by Admin

A comprehensive guide on how to successfully find a job in Dubai

29 Jun, 2022

People from all over the world dream of working in Dubai.

It might have something to do with the promise of year round sun, tax-free earnings, generous salary packages, 7-star hotels and great beaches...maybe.

Whatever the reason, Dubai has the potential to deliver it all and more.

Having said this, a lot of would be expats find their Dubai career dreams frustrated by long, unfruitful job searches, complicated recruitment processes, dead ends and false starts.

Finding yourself in the wrong job in Dubai can be worse than finding no job at all, and wasting loads of time and money on an unsuccessful job search is really demoralizing.

But it doesn't have to be that way, hold those thoughts of yacht cruises, beach volleyball and tax-free savings in your mind as I reveal my secrets to finding a great job in Dubai in 2022.

In this article, I’m going to share with you my secrets for finding a job in Dubai, many of these secrets are not revolutionary, however, don’t be deceived by their simplicity.

I moved to Dubai in 2013 and worked as a Dubai recruitment consultant, my journey involved false starts, complications and frustrations.

As a job searcher in Dubai, and as a recruiter working for Dubai recruitment agencies, I accumulated a wealth of knowledge, and a deep insight into what it takes to get hired in Dubai.

I learned that finding a job in Dubai does not need to be complicated, those who are successful do the basics well and stay focused, and that’s what I’m going to help you to do.

All of these steps were born out of my own personal job search mistakes, which saw me take 3 whole months to find a job, plus the mistakes that I saw others make time and time again whilst working for a recruitment agency in Dubai.

With that said, let’s delve in, here are my secrets to finding a job in Dubai.

1. Don’t apply for too many roles

This will either seem obvious to you, or counterintuitive, either way, it’s a very important point and that’s why we’re starting here.

The prevailing logic goes something like this; the more job applications you make, the more chances you have of landing interviews.

Unfortunately, this is just not the case, applying for too many jobs in Dubai can actually work against you.

The main reason why this is the case, comes down to the simple fact that recruiters in Dubai are tasked with finding very specific talent for very specific roles.

Let me give you an example, if a recruitment agency in Dubai is looking for sales professionals for the automotive industry, they are very unlikely to approach sales professionals from the food industry or luxury goods industry, even though the skill set is arguably the same and the required knowledge very acquirable.

Companies in Dubai prefer to hire people who already possess the knowledge, skillset and experience that they require.

This means that candidates need to be able to demonstrate to recruiters and hiring teams that they can offer all that's required.

You can't possibly be a good fit for every role out there, or even a majority of the roles out there, so don't bother applying for them, you'll just be wasting your time.


Get specific

If you want to find a job in Dubai you need to adopt a much targeted approach, and this means applying only for the roles that you are at least 80% qualified for.

If you can't demonstrate that you possess the relevant skills and specific experience that's required, don't bother applying.

Pay particular attention to language requirements, professional qualifications, educational requirements and specific regional experience.

Don't apply for a role requiring an Arabic speaker with Middle East experience if you only speak English and have never left the UK!

When you begin to apply for roles for which you are not an obvious fit, you will get frustrated at the lack of positive response, you’ll begin to lose focus and you’ll send the message to recruitment consultants in Dubai that you are also going to waste their time.

Instead, you should decide on exactly which roles and which companies that you’re going to target, these should be the roles and companies for which you are an obvious fit and to which you can bring relevant skills and experience.

This is absolutely where you should begin, everything else such as how to write your CV, how to update your LinkedIn profile and which recruiters to work with, will stem from having a targeted job search plan.

2. Partner with a Dubai recruiter

In my experience, most organizations in Dubai instruct recruitment companies to help fill their roles, it's why there are so many successful recruitment firms in Dubai.

Recruiters in Dubai are your doorway into some of the best companies in the region, the very best recruiters in Dubai will have spent years cultivating relationships with hiring managers and HR teams, many of which they will have placed into roles!


Start building relationships

If you want to access the best job opportunities in Dubai, you should develop a relationship with one or two great recruiters.

Not only will a good recruiter help you to find your first role in Dubai, they'll also be there to help you get promotions in the future, provided you maintain a good relationship with them.

It's worth it, every good Dubai recruiter, including Hannah and I, will have stories of great candidates that we kept in touch with and placed into multiple roles over the years.

Which recruiters should you work with?

The problem is, Dubai is full of recruitment consultants and recruitment agencies, so which should you approach, and which should you work with?

Consider the following criteria when deciding which Dubai recruiters to work with:

• Find a Dubai recruiter that works with a well-respected and well-established recruitment agency.

• One that specializes in your industry, understands your role and has a well-developed network.

• One that is willing to meet with you, or at least speak with you on the phone or via a video call.

If you pick the right recruiters at this stage in your Dubai job search, you can greatly enhance your chances of finding a good role, you'll also cut down your search time and develop your Dubai career further in the future.


3. Adapt your CV for every single job application...yes all of them!

Before you decide that this sounds like way too much work, and move onto another article, remember my first point!

You’re not going to be applying for hundreds of roles, you’re only going to be applying for the roles that are a great fit for you.

So, that means you can take a little more time on each and every job application, it’s a quality over quantity approach and believe me, it works.

Instead of hitting apply 10-20 times a day on Dubai job boards and LinkedIn, you’re going to find 1-2 really great roles in the companies that you want to work for, and you’re going to make sure your CV and your application hit the mark!

Picture this, when a Dubai recruiter or HR team member sees your application come through and opens up your CV, they are going to immediately see (in the first three sentences) that you are the person that they have been looking for their whole lives, or at least the for the last few weeks!

When it comes to making sure your CV is optimized for the Dubai market, start by downloading an ATS-friendly CV template which includes space for each of the following sections:

• Name and contact details right at the top of the page.

• A space for a one-line description of your role that can be adapted for each application.

• A professional profile section that focuses on what you can bring to the role and NOT on what you want to get out of it.

• A core competencies or selected achievements section evidenced with facts and figures.


4. Get a local Dubai number

When I first relocated to Dubai, I had my UK phone number on my CV, LinkedIn and job board profiles.

After some weeks of receiving no calls, despite lots of applications, I got myself a local Dubai sim card and put my new Dubai phone number on all of my profiles.

Right away I began to receive calls from recruiters, and started to get interviews.

I later learned that recruiters in Dubai prefer to look for candidates who are already on the ground in Dubai.

Why do Dubai recruiters want local candidates?

Firstly, it’s cheaper for the organization that's hiring.

If a company in Dubai can recruit a candidate who's already in the country, they are less likely to have to pay relocation costs.

If that person has also been working in Dubai a little while they will come with the added benefit of regional experience. By the way, this is often why people find it much easier to land their second job in Dubai and find that they get offered much better packages the second time, even if it's only a year later!

Secondly, it’s less of a risk for the Dubai recruiter as a local candidate (an expat that's already in Dubai) is much less likely to back out of a hiring process and get cold feet about relocating.

Thirdly, it's easier and cheaper to bring you in for interviews.

Basically, if you are already in Dubai, you're in a stronger position to land a job, even if you're just there on a Dubai visit visa.

So, once you have a Dubai number on your CV, LinkedIn profile and job boards, you’ll send a very clear message to all Dubai recruiters that you are here and ready to be hired.

If you are not currently in Dubai, and don’t plan to visit in order to look for work, this may not be a tip that you can easily implement.

However, if you are in Dubai or you’re planning a visit, you can simply visit a local DU or Etisalat store in any of Dubai’s many shopping malls, and get yourself a local pre-paid sim.

Just remember to take your passport with you, as you’ll need to present ID to acquire your local number.

5. Get on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the Dubai job seekers' secret weapon.

A vast majority of HR professionals and recruiters in Dubai use LinkedIn. The reason for this is probably the fact that around 50% of the population use the professional networking platform.

In a population of just over 10m people, 5m are on LinkedIn.

If a company or a recruiter wants to find talent in Dubai, they look on LinkedIn.

So, if you want to find a job in Dubai, you need to be on LinkedIn, and you need to make sure your LinkedIn profile is 100% completed.

When completing or updating your LinkedIn profile for your Dubai job search, bear in mind that recruiters and HR teams will be searching by keywords in order to find you.

This means your About section, Headline and Experience section need to include the relevant terms that people search for.  

However, don’t just keyword dump, make sure that whatever you write makes sense, reads well and is in context.

If you are already on the ground in Dubai, or will be there soon, change your location to Dubai and remember to include your Dubai telephone number and a professional sounding email address.

In order to give yourself the best chance of being found and standing out on LinkedIn, make sure you have a great looking LinkedIn profile picture and have a well-designed LinkedIn banner image.


The secret to finding a job in Dubai using LinkedIn

If you want to really leverage LinkedIn to help you land a job in Dubai, use it to network.

Many people (including myself), find great jobs in Dubai as a result of building relationships.

Dubai is a very relational culture, people like to network and it's often said that in Dubai it is more about who you know rather than what you know.

Using a free trial of LinkedIn Premium, you can reach out directly to the hiring managers, industry leaders, and HR directors etc. in the companies that you want to work for and invite them to meet for a coffee.

Finding a job in Dubai, and enjoying a fulfilling career in the UAE, does not have to be a frustrating and complicated process. Many thousands of people do it year on year and at The English Meeting Room, we are privileged to continue helping people to land great jobs in Dubai.

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