Here's an in-depth expat guide on how to find job vacancies, apply for jobs, and prepare for interviews in Dubai.
27 August 2013| Last updated on 7 June 2021
How do you get a job in Dubai as a foreigner? Read our expat guide to find out.
If you’re a fresh graduate living in Dubai or an experienced professional wanting to find employment and relocate to the United Arab Emirates, ExpatWoman has put together a guide to help you find the job that is suited to your particular needs.
Dubai is a vibrant city with many employment opportunities, however the recruitment process is different to that of western countries and understanding it will make your job search a lot simpler.
The most important thing to remember when looking for job opportunities in Dubai is that you are selling yourself to the employer; therefore you have to make yourself a valuable asset that will be an important addition to their company.
Finding a job in Dubai
There are four main approaches to finding a job in Dubai and all four depend on the kind of job that you are qualified to do.
1. Companies' websites
A lot of companies have a careers section on their website. This is the first thing that you should look for when searching for a job as the positions available are listed here as well as requirements and application processes.
This refines your search and minimizes the risk of job scams.
You can also find all the information regarding the job and contact the companies directly (cold calling).
Whenever you meet a person you are networking, and creating a network of people that you know could get you hired.
Do not always look outside your circle when looking for a new position, a person that you already know could be an asset when you are looking for employment. They could be someone that works for the company that you are interested in who can get you the relevant phone number or email address of the person that is in charge of recruiting, or they could pass your CV onto the relevant person and put in a good word on your behalf.
3. Cold calling
Find out the name of the company and the relevant telephone numbers, be assertive and stand your ground when calling them. Ask to speak to the hiring manager. Be friendly but firm and do not let the person on the other end of the line intimidate you.
Cold calling is a daunting task, and may not as effective of a method these days, but it is worth a try. Many do not take this initiative and it will give you the perfect opportunity to make a sales pitch and an impression on the person hiring. You will be remembered when your CV lands in their inbox.
4. Recruitment agencies
Companies hire recruitment agencies to find the most qualified candidates for the employment position that they require. These are more often than not high end jobs offering management and executive positions. The agency then narrows down a list of candidates for the company accordingly.
Beware of job scams in Dubai, just because the city is relatively crime free does not ensure that scam artists are not taking advantage of people. It is illegal for a recruitment agency to ask you to pay a monetary fee.
Recruitment agents are hired by companies and never by individuals. It is their job to sell you to the company, not to sell the company to you. There are many ways that these scam operations can fool even the most educated job candidates.
Do not fall into the trap of paying for anything during the recruitment process.
The interview preparation
Once you have finished the application process, all you can do is wait to be called to an interview.
What to bring to a job interview in Dubai
Some companies might send you an itinerary of what you need for the interview and you should follow that list as closely as possible. It always makes a good impression when you come to an interview prepared.
If the company has just invited you for an interview without any additional requirements, please bring a hard copy of your CV. You may also want to bring in any letters of recommendation from previous employers. Make sure that all your hard documents are well presented with no creases or stains. Have your documents in a folder as carrying them loosely makes you seem messy and unprepared.
What to wear to a job interview in Dubai
Decide what you are going to wear the night before. This will relieve you of a lot of stress on the morning of the interview.
Dubai is a conservative city with strict laws regarding the way that you dress. If you are going to wear a business suit with a skirt make sure that it is modest and conservative and that it doesn’t ride up when you sit down. Your knees and shoulders should remain covered throughout the interview.
Check your outfit for any stains that may have gone unnoticed and make sure that there are no scuff marks on your shoes. It important to make sure that your job interview outfit is well ironed.
Take care that your nails are manicured, do them the night before and let them dry properly. Interviewers notice small details and something as insignificant as a chipped nail could put them off.
When you are getting ready for your interview make sure that you put your hair up if it is long. We also advice styling your hair if you wish to wear it open and loose. Factors such as the wind may make it look fly away and it is your goal to seem well put together and professional. Also make sure that you wear non-heavy makeup to your interview.
In Dubai, how you look is extremely important especially when looking for a job.
If you are a smoker, do not smoke before the interview as the smell of cigarette smoke lingers and it has become a hateful habit for some, it could lessen your chances of getting the job.
Make sure that you are not chewing gum; it is a habit that annoys people immensely.
Be aware of your body odour! Dubai is a hot city and even the shortest walk from the car park to the office building in fifty degree heat can trigger the sweat glands, especially if you are nervous.
Carry a good anti perspirant in your handbag. By the same token do not wear overpowering perfume, you may love the sweet smell but your future employer may not. Alternatively, consider arriving early and changing into your business suit before the interview.
Arrive early. This will show the employer that you are well prepared and interested in the position. It will also give you a chance to see what the atmosphere in the office is like and allow you to calm your nerves.
Be ready to sell yourself, essentially the company is interested in paying for the services that you offer so make sure that yours are the best, most efficient and will improve the overall performance of the company. Do not be too modest, an interview gives the employer a chance to get to know your personality so show him your best sides.
After the job interview
You may be excited once you receive the job offer, but do not allow your excitement to cloud your judgment. There are still some important steps to take to ensure that everything is done according to the standards set by the Ministry of Labour in the United Arab Emirates. Before signing the contract, ensure that you have read and understood it.
Now is the time for salary negotiations, you can research average salaries for the particular field for which you are being hired and make the negotiations accordingly.
Do please note that there is no minimum wage standard in Dubai and some salaries are adjusted according to your skills and languages spoken. In the UAE, knowing Arabic or a second language relevant to your industry is always a plus.
It is illegal for an employer to ask you for any money with regards to visas, they are financially responsible for your residency visa or work permit. Do not give anyone any money for the opportunity to get a job as this is neither a legal nor is it a common practice.
Remember if you have any questions about living in Dubai or with regards to different companies here do not hesitate to post on the ExpatWoman forum as the ladies there are residents in the Middle East and have been through the process of moving here and finding a job. Best of luck!