Dubai has long been recognised as a great place to get on the career ladder, presenting opportunities that many people may not have access to in other major cities. And this year in particular looks set to be full of prospects for anyone looking to get a foot in the door, move up or even decide it’s time to follow their dreams in another direction. More than two thirds of companies plan to hire new staff in 2013, according to a survey by Middle Eastern job site Bayt.com, with these figures described by a spokesperson for the site as ‘a clear improvement’ and a ‘positive sign for the UAE’s economy’.
So why is now the time to start putting plans into action? ‘There is a breadth of opportunity across the board,’ explains Sue Brett, strategic development director at Eton Institute. ‘Companies are going back out into the marketplace and pulling in more resources. Compared with other countries, there is greater opportunity in Dubai for people to apply their core skills in different areas and industries.’
Brett believes the skill sets that are most in demand at the moment remain finance and marketing, while Bayt’s survey found that large multinational firms are likely to be doing the most hiring, specifically for entry-level positions – good news for first-time job seekers and those looking to change career paths.
Dubai is a busy city, and it’s getting even busier, which can only mean greater competition in the job market. The population has grown by five percent in the past year, taking the number of residents in the city to an estimated 2.1 million. Whatever your industry, Brett is adamant that IT skills are essential in today’s world: they are now a ‘non-negotiable’ skill that prospective employees must have, even compared to perhaps five years ago. Yet she says there are certain extras that people can do to stand out.
‘Corporate personal development is really important, and there is so much affordable training in Dubai, from an individual and corporate perspective. If you say you are interested in a certain arena, you need to show on your CV that you’ve explored it and attempted some training in that area,’ she explains. She encourages people to think about what skills will complement those they already have, and explore hobby-related courses, as well as job-specific training.
This approach is backed up by Jonathan Warmington, a senior consultant at recruitment firm The Footprint Group. ‘While degrees are important, they tend to be industry specific. When you’re looking for the next step in your career, you should be looking for courses that make you stand out in addition to your degree. These could be courses such as Arabic for business, cultural awareness, health and safety, first aid in the workplace… If you’re looking to make that jump into a managerial position, try supervision, performance appraisal courses or MBAs.’
With most candidates today highly educated, it’s the little things on your CV that set you apart. ‘Think internships, volunteering, highlighting areas where you have truly added value to your employer,’ Warmington says. ‘But the golden rule remains: whatever you put on your CV, make sure you can back it up when questioned in the interview.’
These days, most people tend to stay in their current role for shorter periods of time, usually two to three years, though alarm bells will start ringing for an interviewer if you’ve only been in your present position for six months. That said, both Brett and Warmington agree that Dubai is a great place to change jobs. ‘It’s not easy, but the market here is more receptive to these kind of moves,’ says Warmington. Brett adds: ‘As long as you can show you have potential and skills you can bring to the job, you’re still in with a chance.’
Warmington advises people do ‘what Dubai does best’ and get networking. ‘Go to relevant business social groups, volunteer at sporting or musical events – you will be surprised by who else attends. Join groups such as Dubai Round Table, where not only do you get to give something back to the community, but also network with industry leaders.’
In all, the message is to use your time in Dubai wisely. Brett is keen to underline the number of opportunities available in the city that will benefit you in the long term, and the experiences you will take with you wherever you go. ‘There are people moving out here, but there is a flow going back too as a result of those great skills and opportunities they’ve found here,’ she explains. ‘People think they will stand out in their home markets now.’ This year is the perfect time to re-evaluate your career and get on the path to your dream job. Get networking, get developing, and make sure you’re on 2013’s ‘must-hire’ list.
How to avoid recruitment scams
In recent weeks, some jobseekers in Dubai have found themselves victims of scams, tricked into handing over cash for interview training or non-existent fees. UAE Labour Law states that jobseekers cannot be charged a recruitment fee, so the first warning bell is if any company asks for any money upfront. Employers are always the ones charged, not candidates.
Smart tips for a good first impression
Eton Institute’s Sue Brett reveals how to get off to a good start during a job interview in Dubai.
‘Local customs dictate that women shouldn’t shake hands with a man unless the man offers his hand first. If you’re a man being interviewed by a woman, wait until a handshake is offered.’
‘It’s advisable to wear conservative business attire. That means a suit and tie for men. Women should have their knees and shoulders covered.’
‘Avoid pointing the sole of your shoe towards people – in Arabic culture this is highly offensive.’
Nicola Tanner offers expert guidance and a career programme for teens called FutureSurfing.
Authenticity Coaching & Consultancy, Al Barsha, www.authenticity.ae (04 399 0008).
Spearhead Training runs courses in body language, assertiveness, stress management, leadership and more.
Oud Metha, www.spearhead-training.com (04 336 2552).