Looking for a job in Dubai? After a rough 2016, things are looking up. According to LinkedIn’s “Middle East and North Africa Recruiting Trends 2017” report, Dubai’s business will see new hires as a focus for 2017.
As far as the most sought after skills are concerned, the same report listed statistical analysis, data mining, public policy, international relations, algorithm design, web architecture, SEO/SEM marketing and UI design among the top qualifications for those seeking employment in Dubai.
So, if you’re ready to jump into Dubai’s budding job market, where should you start? This guide will run you through the most important steps and information, including visas, sponsorship, where to look for jobs and interview tips.
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Now, back to what you came here to read.
If you’re planning to work in Dubai, you’ll need a work visa. The good news is, if you’re employed by a Dubai company, they’re pretty easy to obtain.
Because a work visa is required, it’s easiest to head to Dubai after you’ve been offered a position. That being said, it’s possible to enter the emirate on a visitor or tourist visa for your job search and then transfer your visa status once you’ve found employment.
Most visitors to Dubai aren’t required to obtain a visa ahead of time; one will be issued to you upon arrival.
Job seekers from the following countries are allowed to remain in the UAE for 90 days after their arrival before leaving the country or applying for a work visa:
- Czech Republic
Citizens from the following countries also don’t need to get visas in advance, however visas issued on arrival will only be good for 30 days. That being said, citizens of these countries may extend their visas up to 60 days:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States
- The Vatican
While these tourist visas are a good way to enter the country in order to perform your job search, it’s critical that you either get a work visa, provided you find employment, or leave the country when your visa expires. If you’re caught working on a tourist visa you can be jailed or fined and deported.
The good news is, once you find a job, the visa process is largely out of our hands. Outside of having to provide your employer with some documents, like your passport number, they’ll take care of the entire sponsorship and visa process for you. The not so great news is, your job isn’t entirely done.
While your work visa is being processed, you’ll need to submit your medical records, passport copies, photo, job offer letter and visa application to the Department of Health and Medical Services. You’ll also have to get a blood test to rule out diseases like HIV, Hepatitis C and tuberculosis. At the moment, the UAE doesn’t allow foreign carriers of those diseases to reside in the emirates. Once you pass all the tests you’ll be issued a health card, which is mandatory for foreign workers in Dubai.
You’ll also need a labor card which involves sending your passport photo, employment contract, entry visa, medical records and your employer’s labor licence to the Ministry of Labor.
Finally, you’ll need a residence visa, which is issued by Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. You’ll need to go in person, where you’ll fill out a form, provide your passport, medical records, health certificate, original entry permit, passport photos, a copy of your labor card and the receipt from your labor card processing.
And that’s it! With your work visa, health card, labor card, and residence visa in hand, you’re all set to legally start working in Dubai.
While the emirate’s overall financial health becoming stable, not all job markets are ready to bounce back. That being said, there are some areas that are expecting to blossom in preparation for Dubai’s hosting duties at expo 2020. Some markets where job-seekers might find success include:
Many of the above sectors are performing so well that salaries are expected to continue to rise. LinkedIn’s MENA Recruiting Trends 2017 report goes into further detail, noting that job-seekers looking to take on the following roles within those sectors have the best chances of finding employment in Dubai :
- Business Development
There are some companies that are well known in Dubai for their rigorous hiring and excellent standing as places to work. The top 10 of those businesses include retail chains THE One, Splash, Estee Lauder and Hilti Emirates, media giant Omnicom, IT specialists EMC², Hilton Worldwide, Weber Shandwick Professional services and FedEx.
To get a better idea of what companies are hiring in Dubai, bayt.com, a favorite among Dubai job-seekers, is a good place to start.
Some other good sites for finding jobs and internships include:
- Dubai Task
- Khaleej Times Jobs
- Efinancial Careers
Some great sites that are specific to finding internships include:
Many Dubai businesses hire through headhunters. Working with an agency is very common, and is still the best way to procure a job within the emirate. Some of the best reviewed agencies include:
- Jivaro Partners (marketing & communications jobs)
- ESP International (conferences, events, hospitality)
- MCG & Associates (PR, publishing, marketing & communications jobs)
- Robbert Murray (development, construction, engineering & public sector jobs)
- BAC Middle East (engineering, marketing & management jobs)
If decide to work through an agency, look for companies that take commission on the employer’s end, not yours. Be wary of recruiters that collect high fees from job-seekers: these tend to be scams.
The single most important tool in your job search will be your CV.
Dubai’s job market is extremely competitive, and on average a recruiter will only spend six seconds checking out your resume. It’s important to avoid major CV pitfalls, like using buzzwords. “I’d rather see applicants present themselves in a more unique way, supported with facts such as targets realised, projects worked on, among others,” said Annalinde Nickisch of The Thought Factory in a recent interview with The Gulf News. Monster offers a great resource for CV tips and advice for those looking for a little more help.
Dubai is known for hiring internally and among employee-referenced candidates. If you know someone inside the company, you’re up to 6.6% more likely to land the job. If you can’t get to Dubai for networking events, you can still network. Not only are there plenty of online communities and social media networks, you can also find specific “online job fairs” to help with the “who-you-know.”
Craft your online persona. If a recruiter Googles you and only finds your old MySpace pictures, you’re unlikely to find a job. Not only should your social media networks be professionally tailored or made private, but you should also boost your SEO by creating an online resume, filling out job seeker profiles on websites like LinkedIn and Bayt, and publishing and sharing material relevant to the industry in which you’re seeking a job. The more experienced you seem in a google search, the more likely you are to stand out from the pack.
Don’t apply for jobs you’re not qualified for. Just because you’re excited about a company doesn’t mean you should apply to jobs that aren’t a good fit for your skills. Not only do these applications not typically result in a “way in,” hiring managers tend to see scattered applications as a sign of a candidate who doesn’t know what they want and lacks direction.
Be patient. It takes time to find a job anywhere in the world, but Dubai’s job market is particularly competitive. On top of the talent saturation, hiring in Dubai tends to be seasonal, meaning most recruitment takes place from January to March and almost completely stalls during the holy month of Ramadan and the hottest months of the summer. It’s not uncommon for your job search to take six months to a year-- so hang in there!