Looking for a new job in the UAE? Here are some tips from the experts!

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I asked my connections on LinkedIn for tips for job seekers in the UAE, and I am sharing some of the tips and recommendations that I received. Some of the responses may have been shortened and/or edited. I added my comments at the end of the post. 
By far, the best contribution I received was from Rasha Taha, an entrepreneur who has experience in a wide variety of industries and companies in the Middle East.

– First of all you need to have what I call a Dubadized CV, since the recruitment process in Dubai is unique to the rest of the world. Recruiters are bombarded with cvs and unless yours has something special no one will notice it. Formatting means a lot. Keywords are key and it needs to show that you’ve done epic work. You need to spice it up. It also needs to contain info that honestly you wouldn’t put in other countries like nationality! Sad but true that there is nothing called equal opportunity employment over here. To test the strength of your Dubadized cv go to any recruitment website and search for someone with a similar profile as a recruiter, you will see what you are up against.

– Secondly, sorry but yes the preference is that you are physically in Dubai, however, you can trick recruiters to at least seeing your CV even if you are not by keeping Dubai location and telephone on the CV. You can easily get a roaming SIM card that you should use. I know this is a trick but it works and it depends how desperate you are to get a job here.

– Thirdly it’s all about connections, you can send a thousand applications and won’t get a call but if you know someone who recommends you well your chances of getting the job went up by 50%. If you don’t know anyone you can also fake it by getting active on LinkedIn, join groups and become active on forums. Connect to recruiters in your industry. 9 out of 10 jobs I got were through linkedin. Get people to write recommendations about you. Recruiters can see this and it impacts their decision to call you.

– Fourth, don’t give up. Everyone wants a job here so you just have to be persistent, consistent and driven- even after you get the job. Apply daily, check message boards, subscribe to recruiter newsletters and so on.

– Triple check your email spelling, grammar and the small details before sending. From a recruiter point of view, if you can’t spellcheck then you can’t do the job.
– Add a nice corporate looking picture, not a crop from your vacation or booze night, CVs with photos have a better chance of an interview.

– Don’t do a one size fits all application, too many times I have the same person applying to two different jobs with the same message copied and pasted, which shows me as a recruiter that firstly you don’t know what you want, and secondly, that you are not interested in putting the effort early on.

– Do your homework: I recently hired someone after interviewing tons of applicants for the sole reason is that she was confident in saying “hello I am stalking your company, I love what you do and I want you to interview me”. Her assertiveness and knowledge of our services plus her positive attitude landed her the job. It is about showing employers what you can bring to the table even before the interview.

– Stalk your dream job/employer: attend events where they will be, comment on their social media, become friends with their hiring agencies.

– Check out the information posted by experts on the topic like from Anas Marie who can help you get the most out of your LinkedIn profile.

– Also check other sites that can help you build a stronger CV.

– Keep following Omar Abu Omar because he’s almost a recruiter.
One of the users, Shraddha Barot Amariei added to Rasha’s comment the following:
– Attention to detail; very cliche but three very important words. SO many people miss the above; and me being someone who recruits people for my company I am super busy and when people make silly mistakes like forwarding their CV chain from other employers and not writing an attractive cover letter and CV I straight away delete them. That is because if you cannot put 15 minutes of your time in making your own application worthy makes me feel what difference you will make in my company!
Pete Aldwinckle shared his insights: 
 Follow the instructions on the job advertisement such as how to nane your CV and the post open. I found I was giving under 10 seconds per CV initial scan; put the grabbing information in the first page: consistent font, layout and pagination. Spelling. Keep CV under 2 pages and tell the reader why you can do the job advertised however limited the information you have on the job and company. Previous employment in reverse chronological order with dates. And, maybe these are my pet hates; surfing the Internet and online gaming are not interests that will sell yourself to an outdoor adventure equipment company and I always thought cum was associated with the porn industry and not being an accountant.
Omaima Mohammad, an Emirati banking professional shared the following insights: 

This is how I consider a CV for interview although I am not an HR person but a decision maker in the selection process:


– A simple and straightforward CV is preferable without a photo. (I know it’s not the way things usually go in this region).


– Clear language without stuffing difficult vocabulary and sentences.

– Specific terminologies related to the job description are preferable as it will give an idea about the candidate.


– Knowing the core system & specify it in the CV. In the UAE, the investment & finance sectors  are dealing with well-known vendors & use 3 or 4 systems no matter what versions. If the candidate has worked with some of them and is familiar to 1 or 2 of them then it’s brilliant.


– Diversity of nationalities is important. In my team I have Arabs including locals, American, Indians & Pakistanis. I ask HR to provide me with new blood of nationalities. Different cultures enrich the team spirit.


– Being physically active and engaging in sports is a positive point and shows the person’s socializing life.


– When I met HR to specify our unit’s requirements for hiring a candidate, they always ask about number of years of experience. I replied with one year.! Now, am not sure why we emphasize on long years of service, though it might not lead to any significant outcome quality of work. In other words, number of years is just a number.


– Knowledge of local/global related conditions/events going on is good. Although not necessarily related to day to day work but to have a fair idea is an advantage. (Basel 1/2, Islamic conferences, central banks regulations… etc).


– I first ask colleagues if they know good candidates, if not I ask people I know from the same field, if not then HR to provide CVs (not sure from where they get them). I avoid social media for one reason which is we are not allowed like marketing/media companies to share such openings in media. The maximum I can do is to refer a CV from LinkedIn to HR.
Francis Donohoe, who is a fellow runner and an HR Director shared the following tips: 

– A good CV that isn’t too long or too short, with enough substance and detail that’s relevant to the role you’re applying for (which may mean you have different versions of your cv that highlight key strengths) No spelling or grammar issues at all. Major pet hate. Include a photo and use a format/layout not from Word templates. Be original but not over the top.


– Make sure your LinkedIn profile matches your current CV, has a decent photo (not one that looks like suspect line up). Build connections and get referrals or recommendations on your profile. Most companies will use LinkedIn to view a profile and may have a recruiter account. If you are applying for a mid to senior level role, a professional LinkedIn profile is a must. Also be aware of what content you have on social media platforms, Google yourself and check!


– Network, call, message recruiters, resourcing managers, HR Managers etc When emailing or writing be personal, find out the name of the person you are actually emailing. Pet hate number 2 is generic emails addressed to ma’am and sir that land in my inbox from someone who has mailed 100 people.


– Be persistent and don’t give up. Use any means but being legal and not too annoying. I once had someone blag their way past reception and walk straight into my office and ask for a job and addressing me by name. Ballsy for sure, but it worked!


– If you get in front of recruiter or HR Manager, be Natural not forced, depending on the role and the information pre-screening tests or interviews have given me, if it comes down to two candidates with similar technical skills and experience to do the job, I will always choose the one with the personality I think that compliments the team and role.

Yasmin, who is a marketing professional based in Dubai had the following interested tips. Wasta is Arabic for using connections to get a job that a candidate might not necessarily be fit for. It’s a form of nepotism. 

 I don’t belive you need “wasta” to get a job. Yes it makes life a billion percent easier but I’ve gotten all my jobs without “wasta”. What you need in the uae Job market is
1. Perseverance. Expect 1 job interview for every ten applications .
2. A CV that has all the information ur future employer needs to see on the first page. For example. if they want someone who’s worked with data before mention it (only if truthful) on every single job summary.
3. DON’T include a picture ever, if the recruiter doesn’t like the way you look forget it. DON’T include anything like ur location nationality..etc where they could form any prejudice against you.
4. After you send out your CV, search for HR managers name on LinkedIn, then call the company and ask to speak with them. Tell the receptionist ur following up on an interview (true-ish) and speak to the HR manager directly let hem know ur interested and have sent ur cv across.
5. Let your personality shine in across in an interview and throw in a few buzzwords.
6. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE UR FUTURE EMPLOYER do some research on the person who is going to interview you and the company. You never know what they might bring up
7. ASK them questions about the Job the work culture and what they think success is (but not about money..etc on the first interview) remember You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.

Rami Salame shared the following tip:
I’d say networking has worked for me, as well as leaving a good impression with colleagues who then left to other places and recommended me there.
A short and funny tip by Yousra Zaki: 
If you want to get into media start a blog. You will thank me for this. Nothing says I have time to write great content more than unemployment.

To sum things up, as you can see, there are various ways tips, and no one single strategy that would work to get your dream job (or any job). The key phrase for me would be ‘it depends’, it depends on the role, the company, the experience, the experience and many other factors. Take everything into consideration, do not leave any stone unturned and be patient.

My own tips: 

– Utilize your network as much as you can. I am not talking about “wasta” here, but expand your network, connect on LinkedIn and in person to key people who you have worked with.

– Be patient and do not give up. The general economic climate is not very positive and companies are very conservative with their recruitment budgets and future growth plans.

– Dedicate twenty minutes every other day to browse LinkedIn, go through your feed etc. Do the same on Twitter, many recruiters are very active on Twitter, and use it extensively to source potential candidates.

– Do online courses, even if they are not entirely relevant to your field (eg. doing some of Google’s courses, even if you are an engineer lets say). They could provide an eye-opener and help you in other areas personally and professionally.

I wish all my friends and connections all the best in their careers, and as always, if you would like to connect and/or to share any job vacancies, feel free to do so via the below links. Please note that I do not share posts for professionals seeking new jobs, I only share vacancies.