercoaster. She launched IranTalent in 2003 as a traditional recruitment agency and transformed it into the country’s first job board a few years later, focusing on mid-to-senior level candidates and as a way for Iranian candidates to find jobs outside the country. It finally pivoted to address small to medium enterprises, which is where the company remains.

The result: cash flow is stable and revenues are rising. IranTalent has added more features: virtual job fairs (“the effect was amazing,” Hatami said), the ability for employers to conduct video interviews, and the introduction of a smart salary tool letting job-seekers get an idea of their value in the market as well as helping employers control their costs.

With no end in sight to the inflation and unemployment that’s plaguing Iran, we won’t be surprised if Hatami and IranTalent pivot again.

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