Relocating to the UAE is still very popular and we lose count of the daily emails and CVs we receive from candidates living overseas. The message we give them is the same – you’re likely to have to relocate first, then search for a job while you’re here. The reason for this – The slower job market due to the oil price, and companies being hesitant to hire extra headcount. There are already more candidates available in the UAE market than there are jobs. Employers do not have to look overseas to find their ideal candidate, unless they’re looking for extremely unique skills. On the plus-side, thanks to 85% of the population being expats, the workforce is transient which creates jobs when they return to their home countries and the role needs replacing.
So, what is the best way to go about finding a job in the UAE whilst still living abroad? Below are our thoughts after having worked in Dubai as a senior recruiters for the past few years.
Do your research on cost of living versus your achievable salary
It’s often only when we ask whether the candidate has any children, does their spouse also work, have they considered the cost of education, the cost of an appropriate house, car, food etc that realism sets in. Living in the UAE is not cheap. Do your research on job sites to gain an understanding of what you could achieve financially and work out whether it’s actually worth relocating here. Remember that you may need to pay 12 month’s rent up front (although this requirement is becoming less prolific these days). If relocation is still looking like a positive move financially, then move ahead with your plans.
Ask your current employer for an internal move
When working for a multinational company, you may be lucky enough to get a permanent position or secondment overseas. This is by far the easiest way to relocate. They will pay your expenses and it’s an easy transition.
Use your network of friends
If you can get a foot in the door by way of a friend’s referral, you’ll stand a better chance than applying to jobs online. Ask your friends to send your CV to people they know.
Target the right recruitment consultant
An experienced recruiter is likely to be a subject-matter expert in just one field only. For example, if you’re looking for a finance job, target consultants who have this mentioned on their LinkedIn profiles or on their company’s website. There really is no point in sending a CV showcasing your Marketing experience to a consultant who does not fill marketing positions.
Apply for suitable positions online
Ensure your CV is going to the right people as mentioned above – this includes applying for those jobs which you genuinely feel you have a strong chance of getting. Each job post requires just one successful applicant. If 1000 people apply, 5 will be shortlisted and 995 are going to be unsuccessful in reaching interview stage. Take note of the requirements and understand that the employers who pay the recruiter’s fees, expect us to find their ‘dream candidate’. It’s therefore unlikely you will be shortlisted if you’re applying for a HR Director position if your experience to date has been working as a Sales Assistant. Unfortunately this wastes everybody’s time as we have to check through irrelevant applications and you may even be blacklisted or added to the ‘junk’ list. The reason many consultants don’t reply to job applicants is the volume we receive is not manageable. If we spent all day replying to unsuitable applicants, we wouldn’t have time to do anything else.
Ensure your CV is professional
Multi-coloured CVs using different sized text which is bold, in italics and underlined, cluttered with spelling mistakes and a poor quality photo are a real turn-off for any professional company. If you choose to include a photo, ensure it is recent and you are in appropriate attire for your industry and job type. A CV should be no longer than 3 pages, demonstrating key achievements gained in each company. Stick to using bullet points, avoid long paragraphs, and keep it simple and clean. Many recruiters have to sift through 100s of CVs for each position. If your CV is easy to read, mentioning relevant keywords, you stand a better chance of being noticed.
Short cover email – not cover letter
We personally prefer a short introductory email to accompany a well-written CV. There isn’t enough time to open a separate cover letter. Unless the employer has specified they want a cover letter, don’t send one. There is also no need to attach multiple documents with qualifications, passport copy etc. We also advise you not to send your CV in a group email – remember to have a more targeted approach, addressing consultants individually.
Come on a well-timed holiday, on a visit visa
Arriving in Dubai during a major public holiday, Ramadan, or in the height of the summer heat is not ideal. Ask your recruiter when they feel the busiest time for your specific job type is, and forewarn recruiters about 3 weeks in advance of your arrival. Plan to spend as long as possible on the ground, as it can take weeks between 1st, 2nd and 3rd interviews depending on your level of seniority.
Meeting recruiters face-to-face is the only sure fire way to be remembered. At Inspire Selection, our Consultants each talk to around 20-30 candidates per day so it’s not easy to remember a new person who had a 5 minute phone conversation 4 hours earlier. Build a good rapport with your consultant by calling or emailing once a week while you’re in the country.
Arrange a follow-up visit
If you weren’t successful on the first trip, you may need to schedule another as soon as your diary permits. At least once you have met relevant recruitment consultants, you stand a better chance of them being able to convince employers to meet you on your next trip.
Don’t burn any bridges with your current employer
Not everyone is successful in finding employment in the UAE. It can take several trips before you find your ideal role. Therefore it is imperative to keep your existing employer happy until something else comes along.