I hope this article will not only be relevant to my finance and tax network but to anyone who is trying to secure a role in the UAE in all sectors
You need to find the job as opposed to the job finding you
Having been in the UAE for over 5 years now I can say with confidence that the job market here is different than anywhere else in the world. I was in London prior to moving to Dubai, where the recruitment market is very mature whilst in the UAE it's the complete opposite end of the scale, which can make trying to secure a role a lot more challenging.
A recent IBN networking event, a room full of people who could help a jobseeker potentially
Networking is key
If you are not visible you are simply invisible
For the most part, the UAE job market has an oversupply of candidates vs jobs. So if you don't stand out from the crowd it will be near on impossible to get an interview for a role. As you will simply just enter the black hole of 1000's of applicants for roles that are advertised on LinkedIn.
It's all about getting out there and making new connections as you never know where they may lead to. There are plenty of networking events happening in the UAE, you just need to try and work out what is the best one for you.
I would really suggest jobseekers to see if there are relevant business councils in the UAE. For example there is the Irish Business Network (IBN) and British Business Group (BBG) which I think are key to explore for any Irish or British national looking to get a role in the UAE. I would imagine there must be an equivalent for Indian, Pakistan & Lebanese nationals.
Further to this, if you are a finance professional look at your accounting body to see what events they do. ACCA, CPA, ACA & IMA all have a strong presence in the region and regularly host networking events. These events would have a room filled of finance professionals who may also be hiring managers.
You miss 100% of shots you don't take
So just try going to a networking event. I know it can sometimes seem daunting walking into a room full of strangers but you must remember everybody is in the same boat so just walk up a group of people, introduce yourself and away you go.
At Alchemy Search, we regularly host networking events so please take a look at our community page on our website to see if any look of interest to you.
If you are a HR/TA professional we will be hosting a networking event later in May so if interested feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
On the back of a Linkedin post last week it reached over 10k views. Even if interested or not, viewers will have seen Rutika is a specialist tax recruiter.
Build a personal brand on LinkedIn
Make LinkedIn your friend not your enemy
If you are jobseeker there are so many good things you can do on LinkedIn that may increase your chance of securing a role.
For example, during covid there was a senior finance professional who lost his job and things were looking pretty bleak as there wasn't much happening at the senior end of the market.
He took to LinkedIn and starting posting content that gained a lot of traction and built his brand in the market. I remember speaking to him and he was shocked initially by the following he was getting.
A few weeks later, we were chatting and he informed me that on the back of one of his posts he had 3 separate approaches from companies to see if he would be interested interviewing with them for a finance role in their respective companies.
Fortunately for him, he then secured a role and remains in this region. He would admit himself that he solely got back into employment by building a personal brand on LinkedIn.
Even if it's commenting/liking somebody's LinkedIn post or just simply engaging with another professional within your space. What's the worst that could happen!
As a company may not be hiring today but could be tomorrow. LinkedIn is effectively a candidates personal shop window. So make sure potential hiring managers see your shop window on a weekly basis as then when they want to hire they may remember you!
For any golfer in my network who fancies a round at Dubai Hills please connect with Jeff as he is the Alchemy golf pro.
Interview as much as possible
If you have relocated to the UAE and are immediately available i.e. have time on your hands then go to as many interviews as you can.
- For the most part, an interview is just you and another person sitting in a room for an hour having a chat to decide if you can do a job without actually showing the other person you can do the job. A crazy concept when you think about it. The more interview practice you have the more confident (not cocky) you should become, the more confident you are the better you will come across to the interviewer which in turn will increase your chances of securing the role.
- I would say 75% of our clients in the UAE I had never heard of before moving here. So you have no clue which ones are good or bad. The big point I feel people sometimes miss here is to get fixated on a joining a big company when they should really be fixated on joining a team with a manager who is going to develop them in their career. What's the point in joining a big global brand when your boss doesn't want to develop you or treats your poorly (not to say this is the case in all big companies!) as opposed to joining a business which you never heard of but when you met the hiring manager things just clicked and you left the interview a lot more interested in the role. Whilst, if you had just said no to the interview nothing would have happened. Especially for junior to mid level professionals I actually think the biggest factor in joining the company should be weighted on who is going to be your boss.
- Finally, the more interviews you have on the go will mean you may receive more offers which means you will not be at the mercy of a company "lowballing" you when it comes to the offer stage. As this culture of companies lowballing candidates is unfortunately very common in the UAE. So be selfish and think about number 1 only, as given how fragile labor law is here companies will always look out for their best interests, so do your best to safeguard your best interests and not theirs. If I have a candidate at offer stage and he/she has nothing else on the go vs a candidate who is at offer stage and has two other offers in hands I can bet my house that if the client really wants to secure the candidate, the one with a few offers in hand will get the best offer from the client. If you have more than one option it will result in getting what's best for you as opposed to taking a role because you have no other option.
Jeff will be organzing a beginners Padel tennis networking event in the coming weeks so please connect with him if interested
Connect with a specialist recruiter
My current view on the UAE job market is that it's trickier than ever before.
- There was so much hiring done in the last 12/18 months that there isn't the same levels of hiring happening from what I can see.
- Given so many people have found employment they are not actively looking for a new role so it means there isn't as much replacement hiring happening
- Given how much uncertainty there has been in the last few years candidates want stability and will only move to another role if they get a strong offer of say 15 - 25% uplift. However given that some companies are still treating "offer stage" like they did during covid times i.e. lowballing candidates then good candidates will simply stay put.
- It's very easy for a company to hire somebody directly when the majority of the market is out of work and will express interest in any job. Now that the market is at the other end in my opinion it's going to be harder for direct hiring and unfortunately given the levels of hiring aren't the same as before talent acquisition positions are most likely not to be in such high demand which means when companies do need to hire then they may need assistance from a recruitment agency.
Identify a specialist recruiter in your field. All the big agencies like Robert Walters, Cooper Fitch etc. will have dedicated teams that solely focus on Finance, Sales, IT & Legal for example. Then you will have boutiques like us that will be solely focused on one or two verticals like how we solely focus on Finance & Tax.
So try to connect with the right people in these agencies. If you can, try and meet the recruitment consultant in person as it's very hard for the recruiter to sell his/her product i.e. a candidate to a client if the recruiter doesn't know what it looks like or how it acts! DISCLAIMER - I fully appreciate it can also be difficult to get hold of recruiters at times (myself included!)
The UAE is so multicultural and in essence our job is just professional matchmaking. If we meet a candidate we can really see what type of hiring manager may like him/her.
So in conclusion, I hope some of the above pointers will help jobseekers in the search for their next role. If there are any other topics you would like me to cover going forward please let me know as I am happy to help.
Our run club will soon be coming to a close with the incoming hot weather but will resume later in the year