Networking in Dubai

With unemployment in Dubai set to remain high, the city’s Pink Slip parties, a global recession trend, could be the hottest ticket in town

Area Guides
Area Guides
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We’ve heard differing accounts of Pink Slip parties across the globe. In Chicago, they’re made out to be super-slick events where the canapés and cocktails make redundancy feel like you’ve joined a hip new club. Whereas in Tokyo, tales of once-minted businessmen staring forlornly into empty champagne glasses, the surrounding shindig reminding them of what they’ve lost, are more the norm. Still, the parties are a global phenomenon, having started life in the US and making it all the way to cities as far-flung as Bangalore and, now, Dubai.

Named after the official notification given to employees in the US whose jobs are under threat, Pink Slip parties invite the recently redundant to mingle with recruiters and employers in a trendy-but-casual atmosphere. Job-hunters are identified by pink name tags, while job-offerers wear a different colour (in Dubai it’s blue). It’s a little like speed dating, with potential partners cutting to the chase about what they want from a ‘relationship’, and swiftly moving on if they’re not suited. And while it may not sound conducive to a happening party, some would say it’s a necessary part of job-hunting, with unemployment looking likely to remain high in Dubai in 2010.

Matthew Lewis, managing director of recruitment firm Correlate Search, tells Time Out: ‘A lot of firms are still not confident enough to be hiring in the first half of the year, and the concern is that this will drag into the summer.’ The International Labour Organisation’s forecast confirms the same for the rest of the globe.

Lourda Sexton, founder of Pink Slip Dubai, says that while the party itself may be akin to speed dating, the process of finding a job through Pink Slip is more of a slow burn. ‘Really it’s about relationship building,’ she says. ‘It’s a way of getting good access to and building relationships with recruiters, rather than just putting your CV online, which is very impersonal. I find that networking events work much, much better, especially in this region.’

Lewis, the recruiter, agrees. ‘You can’t rely on recruitment advertising and applying online here,’ he says. ‘Most people are finding jobs through networking. You remember people more than you remember CVs.’ He’s keen to point out that the likelihood of a perfectly suited candidate and employer meeting at a Pink Slip party is not great, but maintains that the slower process of making connections and following up afterwards yields results. ‘At one event, two ladies were complaining about the lack of good PA jobs in banks. Another lady across the room wanted a PA job in construction and was saying that all the PA jobs she came across were in banks. So I said to the first two women, “Go and talk to her, she knows!” And if I was looking to fill a PA position in a bank a couple of weeks later, I’d remember that conversation.’

One Pink Slip partygoer, who has asked not to be named, agrees that simply being able to share information and strategies with fellow job-seekers is useful. (She went to a Pink Slip party because she knew the company she worked for wasn’t doing well. ‘I could feel what was going to happen,’ she says. Sure enough, she was laid off soon afterwards.) However, she does complain that there aren’t enough employers and recruiters at the parties. You can imagine how this could affect the already downhearted, crammed into a room full of people clamouring to grab the few opportunities available. Still, Sexton counters that it helps just to find out what recruiters are looking for. She even invited a career coach to one party, who helped to point guests down the right avenues for returning to employment.

And despite our anonymous partygoer’s criticism, she has some good news to share about the party she went to. ‘I was approached by someone at a research company, and I’ve had two interviews with that company since,’ she says. ‘I’ll find out if I’ve got it this week.’ So it seems that, in some instances at least, Pink Slip parties work. Fingers crossed.

Pink Slip parties take place in Dubai every month. Admission is Dhs100. To be invited to the next Pink Slip party and for details of the next event, visit www.pinkslipdubai.com.

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