How This Accountant Found a Job in Dubai Within 14 days (And How You Can Too!)

The Finance Story

  • Are you a qualified CA or semi-qualified Accountant and thinking of moving to the UAE?
  • In fact: In this article, Bharat Sharma, a Part-Qualified Chartered Accountant from India, provides an in-depth insight on how to find finance job opportunities in Dubai for Accountants moving to the UAE.
  • Presently Bharat works in the Accounts team of a well-known organization in Dubai and is pursuing CPA (USA).

My Journey Moving from India to Dubai

Before I decided to move from India to Dubai, I was working as an Assistant Manager- Accounts and Finance, in a corporate organization in Mumbai.

I was pursuing a Chartered Accountant degree, but after multiple attempts, I still did not clear my CA Final exams.

To become a qualified Chartered Accountant from ICAI, India, one has to clear- 3 levels of exams (CPT, IPCC, CA Finals) plus 3 years of articleship. I had cleared the first two levels – CPT and IPCC. I had also completed my 3 years of articleship at a Chartered Accounting firm in Mumbai. My only hurdle was – Clearing CA Final exams and I just kept failing the exams after multiple attempts.

I am a hardworking and efficient person, but in this case, my hard work wasn’t paying off. I always got stuck and kept failing the exams by a few marks. That was when I decided to quit pursuing CA.

Do I regret quitting CA? No. I had had enough of it and wanted to move on. Most of all, I was optimistic that even if I was not a fully qualified Chartered Accountant, I would succeed in life.

There are many alternative ways of becoming successful in your finance career, apart from being a Chartered Accountant.

Now, I did not clear any group in CA Final (CA Final has 2 groups) so the motivation to complete my CA was no longer there. My advice to students in a similar situation is:

  1. To try to clear your CA Final exams—especially if you have cleared one group or have an exemption. Do not give up.
  2. But if you try and it doesn’t work out for you, then shift your focus to some other things.

What's Next After Quitting Chartered Accountancy?

Just like every other young person, I had always wanted to work in a good company. However, the fact that I did not have a Chartered Accounting degree was a great stumbling block for me.

While still in Mumbai (India), I applied to so many MNCs for a job but I was not called for interviews just because I was not a ‘qualified’ Chartered Accountant.

Each time I applied for a job at any of those reputable companies they always gave me the same response- ‘You lack in the requisite qualification’.

I was not even given a chance to prove myself. It was heart-wrenching because I was good at my job and I knew everything that a qualified Chartered Accountant should know. I had cleared two levels and also had done 3 years of articleship.

That's when I realized that I either had to get back to studying for CA again or pursue another professional qualification or maybe even pursue an MBA.

Going for an MBA seemed more probable, but on second thought, that meant investing two years of studying. I had already invested so much of my time pursuing CA and did not want to repeat the same mistake. I did not want to do a part-time MBA because I thought that it might not add much value.

Luckily, I met a friend who was pursuing CPA (USA). I asked him about the job and monetary scope of this qualification and he gave me a very positive review.

I went home and did my own research and realized that nowadays a lot of US companies in India are looking for CPAs from AICPA. 

CPA (USA) isn’t so advantageous in India. In fact, a qualified Chartered Accountant from ICAI has more job opportunities in India than someone with a CPA (USA). However, CPA (US) does have global recognition.

So, considering that CPA US is more of a global qualification, I decided to pursue a CPA from AICPA instead of an MBA.

Now, the only issue with CPA is; there are no centers in India to write the exams. The closest center to India is a few Middle Eastern countries. I decided to pursue CPA and take the exams in the Dubai (UAE) center...I did not know that I would soon be applying for jobs in the UAE and researching Indian CA salary in Dubai.

About CPA US Exams 

Here are some facts you may need to know about CPA:

  • There are four papers in CPAAudit, FAR, Tax, BEC (i.e Costing, FM, IT and Economics)and all four papers are compulsory. No exemption is available either to CA (ICAI) or CA Inter. I’m not sure about other professional bodies though. So kindly check if your professional body has an MoU with CPA (USA).
  • I enrolled with Miles CPA in Mumbai where I was guided through the whole process of CPA credits, classroom lectures,  notes, etc.
  • The Prometric tests for the CPA exams were earlier conducted only in a few selected countries (Not in India). Even though the tests were online, they required the Indian candidates to take the exam from the U.S.
  • However, there has been a steady increase in the number of Indian applicants in recent years. This compelled AICPA(The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) to allow Indian candidates to take the CPA exams from the Middle East Prometric centres.
  • Indian candidates can appear for the CPA exam in Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain.

Finding a Job in the UAE 

When I was about to come to Dubai to write my CPA exams, I got in touch with a friend, who’s a Chartered Accountant working in Dubai, UAE. He advised me against coming with a one-week visa, and instead, asked that I get a  three-month visa. So that after writing my CPA exams, I could start looking for Chartered Accountant jobs in Dubai.

I was skeptical at first, but my friend insisted, and kept assuring me that there were lots of Finance jobs even for semi-qualified CAs in the UAE. After much consideration, I decided to give it a shot. He gave me stepwise instructions about the entire process and I felt very positive about it.

The company I was working for in India was not ready to give me study leave to write my CPA exams, so I decided to quit my job and focus on my exams. Since I had no pressure from work, it was easy for me to decide to come on a 3-month visa and apply for CA jobs in UAE.

So I decided to apply for a 3-month visa and look for a finance/ accounting job opportunity in the UAE.

I never thought that I would have reasons to move to Dubai from India. My intention was to just come to Dubai to write my exams and go back home.

The intention of working out of India was never there and now here I was all ready to move to a new country on a three-month visa.

Some Important Things I Did Before Moving to Dubai from My Home Country

If you’re considering moving to Dubai from India or any other part of the world, you may have the mindset that you’d figure it out when you get there.  While this may be a positive way of thinking, you 'should' have a few things figured out before moving to the UAE.

You could have an amazing life in Dubai in a short time if you know what to do and how you’ll be living here. This is what I did BEFORE moving to Dubai:

  • Write a professional CV: A great resume should summarize and highlight your strengths, skills, and experiences in a way that grabs the attention of the recruiter. Therefore, invest a lot of time crafting a proper CV.
  • Take along all my certificates
  • Register on various job sites and upload my CV on various job portals
  • Book an Airbnb space to stay for a few days in Dubai (which I could later change for a bed space on Dubizzle).
  • Share my updated CV on all job portals in the UAE

 I did exactly the same and came to Dubai on Aug’18 on a 3-month visit visa.

After writing my CPA exams (I wrote 2 papers out of 4), I started looking for a job as recommended by my friend. I was looking out for CA fresher jobs in UAE because I felt I had gained a little more experience to give me an edge even as a Part/Semi qualified accountant.

Also Read

After Working in India for 8 years This Chartered Accountant Moved to Dubai (And How You Can Too!)

"Are There Job opportunities for Semi qualified Accountants in the UAE?"

If you’re a semi-qualified Accountant with at least 5 years of experience in Finance or Accounting (including articles), you’d stand a good chance of getting well-paying jobs in the UAE.

Semi Qualified CAs are also highly valued here. Why? Most companies in Dubai value your experience and your learnings as an article. So if you have good knowledge and can help the organization you will be selected.

If a Part (Semi) qualified Accountant has no plans of pursuing further education, you can still earn and do well in the UAE.

But, it’s important to remember that if you are a fully Qualified Accountant, you can obviously get better money and be more in demand. Of course, the qualified CAs salary in Dubai is higher.

"What is the Basic Salary in Dubai for Accountants?"

Usually, companies here pay way more than consulting firms or CA firms. But roughly these are the salary range:

  • For a fresher part qualified CA with a min of 3-4 years of experience (this experience includes articleship), the salary could be a min of AED 5K plus benefits.
  • If you have done your articleship from a big CA firm you can even expect AED 7-7.5K as a semi-qualified fresher.
  • There are many companies who even provide accommodation and food so in this case, they will offer a salary of say AED 3.5-4K only.
  • If you are a fully qualified CA you can expect a min of AED 8K plus benefits or even AED 10k if you are amazing in Finance or Accounting.
  • So it all depends on what you can bring to the table and how much value will you add to the company.
  • Once you have a min of 2 years of UAE experience and if you are good in Finance/ Accounting, your salary can almost double.

Usually, the employment visa is for 2 years/ 3years.

"How to Find a Job Once in Dubai?"

I was lucky that I had a CA friend who meticulously guided me step by step—from getting my CV done correctly, to getting interview calls coming in.

I followed all the instructions he gave me and found a job in the UAE within 14 days. Very quick, isn’t it?

There are the things he asked me to do:

1. Get a Local Sim Card and Update Details on all Job Sites

  • Firstly, get a local sim card.
  • Then update your local UAE number on all the job portals where you have uploaded your CV. From what I have observed, you will get an interview call only if you have a local number.
  • When you drop bulk emails to recruiters and online job portals, it takes at least one week for your CV to be circulated in the market.
  • I personally would recommend anyone to take the paid version of Gulf salary. However, the waiting period to register on this site can be up to 2-3 months sometimes. Note, however, that this site does give you a return on your investment. I did not register because I only got to know about it later.

2. Email various Recruiters

  • My friend gave me a list of recruiters
  • I used this data to segregate and send emails to various recruiters

3. Dress well and have confidence

  • In the UAE, the working conditions are a bit different from your home country.
  • Your appearance and command of the English language are very important.
  • Having a good command of English makes it easier to communicate with people from different nationalities (since UAE is a multi-cultural country with more than 100 nationalities). But again, that is not the only factor to get a job in the UAE.
  • If you are at an executive level, please do wear your formal blazer for the interview.

4. Do not over expect on the salary front

  • My friend told me not to expect too much on the salary front.
  • Being a fresher who is a semi-qualified Accountant, you will eventually get a good pay package but you have to accept the fact that when you start off it won’t be very fancy.
  • But, as I earlier noted, the salary of a qualified accountant in Dubai is always higher than that of a semi-qualified one.

5. Accommodation

  • You can always find good accommodation on dubizzle or you can use Airbnb for initial days after which you may decide to change your residence later.

Summary of How I Spent Each Day in Dubai Till I Found a Job

I came to Dubai on Aug’18. After writing my exams (2 CPA papers) I started considering the possibilities of securing accountant jobs in Dubai for newcomers, so I began looking for a job.

Below is the daily description of my job hunt:

Day 1: I was already armed with my CV. As I mentioned above, I had prepared my CV in India with a new and acceptable format for the Dubai market. My friend also approved it, so I felt it was ready for any CA job in UAE.

The day I arrived in Dubai, I got a sim card because I needed a local number.

I updated my local number on all the job portals where I had uploaded my CV.

After doing that, I started applying for various job opportunities in the UAE (not only in Dubai but other emirates as well)—as many CA fresher jobs in UAE as I could find.

Day 2: My friend had shared with me a list of email IDs of various recruiters and other corporate organizations.

I had also drafted an introductory email of myself and started sending bulk emails after carefully scrutinizing the email IDs. Many of the emails bounced back but what is more important is for you to circulate your CV in the job market.

I started to email all of them between 7.30 am and 8.00am. My intention was to ensure that my email would be on top of their other emails.

Day 3: Same process of sending bulk emails and applying on various job portals.

Day 4: I realized that I was not receiving any views on the job portals, so I decided to tweak my CV as per the job description and apply accordingly.

I did this knowing that job portals have software which matches words (ATS) and sentences to the job description and give a higher rating. For example, if you were applying for accountant jobs in Dubai for freshers, you might have to tweak your CV to match that particular job description. That will guarantee you a higher rating and get you more views on any of the job portals. That was a lot of work but I had to do it. I would recommend you do the same. I would recommend you include certain words of the job description in your CV.

Day 5: I got my first call for an interview in Ibn Battuta (that didn’t go well). The job market in Dubai was in a slow phase and I got my first jolt that my salary expectations were too high. I was sitting in an interview with 50 candidates with more UAE experience who were asking for a salary lesser than I was.

I realized that if I had salary expectations that were too high, I would have lesser chances of succeeding at getting a job. There were also candidates from Pakistan, Nepal, etc. whose currencies were less valuable than the Indian Rupee and because of this, they could quote a lower salary.

EXTRA TIP: Be wise on your expectations as this is one big filter for any fresher looking for a job in the UAE.

Take CA fresher jobs in UAE as an example, you shouldn’t quote high for a start. Nevertheless, as you spend more time there and gain more experience at the job, your salary will eventually get better.

Day 6: It was a weekend – so I kept a check on my emails and updated my CV on various job portals.

Day 7: It was a weekend. I did the same thing as the day before.

Day 8: Had an interview with a CA firm—proving that there are available jobs in CA firms in UAE.

Day 9: Had an interview with two corporates

Day 10: Second round with the two corporate and I took a written BS/MIS test with one of them.

Day 11: Same application process while waiting for a positive response

Day 12: Same application process while waiting for a positive response

Day 13: Second round with CA firm partner – rejected

Day 14: Got a confirmation call and email of selection from one of the corporate organizations

Another point I would like to make is: the applicant should do a thorough evaluation of the company he would like to join. You should know the sector you are applying to – consulting, construction industry, pharmaceuticals, etc.

I personally wanted to avoid construction companies due to a slowdown in the UAE. But that is not always the case. If the company is a reputable one you can consider it.

In Conclusion…

  • Networking is key
  • CV: The CV should be professionally made. You either get your CV professionally made or do it yourself if you can make it up to professional standards. But do not use the Indian CV format because here, the competition is so severe that recruiters do not waste time on an unorganized CV. Therefore, you have to take care of the appearance. Your CV should speak about you.
  • In the UAE, top corporates prefer candidates who have the following qualifications: Chartered Accountants, CPAs, and ACCA. So, if you’re a CA and wondering about job opportunities for CAs in UAE, they exist. Semi-qualified accountants are also in great demand. The best part about the UAE is that they have good respect for semi-qualified accountants. So do not hesitate to apply.
  • For interviews, dress formally and be very confident.
  • Get your educational certificates attested at the consulate. This will cost you an additional AED 500 if done in the UAE. If done in India, then INR 5000.
  • Hiring takes place throughout the year in the UAE but the best months for hiring is from Sept to April. So plan your travel accordingly.
  • Come on a 3-month visit visa. You need at least 15-days to 2 months to find a job in the UAE.
  • I got a job in 14 days from the day I started searching for a job after my exams so I can say I was lucky and well guided by my friend. Have someone to guide you through the process.
  • The average time period to get a job here is 15 days to 2 months so please ensure you are financially covered since it is a super expensive country. Minimum cash required for monthly expenses in Dubai is – food – 500, bed space – 700, Transport – 300, Miscellaneous – 250 i.e. Total 1750 AED.
  • Start uploading your CV on all job portals. I personally like Indeed and Gulf Salary.
  • Also, have a good LinkedIn profile. I haven’t tried a job search through LinkedIn but a lot of candidates are hired through LinkedIn in the UAE.
  • Also, there are a lot of other ways to distribute your CV—like bulk emails to recruiters, corporates, etc. So do your research and find your way.
  • Last but not least – Have a great attitude.

Do you have any questions for me?

Have you moved from your country to another country for better opportunities?

How did you find your foot, and what advice would you give people who’re seeking to leave their country in search of better career prospects?

If you have any questions about finding CA jobs in Dubai, moving from your country to the UAE or any of the topics discussed in this article, please feel free to ask.

I am here to help you. You can connect to Bharat over LinkedIn at –Bharat Sharma

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