Most of us, if not all, go to the UAE on a visit visa in order to search for a job. And the majority of us have no guarantee of finding a satisfying job. It takes time to research and locate your ideal job post in UAE. If you are unemployed, make this task your full-time job; if you’re employed, set aside some time every day after work for your job search, after all, we’re all looking for the next best opportunity.

Speaking from experience, here are a few suggestions and tips I would like to share with you for a successful job hunting experience that helped me land a job in Dubai.

1. Know your market

UAE has a highly competitive job market, where the number of expatriates reached up to 83.5%. Due to the Emiratisation policy, first preference is given to local candidates followed by western and Arab citizens and lastly, western-educated candidates.

Asians are high in supply and low in demand, thus receiving comparatively lesser salaries. Therefore, it is strongly suggested to develop a competitive advantage, create strong linkages, and take calculated risks and informed decisions on the basis of market realities in order to qualify for any well-paid job in the UAE.

It is strongly recommended that one should secure employment before travelling to the UAE. Speculative visits are occasionally successful and rarely lead to an offer of employment unless you are extremely lucky or have good networks and contacts in preferred sector.

Therefore, it is highly suggested you start your job search from your own country, that too, at least one to three months before your planned visit. Most of the jobs, especially white collar jobs in the UAE, advertise at least 20 to 30 days before starting their screening, shortlisting, and interviewing process.

This way, you will be able to gauge your market potential. If you receive any kind of positive response, then it is suggested you move ahead otherwise do not take any risks. If you start applying after entering the UAE, you will be wasting at least 20 to 30 days out of your 30 to 90-days visit visa.

Narrow down your search with reference to sectors and potential positions that you want to apply for, which means look for those opportunities that match your core competencies, career goals, personal priorities, and experience to secure your targeted job within limited time and resources.

Research job opportunities and potential employers and create forward linkages besides continuously updating your knowledge, skills, and expertise. According to my observation and findings, it is highly likely to find a job in the education, healthcare, tourism, hospitality, logistics, export, construction, and retail sectors as these sectors are booming in the UAE.

While production, manufacturing and automotive sectors are showing sluggish sentiments, petroleum and petrochemicals, fishing, aluminium, cement, fertilisers, banking, commercial ship repair, construction materials, boat building, handicrafts and textiles are the major industries in the UAE. Therefore, pertinent professionals are suggested to take informed decisions accordingly.

2. How to apply

Prepare multiple impressive résumés and cover letters. Chronological, functional and combined résumé formats are acceptable in the UAE. It is suggested that you state your name, contact number, email and postal address (in case of being in the UAE) along with your passport-sized picture at the top of your résumé. Your personal information, for instance, nationality, date of birth, passport number, visa status and if you own a driving license, should be included at the bottom of your résumé.

While applying from your home country, mention your UAE-based friend’s or relative’s contact numbers with their due consent so that the employer can contact you via this number. When you reach the UAE, buy your own SIM and update your contact information accordingly.

Make sure the recruitment agency and HR personnel you’re dealing with are legitimate and not demanding any kind of fee for giving you a job. Many of these hiring companies and HR personnel are a scam, promising to submit your résumé to prospective employers or give you a job, thus fleecing the job hunter. They are well aware that visitors will leave the country within a short span of time and will not be able to claim a refund or report any malpractice. Therefore, please be cautious.

Before applying for a visa, confirm whether it is extendable or not. Since January 1, 2015, the UAE government has scraped the visit visa extension policy. One can get a non-expendable visit visa for one month to three months at the cost of AED800 and AED2,100 respectively.

3. What you need to apply

Initially, it is very difficult to land a job in the UAE. Therefore, it is suggested not to expect high salaries. If one receives an offer which matches up to their current salary along with accommodation and transportation, then he/she should accept the offer as it is easy to jump from one opportunity to another after getting experience in the local market, especially for well-qualified and competent individuals who have a better chance. There is no ban for skipping from job to job before the end of a contract according to the Free Zones or government organisations in the UAE.

If you are visiting the UAE on a visit visa, it is suggested one keeps around AED2,000 with themselves to show the airport authorities that you have enough money to finance your visit. A lot of people have said they were not allowed to depart from Pakistan if they had less than the mentioned amount, though the authorities do not ask for financial proof all the time. At least I myself have not been asked by authorities at the airport, the only question I was asked by the immigration officers was why I was visiting the country.

My suggestion is to dress smartly, keep the specified amount with yourself and definitely not mention the fact you are going to look for a job. Instead, tell them you are visiting for recreational purposes.

According to the latest survey by Jobs Portal and, 41.5% of responding companies in the Middle East and North African region always research new hires online before hiring. In some of the online job application forms, a considerable number of organisations seek web addresses of your social networks and LinkedIn profile to assess your candidacy with reference to the given job and their corporate culture. Therefore, increase your online visibility, manage your online reputation and try to build your unique online brand and put forth a positive image.

Read up on the living and working conditions in Dubai and make arrangements accordingly. On an average, it costs approximately AED500 to 800 for housing, AED300 to 600 for food and AED400 to 700 for transportation and communication for one month. Due to such steep costs, it’s important to learn about benefits offered by employers, whether accommodation, transportation, and return tickets are included in the package. These things can eat up a large part of your salary if you have to pay for them yourself.

In today’s job market, one’s references and network determines your net worth, as you can tap into the ‘hidden’ job market by maximising your existing network along with developing a list of contacts through friends, family, former co-workers and your social institutions or alumni.

4. Social media should be your new best friend

Create a profile on LinkedIn and update its status regularly. Create ‘Job Wanted’ ads on job sites like and share the same on LinkedIn and other social media forums and professional circles. Reach out to the people in your network and speak to them, ask them for advice, helpful information regarding jobs, and job leads. Prepare your own pitch by describing who you are, your background, and what you are specifically looking for from the person you are contacting.

The most effective and recommended tools for job hunting in the UAE are network and references, followed by online job sites like,,,,,,,Gulf News ClassifiedsKhaleej Times, and LinkedIn besides official websites of potential companies in the UAE.

One can also apply by visiting offices of all the potential employers and companies. Jebel Ali Free Zone, Sharjah industrial area, Dubai Financial Centre, Dubai Textile City, Education City etc. are suggested for dropping your resume by hand for low cadre positions only.

The most time-tested and effective technique for job hunting in the UAE is to apply for matching positions through online job portals, Google search and company websites and then follow-up through phone calls. One call after submitting the application is enough in order to let the hiring manager know that you have applied for the given position and to tell him/her that you are perfectly competent and eligible for the position. If they don’t give you a chance to discuss this at that point in time, then wait for the closing date of the job advertisement and follow-up just after the closing date and request them to give you the chance on the basis of your competence.

Through this, you will maximise your opportunity to appear for an interview. Therefore, the most important point is to be prepared and stay updated on your core competencies and skills in order to pass the test or interview.

Always keep a record of all the jobs you have applied for, including Terms of References of vacancies where you have the most chances of being shortlisted for your easy reference, tracking progress, and further follow-up.

Keep up to date with the news in your chosen industry, keep reviewing and fine-tuning your resume and keep on trying without losing heart. Eventually, opportunities come to those who dare to take risks and constantly prepare to avail them when they arise.

Hope these tips help and good luck to all the job hunters out there!

Fida Karim

He is a freelance Research Economist cum Project Control Specialist having special interest in youth-centric socio-economic issues, international development and political economy. He tweets as @FidaKarimHunzai (

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