5 emerging careers to look out for in Lebanon

I’ve been living in Lebanon for around a year and a half now..and during that time, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve met a few people, experienced a few things, and asked a ton of questions. You know, cause I’m curious like that. And after the positive feedback I received from my tips on finding a job in Lebanon, I decided to take it one step further and come up with a list of what I consider to be the top 5 emerging careers in Lebanon.

This is one of my longer post..but still, well worth the read.

So without further ado, here it goes:

#5. Alternative Medicine/Natural Health Practitioner – I’m a firm believer in Alternative Medicine and Natural Health Care. Probably because I come from a family of advocates who place Alternative Medicine/Natural Health Care Practioners above Traditional Doctors. I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical about it at first..we’re talking about naturopathy, herbalism, chinese medicine, Ayurveda, meditation, reiki, biofeedback, hypnosis, homeopathy, acupuncture, and nutritional-based therapies here. But after seeing what Alternative Medicine has done for me, my Mom, and especially my brother (who was born with the unfortunate allergy to both corn and eggs), you could call me a believer! Even the makeup I wear is plant based..but hey, that’s a discussion for another time. Back to the point.

Perhaps the most appealing thing about Alternative Medicine/Natural Health Care, is that it’s rooted in “preventative care” and is more about finding solutions to problems than creating temporary (and oftentimes addictive) fixes. (It’s these temporary fixes that keep Traditional Doctors and Pharmaceutical Companies in business afterall..they aren’t interested in curing anybody).

Now from what I know of Lebanese society, the majority of people are over-reliant on their pharmacist/family doctor, and have spent their lives popping pills for even the slightest problem. In addition to that, many people place great emphasis on looking good..even if they go about achieving it in the wrong way (starving themselves, taking diet pills, plastic surgery..etc etc). That being said, I think that slowly but surely people in Lebanon are becoming more aware of the benefits of leading a natural, healthy lifestyle..and eventually, they will begin seeking out (professionally trained) Alternative Medicine/Natural Health Care practicioners as they become frustrated with the shortcomings of traditional, western medicine.  In conjunction with this, I think that dietitians and nutritionists like Paty M of Paty M’s Nutrition World, will begin to be in a lot higher demand,.. and schools and workplaces may even start to offer courses in nutrition..as healthy students/employees = more productive students/employees (ok maybe this last part is a bit of a pipe dream.)

Alternative Medicine

Acupuncture

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#4. Visual Merchandiser – For a society as obsessed with looks and appearances as Lebanese society, I’m really surprised that local businesses don’t take designing their stores and store fronts more seriously! I’ve seen some pretty bad examples of visual merchandising from very well known brands in Lebanon, and to me..this is just unacceptable! Designing a display window and store that is visually appealing is a HUGE part of owning a business..especially a retail business! Shopping is SUCH a visual experience, hence why visual merchandising is so important.

Wikipedia defines visual merchandising as,  “the activity of promoting the sale of goods, especially by their presentation in retail outlets. This includes combining products, environments, and spaces into a stimulating and engaging display to encourage the sale of a product or service. It has become such an important element in retailing that a team effort involving senior management, architects, merchandising managers, buyers, the visual merchandising director, industrial designers, and staff is needed.”

Visual merchandising

A great example of visual merchandising for retail..

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Visual merchandising

Another fantastic example of visual merchandising in a home store..

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Visual merchandising

Visual merchandising for a Lanvin window display..

Visual merchandising

and..you can't talk about visual merchandising without mentioning Louis Vuitton!

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Many other elements are a part of the visual merchandising process. These include color, lighting, space, product information, sensory inputs (such as smell, touch, and sound), as well as technologies such as digital displays and interactive installations. (source)

Before opening a store, or with the arrival of a new collection business owners/store managers really need to work with their team to map out the customer journey in their store. Visual merchandising, when done correctly, can really impact sales and encourage repeat business.

I know a lot of very talented people in Lebanon who are into fashion, architecture and interior architecture, and design. I really think that visual merchandising could be a very viable career option for these type of creative/artistic people..even if on a freelance or consultancy basis. I mean let’s say you have 5 retail clients who come out with three different collections every year.. that could translate into a lot of work (and $$!). Not to mention how dynamic, interesting, and fun this field must be to work in. When I used to work in retail, it was always the visual merchandisers who inspired the most awe..I really wish I had what it takes to do this job!

#3. Human Resource Manager – In Lebanon, Human Resources consists of  scolding people when they’re late, and sending out a company wide email to let everyone know when someone has a sick/vacation day off. Unless you work for a multi-national company, HR doesn’t really exist..and if it does, the people in the position of HR Manager are not qualified (most of the time).

Human Resours

lol!

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There is no such thing as organizational design and development, employee motivation (key performance indicators), morale building, employee retention efforts, or career planning. (Career planning is the kicker for me. If you can’t show someone how they are going to grow within your organization..or if you don’t reward someone for showing initiative, what reason do they have to remain within your company? NONE!) In my opinion, this is why there is such a high rate of turnover in Lebanese companies -because people (especially young people) just move from company to company for as little as a couple hundred dollars pay increase..when they likely would have stayed had they been given more recognition for a job well done, and perhaps a roadmap of when they could expect to receive their next raise. Offering somebody a raise and a title change after they’ve decided to put in their notice, is just not the right way to do things..yet, I hear stories like this all too often!!

The reason that Lebanese companies have neglected investing in/developing a Human Resource department is likely for the following few reasons:

  • Financial – maybe the company doesn’t have the means necessary to hire a Human Resources professional (or maybe they’re just cheap, and don’t understand the value of an HR Manager). If that is the case, someone within the company needs to take charge of all of the key HR functions to ensure a happy, productive employee base and a low rate of turnover..or they need to outsource their needs to a HR consultancy (if that even exists in Lebanon).
  • Available pool of talent – it’s no secret that Lebanon produces some of the best and brightest and most linguistically gifted. Because of this, many employers would rather let a good employee go in favor of hiring someone willing to do the work for less (like fresh graduates).

Human Resourcessource

If you’ve worked in Lebanon, you’ve either experienced what I’m talking about, or know someone who has. That being said, I think that there will be a major “paradigm shift” in the near future concerning how employers view the role of the Human Resource Manager within their companies..as we’ve come to a point in this global competitive landscape where companies cannot afford not to have the best people on their team. I see a bright future for people studying, or looking to work as Human Resource Managers in Lebanon..as well as people who want to open a Human Resource Consultancy.

#2. Social Media Strategist/Specialist – Gary Vaynerchuk said it best when he said that “99.5% of Social Media Experts are clowns. If you’re into social media and you don’t know who Gary V is, look him up. (Right Youssef? haha)

Listen. Having a blog, facebook profile and/or page, twitter and linkedin account does NOT make you a social media expert/strategist/specialist/scholar/extraordinaire..whatever you want to call it. Although, I will admit that it’s a good place to start. But unless you have at least 4 or 5 SUCCESSFUL social media campaigns under your belt, I really don’t recommend referring to yourself as an expert..you’re an enthusiast at best.

Let’s be real, most people out there masquerading as social media experts have no idea what the hell they’re talking about. But to be fair, this definitely has something to do with the constant evolution of the title, and the confusion over the different phases and parts of the social media lifecycle. For example, someone could be a great social media strategist, but a really average community manager..and vice versa.. From my experience, this is because people who build strategies usually don’t like to execute, and people who like to execute don’t usually like to build strategies. Despite this, both people need to have a very good idea of what the other person does. (See where this gets confusing??) And I  haven’t even begun to discuss all of the different elements that go into a truly superb social media campaign (design, copywriting and content strategy, development, planning, media…etc etc)..

Social Media Specialist

source

For now, I think it’s accurate to say that social media is still in its infancy in Lebanon. Yes there are a smattering of agencies and brands who have tapped into the wealth of social media, but for the most part..the Lebanese market is wayyyy behind. Brands (and agencies) are still obsessed with traditional advertising (print, outdoor, TV, and radio)..and only a very small percentage of advertising/marketing budgets are allocated to online/digital activations

This presents a great, yet challenging opportunity for people who work or want to work in social media. If you’re in the field right now, you have first mover advantage..but that being said, it can be a real uphill climb educating Lebanese clients on the benefits of social media, as well as the associated COSTS! Lebanese clients don’t seem to want to understand that social media requires time, effort, and (here’s the kicker) MONEY! It’s not a job for an intern, and it’s not something you tack onto the responsibilities of an employee who already has a heavy work-load..

Yet at the same time, proving your expertise can be difficult..since up until now, there is no formal training in social media..much of what people know is self-taught through personal use, and trial and error..so be ready to put some serious work into proving your worth even before the actual work begins!

There are various career paths for people looking to work in social media. You could work at a number of advertising or digital agencies, you could work in-house for a particular brand/company, or you could freelance with a few different clients. Whatever you end up choosing, be careful not to take on too much..and really make sure that you are passionate about the brands/clients you are working for. If you don’t believe in the brand/company yourself, no one will believe in you or the online presence you create for them.

Eventually, people who work in any and all communication fields (Corporate Communication, PR, Advertising) will be expected to be social media “specialists” in their own right. But I don’t see that happening for a long time..so to those of you who REALLY know a  thing or two about social media, I say MILK IT while you still can.

Social Media Strategistsource

#1. Hospitality Retail Manager/Customer Service Consultant – The Lebanese may be the ‘Kings (and Queens) of Hospitality’ in their own homes..but I can’t say the same for restaurants and other service oriented business (especially retail!). Generally speaking, the people who work in the service industry are grossly underpaid (much like everyone in Lebanon) and undertrained (which is the fault of management). So I can understand how they are not incentivized to work any harder than putting food on a table and ringing up a purchase.

image credit

As someone who has worked in a retail environment and in a restaurant/hotel environment, I’m oftentimes sorely disappointed at the lack of training and general disinterest of people working in these roles. I mean, if you don’t like working with or serving people, what the hell are you doing working as a waitress? And this goes for international chains operating in Lebanon as well! I’ll never forget this one time I went to return a dress at H&M in Hamra. The cashier looked at me as if I had asked him to run a marathon. “Do you really want to return this?” he said to me? “Ummm YES!..that’s why I’m here!” I said back. You HAVE to read @ebyking‘s post about his recent shopping experience..and while you’re at it..read @ivysblog post about her “unfortunate incident at Aishti outlet in Ashrafieh.”

I mean, I just don’t get it. Don’t restaurant/business owners understand that your employees are as important to your business as the quality of whatever it is that you serve or sell? I mean, HELLO! This is especially true for very high-end restaurants and stores who you would THINK understand the value of their waitstaff/sales people..but if anything it’s the opposite!!…you go in expecting so much (given what you’re paying and the place’s international rep), and come out with a slap in the face thinking…”Well, what the hell was that? What a waste!”

The market is ripe for people who want to work in hospitality, F&B management, and customer service training and consultancy. Many high-end hotels and international retail chains are hiring (very expensive) consultants from abroad to help streamline their processes and manage their operations. I say, put together your own consultancy and take advantage of this opportunity! Lebanon is very well-known for its shopping, nightlife, and entertainment even with these problems. Imagine what Lebanon could be if these issues were improved/fixed!!

Whewww! ..if you’ve made it all this way, congratulations! I know it was a long ride. (I totally ignored Loryne’s tip about not writing long posts. oh well! I ain’t perfect!).

Now it’s your turn..I want to hear your opinion of my picks and any that I may have left out!

32 Comments

Filed under life in Lebanon, Working in Lebanon

32 responses to “5 emerging careers to look out for in Lebanon

  1. Great job Danielle! You’re right, it’s a long read but totally worth it. Excellent job on researching the topic!

  2. Lorena

    Spot on about the emerging jobs.. I’m getting into visual merchandising and it’s a very interesting career that’s much-needed here. Great post Danielle (and it was with being a long post loool!)😉

  3. Awesome post Danielle, I really enjoyed reading this, and it’s very informative.
    Also i completely agree with you on #1 “Hospitality Retail Manager/Customer Service Consultant”. I always found it strange that Lebanon has (in my opinion) some of the best Customer Service for restaurants and hotels and the WORST customer service in retail!

    As for emerging careers, i also believe careers in banking will grow to include financial advisers, brokers, and even superannuation.
    Another one would be proper and professional real estate agents, (by that i don’t mean your next door neighbour who knows some guy who’s selling his place). I mean offices spread out all across lebanon with proper services.

  4. Interesting in deed Danielle. I would like to focus on the social media specialist’s career in Lebanon and even in the Middle East. One thing to keep in mind, I’m not an expert yet on social media, but do have first hand experience with it. With a klout score of 60, you can say that I’m influential and yet followers do listen and react with me on my posts and shared content. One good tip I have learned in social media marketing is that like anything else in marketing, you have to build a relationship with the audience/brand before you can start promoting it. Look into the new way of marketing now – inbound marketing is what social media should be all about. Listen, Learn, and engage with your audience that you see most valuable to them. Outbound marketing is the traditional way, and I’m not a fan off at all. I hate interruption and I don’t like distraction. It is definitely a turn-off when you try to promote something by interrupting. This is my 2 cent of the day. Let’s all profit from fusion of great minds🙂

  5. Youssef Chaker

    You have good timing, you know that?
    So today I was at the Osteopath and I really want to highlight the alternative medicine option.

    Throughout college, I’ve had my fair share or housemates/roommates. All american. And EVERY single one of them had at least one if not two prescription bottles that are refilled on a regular basis. Popping pills like candy is the norm in the US and in many other places in the world. And you said it very well, these pills treat the short term syndroms and not the real cause.

    I have been doing chiropractic therapy for more than 2 years. It basically saved my life. And Osteopathy is definitely something i’m going to keep doing while im here in Morocco.

    And as my man TJ (that’s what we WAHOOS call Thomas Jefferson, for everyone who was wondering) said:

    “The most uninformed mind with a healthy body is happier than the wisest valetudinarian” or “strong body makes the mind strong.”

    So this is the reason I want to emphasize the importance of the emergence of that field in Lebanon. And if you don’t know where to start, you can start here: http://www.facebook.com/PrimedClinic

    oh, and Dani, great job on the post🙂

    Be cool, be Zen…

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  7. Interesting to read, well researched and very updated and in fact the stated jobs are really the new trend nowadays Human resource, merchandising and social media specialist… what was really interesting is the customer service officer since i am personally a big fan of the service industry coming from a marketing background i created my blog doesitringabell.wordpress.com almost 3 weeks ago ( so bear with me i am still new at these things!) the blog is about sharing my experiences with the service in Lebanon …. it would be a great pleasure for me if you can review it and let me know what you think, especially that you are a specialist in the domain….

    keep on the good job! and i will keep on reading

    • Great blog Joelle! I will definitely be adding it to my list of blogs to read😀 I’m really passionate about the Hospitality industry – after all, I worked in it for three years! It will be great reading about your adventures around Lebanon.😀 Don’t forget to promote your blog on Facebook and Twitter and get your friends reading it too!😀

  8. So worth the read..
    I can’t but agree with u. The window displays are an eye sore.
    Human resources are a disaster.
    Don’t get me started on social media

    Looking forward to ur next post

  9. wWhat about banking and financial services? Banks are considered ‘big’ organisations in Beirut?
    Does anyone have an idea of the wages in this sector? Some mentioned an average of 3000 – 4000 $ a month for an experienced professional? Do people lie about their wages in this country? No one offered more than 2000 $ yet!

    • Hi Gass, thanks for your comment. The reason that I didn’t mention banking and financial services is that they are not EMERGING careers. They are already established! Lebanon has been known as a banking haven for decades, if not longer. As for the salaries, I’m not sure what people make really..but if you work in a commission based role, obviously you money making potential would be a lot higher.😀

  10. Karim

    My wife is interested in a visual merchandising career! Any advice where to start?

    • From what I know of, there are fashion schools in Lebanon. I would start there first to see if they offer courses in visual merchandising! Then, I would look online to see if there are any courses online I could take..(during this time I would look up all of the visual merchandising blogs and whatever free resources I could get my hands) and finally, if I couldn’t find a course in Lebanon or online that suits my needs,,I would go away to school for a little bit!! Also, I would look into getting an internship at a well-respected retail store! Hope this helps a bit!

  11. Leila Khauli

    Danielle. I totally agree with you. Three of the jobs you discuss are in my field and I keep telling my students to specialize in one of them. I liked the content and your style of writing.

  12. Angelique Sabounjian

    I loved your post Danielle, every issue you discussed is equally important & true, 3 out of the 5 you mentioned, the natural health practitioner, social media & visual merchanding are things that I implement in my life. I met a natural health practitoner at a yoga seminar 2 months ago & I’m hooked on natural health, acupuncture & herbal medicine & I reccomend it to everyone. As for the social media I’m not an expert at all but I do spend all my time on it to manage my fb page & twitter accounts, and thrilled to see that more and more Lebanese are getting involved in Twitter & blogging.
    As for the vivsual merchandinsing, not an expert either but been trying to “design” my own window at my office/boutique & would love to puruse it by gettung the right courses to be able to one day work in it as a freelancer. You can check an example of the window display I have now (it’s nothing exceptional just a bit different that other window displays) http://Angeliquesabounjian.tumblr.com/

    • Angelique! First of all, I love your line of bags! They are gorgeous! I’m looking to spruce up my bag collection if I do say so myself, so I’m definitely going to look into your line.:D I think your window is adorable, and I love the fact that you took initiative to style something on your own. There are fantastic resources online that you can look into if you can’t find any courses in Leb..I came across a lot of really interesting websites when I was doing research for this post! Just type in visual merchandising, or visual merchandising fashion..and VIOLA!

      I hope to see you around here more often, I’m going to follow you on Twitter and add your blog to my RSS feed ASAP. (BTW, Kim is hottt in that pic, right?!)

  13. joseph

    I think this is your best (or 2nd best) post! These job-related posts really are valuable.

    As an idea, maybe you could start a post on the ‘value’ or perceived value of having Lebanon as a job experience on a resume and see whether this has helped/hindered your readers in the past. I’ve certainly had mixed reactions from employers in the West about this.

    • Hi Joseph! Thanks for your comment..

      You know what, I’ve been thinking a lot about that..what type of reaction I’ll get when (or if) I eventually decide to come back to the West. You really have gotten mixed reactions? Hmmm, I always thought it would be the opposite! Most people in the West don’t even know where Lebanon is..and those that do know it, consider it a war-torn country and nowhere that anyone would want to live..and to me, the fact that someone lived and worked there and was able to succeed is a big plus I should think.. That being said, Lebanon is still an emerging market, and employers might not give as much weight to experience gained in an emerging market as they would a developed market.

      But, I really like this thinking! I’m going to see if I can put something together! Thanks for the suggestion Joseph!😀

  14. Aladin

    Very interesting article!

  15. Youssef Chaker

    im coming across these videos a little late in respect to the posts, but here it is none the less: a really good reason why i chose alternative medicine as the important point of what you’ve listed:

  16. .Im getting tired of people thinking that web 2.0 tools like Twitter blogs are magic things that will get people more customers by their very nature..They arent..Someone I follow on Twitter to an article called . The author of the article finishes the paragraph that talks about how social media will magically increase your business with this line .Over time these word of mouth clients will be the best leads for your business..That dear reader isnt a tenet of social networking. The last line I quoted above is only possible if the plumber delivers a good service..But you already knew that.

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  18. This is my second WOW I say about your post.
    I am about to move to Lebanon, I will do a paid-internship with a company in Verdun area. My interview will be on next week. I hope I can pass it well *fingercrossed*
    Reading your BLOG is such an enlightenment to me Dani! Thanks a lot!
    I can’t wait to read another posts!! xoxo

  19. J the K (basically anonymous for now)

    Another Wow today. Yes Hospitality and consulting. I have worked for 17 years in hotels and restaurants. So when I left everything and decided to move back to Lebanon, the obvious choice was hospitality for me. However having done my MBA, I was tired of the inefficient customer service and management that exist in Lebanon. so I am combined both my expertise and my education into consulting for hospitality.

    Grossly underpaid but immense satisfaction. I am now in charge of all Food and beverage clients in Lebanon and the satisfaction I get from helping these people is truly one of a kind.

  20. Naim

    There are other emerging careers in Lebanon, that in my opinion are worth more than what you have mentioned!! i.e. Computer Science, Radio/Tv/Film .. Nutrition … etc…

  21. Helena

    I really am interested in visual merchandising. Will anyone give me further details about this job please (i.e. wages, locations, etc…)? Your help is so much appreciated.

  22. It’s nearly impossible to find well-informed people on this topic,
    however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about!
    Thanksstreetdirectory (Maura)

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