Are you in your 30s and looking to start all over in the UAE? Tips to plan your move and find relevant job opportunities

Job searching for Mid-level Finance Professionals in UAE

  • Moving to the UAE in the middle of your career can be a daunting prospect. 
  • Usually in the UAE, they don’t recognize foreign work experience that much, resulting in a salary cut.
  • But where there’s a will, there is a way. Here are some job-search tips for Middle-level Finance Professionals.

Instances of professionals who relocated to the UAE without securing a job in advance

CA Yogesh Lakhani was working in Manila, Philippines as a financial controller when he considered exploring UAE for more career opportunities. 

But since he had over 15 years of experience and was giving up a senior role to start all over in Dubai multiple aspects had to be considered. 

“Companies in the UAE, don’t recognize foreign work experience that much, resulting in a salary cut. But I was up for it and took a calculated risk. I knew eventually I would bounce back. With a positive mindset, I landed in Dubai in 2019 on a 90-day visa... with no job offer in hand but with certainty that I would land one in three months if not earlier!” says Yogesh.

After spending 10 hours a day on the job search, he finally received five job offers after 31 days. 

Yogesh joined HLB HAMT as a Manager for Accounts & Advisory, which is part of a global network of independent advisory and accounting firms headquartered in the UK.

“It was definitely a step down from my Finacial Controller role, but I had to start somewhere.

Probably If I would've moved to Dubai right after I had qualified in 2008, I probably would be in a different position altogether, financially and professionally.

That said, it is never too late to change your mind and explore different avenues,” concluded Yogesh. 

It’s on a case–by–case basis. We can never tell anyone to join on a pay cut. But if you are desperate for that role, enjoy what they are doing and believe (after due diligence) you will land a better offer in a year or so, max two. Make the move. 

Also Read

What industries are hiring the most finance professionals in UAE? Financial Recruiter says Consultancy, and Oil & Gas industries among others are going to hire heavily in 2023.

Effective job searching tips for mid-level finance professionals seeking opportunities in the UAE

Moving to the UAE at an early age is always more rewarding, both in terms of job positions and remuneration. 

When we spoke to Conor McHugh, Founder of Alchemy Search, a specialist in financial recruitment in the UAE on whether senior folks should pack their bags and move this is what he said,

“I would NOT tell people to pack up, leave their family behind, and hop on the flight to Dubai. There are certain aspects that need to be looked at, such as nationalities, or criteria set by the employer. At times, for senior roles UAE experience is mandatory. If not UAE at least GCC experience." 

1. Connect with a recruiter 

“We post about 10% of our jobs online. So the best way to go about it is to NOT sift through advertisements. It is to find our email address, approach us directly, get into our inbox, and call us. And when you are looking for a job, treat it as a job. Be resilient. If one recruiter doesn't pick up your call, ask another one,” says Oscar Orellana Hyder - Head of Financial Services at Robert Walters Middle East.

  • Break the monotony of an hour-long Zoom call and drop off a physical CV to your employer. 
  • Avoid pestering or chasing recruiters, or it could have a negative impact on your job search. Following up with recruiters every two to three weeks is sufficient.

2. LinkedIn is key! 

LinkedIn is one of the best sources to find a job in the UAE. Reach out to an employer on LinkedIn to make a connection, or pick up the phone and call them if possible.

Optimize your LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn profile is complete. Use relevant keywords related to your job search in your headline, summary, and experience sections. Also, upload a professional profile picture and a header image that showcases your expertise.

  • Follow companies in the UAE that you are interested in working for. This will help you stay up-to-date with their latest job postings, news, and events.
  • Join relevant groups: Join LinkedIn groups related to your industry or job search. This will give you access to valuable resources, industry insights, and networking opportunities.   

3. Job Portals

Many times experienced professionals avoid sharing their CVs on job portals. If you are comfortable, do so. In the UAE there are many job portals such as:

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Bayut
  3. Indeed
  4. Naukri Gulf
  5. BAC Middle East
  6. Dubizzle
  7. Michael Page
  8. Career jet
  9. Gulf Talent 
  10. efinancial Career
  11. Hays
  12. ESP International
  13. Dubai Task
  14. UAE Advise 
  15. Some websites also provide a Premium option where they will share your CVs directly with companies if there is a vacancy. 

4. Network, network, network! 

Most companies get thousands of CVs for every job vacancy they have (no exaggeration!).

More often than not, these opportunities are filled through referrals. It's a hard truth, but it's the reality in the job market. There is always someone who knows someone who is actively seeking a role. Networking and utilizing personal connections become crucial in such a competitive landscape.

Invest your time in networking and being a part of relevant groups before you land here. 

Oscar Orellana Hyder - Head of Financial Services at Robert Walters Middle East says,

"I think people really underestimate networking. Networking in this day and age is really powerful. If you are a CFO and not from the geography, find a CFO group, find the CFO networking round table and politely ask to come along.

Meet the organizers separately and request an invite. If you are a banker, do the same." 

  • Connect with professionals in the UAE who work in your industry or field of interest.
  • Send them personalized connection requests.
  • Send a message to HR Manager and politely ask for an interview. You can even engage with their posts, and ask for advice.

5. Differentiate yourself 

Competition is high, it’s getting harder, and the bars getting higher. You have got to come out of that with a differentiator, whether that’s a course or a license for something.

  • Keep yourself updated with the current norms and the different regulations coming in, the macro.
  • Study in developed geography. So whatever that means to you and your sector, differentiate yourself in the best possible way.
  • Learn soft skills; in the end, a lot of it comes down to soft skills (not just IQ). 

6. Have a well-formatted CV

  • Prepare your CV in good Format. Many templates are available on Google.
  • Do not put anything on the CV that you do not know, because the interviewer mainly starts questioning you on the basis of what is mentioned on your CV.
  • Contents in the CV:
  • Nationality & Gender
  • Current location
  • Visa status
  • Visa expiry (if tourist visa)
  • Availability to join (if up to 1 month)
  • Small passport-size photo (with formal clothes and plain background)
  • Local Numbers
  • You can also send a video resume along with your CV. A video resume allows you to talk directly to a potential employer about why you are uniquely qualified for the position. Create a script, dress accordingly, and cover specific skill sets or experiences.

Also Read

The UAE is a financial and business hub in the Middle East, employing millions of people. But now with corporate tax coming in, it is expected to create even more demand for CAs in the job market.

To sum it up... should you quit your job and move to the UAE in your 30s

Yes and No. 

It is not all that easy to find an opportunity, it takes time and it takes good connections. 

Even though visiting Visas is very easy, it is important to keep in mind that the cost of living is high in the country. Without a salary, your savings can quickly run out.

However....if you believe in yourself, have a set of friends and/or a reliable network, and understand the scope of your role in the region, make the move! 

Indeed, numerous professionals have taken calculated risks and experienced fruitful outcomes by making the move to the UAE.

Be ready to take a salary cut when starting out... but once you have 'UAE experience' on your resume there is no turning back. 

In the UAE market, Patience is KEY! 

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