There’s a traditional way of headhunting in hospitality. You start by trawling LinkedIn, and sending out hosts of private messages. Or perhaps, you hire a head hunter to pin down a shortlist of candidates.

Alternatively, you could take a page out of Emaar Hospitality Group’s book and turn the entire model on its head — by having the world’s best talent come knocking on your door.

How? By holding a well-publicised talent hunt that sends out a call to all bright young twenty-something-year-olds around the world interested in working with a blue-chip company and accelerating to a senior-level position. That’s exactly what Emaar is doing.

The company has kicked off “The World’s Greatest Hospitality Talent” hunt, and has sent out an open invitation to anyone with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 26 to participate. Think ‘The Apprentice’, but without the cameras or contrived reality TV set pieces.

Emaar Hospitality is calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to jumpstart your hospitality career”, and that’s about right. The successful candidate will get to relocate to Dubai and study for an expenses-paid degree in Executive MBA from a Grade-A university in the city. That, and an intensive three-year programme, which will result in a senior-level job placement at an Emaar Hospitality Group property. General manager or corporate director before 30 has a nice ring to it.

Of course, the richer the spoils, the tougher the hunt. Emaar has put together a tiered selection process to get the decision right.

The first step is a video application due by end of May 2018. The competition will be fierce, so candidates can’t send in just any moving mug shot. Ideally, the video will be a window into a candidate’s true self and what makes them tick. Explaining what the video submission is meant to accomplish, Emaar Hospitality Group CEO Olivier Harnisch said: “We want to see the real person applying. We’re looking to see their passion for hospitality, the way they articulate their thoughts and how they present themselves. We want to see creativity and someone who can stand out by what they say and how they say. We want to spot potential and give opportunity to someone who will welcome the steep learning curve they will go through starting September 2018.” Candidates be warned – the video interview is being taken seriously. It’s an invitation for young people to tell Emaar what they bring to the table, and what makes them a leader. As Harnisch puts it, “It’s a perfectly standard question but we are looking for extraordinary answers”. From the multitudes applying, eight candidates will be shortlisted on the strength of their video application. Come July 2018, they candidates will be flown to Dubai for what Emaar is calling a casting week.

The chosen few will be pushed through a series of tasks. Each day will bring something new, with business acumen, ability to play well with others, creativity, personality, resilience and capability to innovate all put under the spotlight.

Harnisch offers a preview to help candidates prepare: “The ‘casting week’ will be an exciting series of challenges that tests all the qualities we are looking for in our winning candidate in a trying environment full of unexpected additional problems. The objective is to see a leader emerge from amongst the eight. We will throw everything at them from testing their ability to collaborate, take decisions, innovate and be creative and all in the context of hospitality. A jury will be appointed and experts will be tasked with rating each candidates’ performance.”

At the end, there can be only one. And come September 2018, the winner of ‘The World’s Greatest Talent Hunt’ will embark on a three-year fast-track programme in Dubai. The city has been chosen as the first destination because it delivers proximity to Emaar’s senior teams and corporate office. It’s also where the winner will study for their fully-funded Executive MBA. But once the three years are up, the world is their oyster. It is entirely possible to find a leadership role outside of Dubai, given Emaar expansion into Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and outside the UAE towards Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the Maldives.

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