Job search in Dubai is no walk in the park; in fact it’s probably worse than getting your UAE driving license. You also get to hear phrases like ‘bad market’, ‘no hiring season’ or even ‘rece ssion’ from time to time—and while there might be some truth to it—not all hope is lost!
Once you’re done updating your resume, sifting through job boards and just wallowing in self-pity, add these seven must-do things in your job search checklist.
1. Make your resume or CV stand out from the herd
A generic resume with hackneyed phrases like ‘excellent team player’ and ‘strong organisational skills’ would have cut it had it been 2000. It’s 2017, and your resume should also come-of-age. Customise it with every application that you submit. Make it more interesting, add some colours, provide numbers wherever required—just generally spice it up. Do the same with your cover letter, don’t Ctrl C, Ctrl V the same write-up in every email you send, customise it with the position you’re applying for. As the kind folks on Twitter say, and we concur, if you haven’t edited your cover letter with every application, have you applied AT ALL?
If you want to make things more interesting, go for a video resume. That gives an opportunity to the employer to gauge your personality, confidence and communication skills even before they’ve met you, thereby giving you an edge amongst hundreds of other contenders vying for the same position.
2. Don’t get complacent with the notion of time
A month or two will fly by in just finding your foot in a foreign land, let alone in looking for a job. It’s highly advisable to take a three-month visit visa if you’re only starting out now. The key is to start the job hunt a month or two prior to your date of shifting. I got my first interview after one and a half month of landing here. And while not every experience is the same, the story is more or less familiar, if not worse, for everyone.
If your spouse is already working here, we’d recommend you take a dependent visa almost immediately. That makes you an employee that can start working ASAP—something that’s always preferred over employees who have long notice periods.
3. Never let go of any opportunity and apply away to glory
If there is one lesson we can all take away from Donald Trump, it’s that anyone can get the job. Your work experience and qualifications will take you ahead a great deal, agreed, but a little bit of luck is always involved when landing a job. Search through every job portal active in Dubai, scour all the third-party job sites and apply to each one of them even remotely related to your field. It may seem tedious at first, but registering on job portals give you a good push in starting your search for your dream job. Not only it’s a great way to get some insight on the current hiring trend but also to understand if there is any demand for your specific set of skills.
Some of the recommendations in terms of response, job alerts, popularity and application tracking are—Internsme (yes, they have listings for both full-time and temp jobs), Bayt (a great way to apply at home-grown brands), Gulf Talent, Monster Gulf, Naukri Gulf, Indeed.ae and even Dubizzle among others. You can also register in one of these recruitment agencies of Dubai that continuously update their jobs and act as your own personal headhunter— HR Source, Charterhouse Consultancy, TASC Outsourcing, HAYS UAE, Nadia recruitment agency, MCG & associates, Randstand MENA and Jivaro Search.
Apart from that, make LinkedIn your go-to social media networking site—to the point that when you get up in the morning, the first thing you check on your phone isn’t Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, but LinkedIn! Use the platform to create a strong profile, and keep updating it as and when you learn a new skill. LinkedIn allows you to attach your portfolio, work and your CV directly in your profile, thereby making it the most comprehensive job hunting and networking site there is. You can use its PULSE blog to write about things you’re genuinely interested in—professionally or creatively. These write-ups automatically show up on your profile that only further enhances your page.
4. Knowing Arabic is highly desirable in today’s market
Well, this is as obvious as it can get. Knowing the language of the land you’re on is always an added advantage. I can bet my life if there are two candidates with similar strengths and skill sets, the one who knows Arabic will be hired in the end. Give yourself that edge and start learning the language pronto.
5. Skip the middlemen business and directly connect with the boss
The chances of getting a reply back from the person-in-charge is always much higher than getting one from the HR. Which kind of makes sense, because let’s face it, an HR gets some 20-50, or probably even more, CVs per day—I mean they’re literally swarmed in resumes, what makes you think they’ll reply back to your emails specifically? Don’t get us wrong, some of them even do that, but they are few and far between. And while we are at it, you must also learn to read between the lines. For instance, if an HR replies to you saying, ‘We’ll get back to you,’ they are obviously not going to get back to you, silly. Or when they say, ‘the concerned person is on leave. Will call you once he is back,’ he’s right they are giving this directive and you can surely kiss the job goodbye.
Having said that, you do have nothing to lose so might as well just bite the bullet, draft a good cover letter and send that email to the authority directly.
6. Network, network and network
Personal references go a long way in securing a job in Dubai. If you have a friend here working in the same field whom you haven’t spoken to in a long time, it’s time to be shameless, pick that phone and ask them for a favour. Get reacquainted, take them out and interact, who knows the good word they’ll put in their company for you might just help you get a job.
Alternatively, make professional contacts through LinkedIn, approach every important personality in your field with a well-thought out message. Odds are 9 out of 10 times they won’t pay heed to your message, but even if there is one percent chance of you coming under the radar of an employer, we’d recommend you take the plunge. Always keep your eyes and ears open and take note of all the professional networking meet-ups happening around you. However, we’ve to warn you, if you think finding and securing an invitation for these meet-ups is tough, holding your own in the parties is tougher. There will be people in groups equivalent of Mean Girls who’ll silently give you the ‘you can’t sit with us’ vibes; you’ve to develop a thick skin to deal with them. Although things are not as black and white and you will also realise with every new interaction that there are good people out there who genuinely want to help others. Keep them close.
7. DO NOT give up
There are some people who are headhunted from a foreign place, there are a few who get the job within their first three months of landing in Dubai. Some of them get an opportunity after six to eight months and yet there are others who take a year or two to get the job they want. The point is, everyone has a different story to tell, no two experiences are same, so there is no yardstick with which you measure the average time taken to get a job. This seems like something that’s easier said than done—but you need to be patient and relentless enough to not give up this arduous process of job hunting. Have faith in yourself and stay positive, there is a job for you that’s just waiting for the right moment to happen.
Lastly, think about this period of an eternal wait as gift of time which you can use to learn a new skill or hone your already-existing skills.
We’d also love to hear what you did to get a recruiter’s attention. Let us know through the comments section below.