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Job Hunting in UAE

First of all, let’s talk about the sorts of professionals in high demand in the UAE right now. Could you be one of them? Studies undertaken showed that the most desirable CV qualifications were those in engineering, business management and commerce, while employers especially valued applicants who spoke both English and Arabic.

One in four employers in the UAE is thought to be employing grads in business management at the moment, with another quarter of employers seeking out strong engineering graduates to fill their roles.

Top Paying Industries in Dubai (in no particular order)

  • Medicine
  • Tourism
  • Oil
  • Finance
  • Aviation
  • Real Estate

While experts predict that oil and gas production will remain the bedrock of the Emirati economy for the foreseeable future, the non-oil sector is looking pretty prosperous too. Areas such as aviation, security and safety equipment, IT services, architecture, construction and engineering services are all growing steadily and employing continually.

And because of the UAE’s ever growing demand for water and electricity to new areas of development, these sectors are also offering up more opportunities for employment.

Financial Incentives for Expats

  • Professionals get tax-free pay in the UAE, and salaries are on the up and up. In 2013, 21% of UAE professionals got a raise of over 15%.
  • Commission or bonus on top of guaranteed salary.
  • Most professionals can expect personal medical insurance, and an annual air ticket home as well as a housing allowance and contributions towards children’s school fees.

Average Monthly Salaries in UAE

OCCUPATION AVERAGE SALARY
Accounting and Finance 16,032 AED
Marketing 16,886 AED
Engineering 17,016 AED
Aviation 23,686 AED
Banking 23,761 AED
Medical 27,336 AED
Oil and Gas 29,264 AED
Legal 30,000 AED
Real Estate 32,120 AED
Executive and Management 38,561 AED

Work visas in the UAE

First things first: you’ll need a visa of some sort if you want to work in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Check out our handy article dedicated to UAE visa options and work out which one you’ll need first of all.

Some expats arrive in the UAE on a Tourist Visa and seek work whilst there – great for networking which is a big part of employment in the UAE – whilst others will secure a position first and have their employer do the paperwork for their Work Visa before they arrive.

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Network, network, network

We’re not saying this isn’t already a big aspect of employment in your sector or where you come from, but in the UAE most employers recruit directly through recommendations and networking. Employments agencies will often not get a look in when jobs come up here.

One big, resounding tip above all others from our expats is to get yourself on Linkedin and start connecting with people working in the UAE and in your area of expertise. It’s competitive out there and you cannot afford to be passive when it comes to job searching or making connections.

It might not be the way you’d go about things over here and it may even feel a little out of your comfort zone to go about job seeking in this manner, but this is how it almost always works out there. Being connected with all the groups for employers you’d like to work for in the UAE should also ensure that you’re the first to hear when a vacancy comes up.

Networking on Linkedin

Send out messages to prospective contacts through Linkedin and treat your first contact as a speculative job application in itself. Don’t simply wait for jobs to come up because by this stage the chances are that your intended new employer already has a few candidates lined up for it. Who they found a few months ago on Linkedin. Here are a few pointers on how to network optimally (without being annoying) on Linkedin:

  • Join groups related to your specific industry, but in the UAE
  • Add value to the discussions and groups you join. Don’t simply use the platform to for shameless self-promotion!
  • Make sure your profile is tweaked to make you most attractive to employers in the UAE. This is your virtual CV, remember
  • Personalise your message when you invite people to connect on Linkedin. Give them a reason to connect with you, or a reason to message you back
  • Spend a little time every day doing something meaningful on Linkedin. Don’t just post links lazily or invite people to connect willy-nilly

Experts on networking

  • Many people make the mistake of networking just to market themselves for an immediate opportunity or to be referred to a company hiring at the present time. Effective networking is a long term give-and-take process that puts you on the inside track in the area that interests you and establishes you in the running for any attractive position that comes up in the future – Employment expert in Dubai
  • People add me on Linkedin, then I get inundated with CVs - which all get deleted and thrown in the bin, because A) I'm not in a position to be able to hire people, B) they're applying for positions that don’t actually exist in our company, and C) they're so badly written, I wouldn't even give it a second glance! – Employer based in the UAE

Search and apply for jobs online

Our expats rate the following sites for job hunting in the UAE:

The other way to search for opportunities is to look up prospective employers first in the Dubai Yellow Pages which you can access online. From there, make a list of contacts and send out prospective CVs and covering letters, tailoring each very carefully to the company you’re writing to.

Advice from a UAE recruitment consultant

One recruitment consultant based in the UAE advises that ‘sending a mass mailing of CVs and waiting for the companies to contact you is not a strategy’. They go on to say that the key to job hunting success is in the follow-up.

‘Follow up by phone to make sure the relevant manager has received your CV, follow up again to ask for a meeting, and follow up with notes regularly until you have received some form of a response.’ So the message is loud and clear here – be persistent!

Signing up with a recruitment agency is another way to seek work in the UAE, but if an agency asks you for money on any way then they are not legitimate or are acting illegally. All expats we spoke to warned new job seekers never to pay a recruitment agency to find you jobs. Some of them will ask for an 'admin fee', for example, but the advice here is loud and clear: don't pay.

Interviews

Lots of interviews set up in the UAE are arranged through friends or family connections, so if you’ve got it then you most certainly need to flaunt it. When you send over your CV to companies you have a connection within, always add that person as a reference somewhere obvious on the document as it may serve to job your interviewer’s memory when the times comes to shortlist a set of candidates.

Have you made it in the UAE already? How did you manage to secure your job? Drop us a comment below and let us know your top tips for success!