Talent Acquisition Director in Dubai says there is a high demand in the Finance and Banking industry.

Talent Acquisition Director discusses opportunities in UAE's finance & banking industry

There has been an increased need for finance and accounting professionals in the UAE.

A huge number of employees would be shifting to startups says Dinesh DSouza, Head of Recruitment and Talent Acquisition at GENESIS Executive Search.

It is one of the top recruitment agencies and executive search firms in Dubai, UAE.

We will see a lot of opportunities in UAE with the advent of fintech, digital currencies and the current funding scenario. 

Can you kindly introduce yourself? How did you build a career in Human Resources in Dubai? 

I arrived in Dubai 21 years ago and was employed by a leading recruitment firm in Dubai, UAE. 

Eventually, in recognition of my hard work, and achievements, I was promoted to Director. I was managing 3 offices and a 60-member recruitment and training team.

In November 2015, I moved to Genesis Executive Search, a retained and contingency search firm. It had a small team of professional and passionate recruiters. Genesis specializes in banking, finance, engineering, supply chain and distribution industries. 

Currently, I support 150 clients across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region with strategic recruitment and human resource consulting services. I have worked with nationalities like Asian, Arab, Western, and Eastern ex-pats.  

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What is the recruitment scene like in the Banking and Finance Industry in the UAE? 

The banking and finance industry in the UAE has been growing for over a decade now. 

With the constant development of regulatory bodies like,

  • Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA)
  • Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)
  • Changes to Central Bank regulations
  • The Federal Tax Authority - FTA (incorporation of new Tax law announced in 2022)

With the Mergers /Acquisitions of local and regional banks, there is a need for stronger controls for financial efficiency within private companies. There has been an increased need for finance, compliance, relationship/sales and risk professionals in the UAE.

Almost one in 4 vacancies consist of accounting, banking or finance roles. Half of them come from private and commercial banks or financial services companies. 

Most of our placements have been for the roles of Relationship Manager (Private Banking), Associate Director (Private Banking), HNI Acquisition Director (Private Banking), Credit Analysis, Finance Officer, Internal Controls Associate, AVP Regulatory Compliance, Risk and Compliance Manager, Head of Global Trade Compliance. 

Almost 80% of these roles are DIFC based.

Which industry is best suited for finance roles in the UAE? 

It is difficult to share just one industry’s name in particular. Every industry has a demand for 2 types of roles – Accounting and Finance and Sales/Business Development. 

Banks and Financial Services, Engineering (Civil and Construction, Mechanical, Electrical), Manufacturing & Trading, Supply chain, and Pharmaceutical industries have always stood out in the need for finance and accounting professionals.

We have placed about 22 mid and senior management finance professionals in these sectors and I see more opportunities floating in the market.

With fintech startups booming in the UAE, do you see bankers/finance guys moving to fintech and crypto companies?  

Fintech startups are coming up remarkably in the UAE, and the growth of entrepreneurship has taken a big stride. 

With fintech, digital currencies like crypto and enhanced funding opportunities, I believe in another 3-5 years (assuming the knockout effect of any recession), we will see a positive change and a huge number of employees shifting to startups. 

We have had 3 large fintech companies approach us for very specific roles. Traditional bankers have continued to remain in the banking industry. Digitalization and tech innovations in payments, business processes and KYC processing have called for more learning and development and adaptation to change.

Many private bankers have taken courses and learnt about investments in crypto and this is getting wider. Especially with certain government and private companies accepting crypto as payments, this industry and its demand are growing.

Though there is a huge potential, there is an element of high risk too.

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How should the job search be? Should job seekers connect with HR companies, or hiring firms like yours? 

I would strongly advise job seekers to follow all these steps.

  1. Register with at least 20 recruitment agencies (local, regional and multinational) dealing with your job titles/industry roles.
  2. Register through online portals and networks. Having a LinkedIn profile is a must, and apart from that Naukri, monster, Bayt, indeed, Gulf Talent etc. should be your best bet.
  3. Target companies based on your previous employer’s industry and apply to them.
  4. Create Job Alerts – LinkedIn alerts, google alerts.
  5. Network a lot - Connect with peers, hiring managers/ex-managers, and attend events with your CV to name a few.

You have been hiring in the UAE for decades….What should the ideal CV format be?

I have been helping candidates both through a paid service and a free consulting service on preparing CVs. 

To summarise I would say

  • Keep your CV to a maximum of 2 pages.
  • Use a simple and professional format.
  • Ensure the lines, paragraph, margin spacings and alignments are taken care of, and choose the correct font and font size. Maintain the consistency of this throughout your CV.
  • No need to share reference details or objective statements unless you are a fresh graduate or seeking a career change.
  • Keep your work experience and education details in reverse chronological order (most recent first)
  • Keep a maximum of 10-12 bullet points for the job description, with each point consisting of one line or a maximum of 2 lines (only when absolutely needed)
  • Ensure that you optimize your CV with keywords. These must be industry or function or responsibility-specific keywords. Each bullet point must have at least 1 keyword and all of them must be in bold.
  • Don’t stuff keywords that’d make your CV sound weird.
  • Use CV formats that are ATS-compatible (applicant tracking systems have AI-based programs that read your CV from top to bottom, left to right). Graphs/diagrams/colours are not scanned or recognized by ATS. Column-based CVs which have a vertical page split have risks of not getting selected. Hence it is best to use a simple top to bottom, left-to-right format.

What are the biggest mistakes you see candidates make?

  1. Candidates tend not to invest time or money in preparing their CVs and follow ready-made google formats and ATS non-compliant CVs.
  2. The keyword optimisation on their CV is poor.
  3. Formatting in most cases needs a lot of improvement, especially with inconsistent fonts, font sizes, margins and spacings.
  4. Many CVs have plenty of basic spelling errors
  5. Candidates tend to apply for all possible jobs with one standard CV. They don't take the time to read the job description and modify their CVs accordingly.

How should one prepare for an interview in the UAE? 

I would break the interview preparation into 3 parts.

Research and Preparation - Research the Company that you are giving the interview for, and do not just use their website, go to Google. Research about the Interviewer as well.

Read the job description and do a gap analysis of your CV versus the Job Description, and the companies’ competitors. 

Prepare for your interview question by practising through mock interviews.

Pick out a professional attire and presentation materials.

The Interview - Arrive 10-15 minutes early for your interview. Pay attention to your body language, and make sure you don’t look anxious. Don’t use swear words or words that are inappropriate.

Follow-up – Send them a thank you email immediately after coming back from the interview. Send another follow-up email within 72 hours.

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Lastly, any tips on salary negotiations in the UAE? Does having work experience in the UAE matter to get hired in the same?

Salary is almost always negotiable to some extent, but it is best to figure that out prior to your interview.

You need to know to what limit you should stretch the negotiations. Some companies follow a strict budget when recruiting, but there could be room to negotiate a perk.

Try to avoid it if the situation demands it; such as, if you’ve been jobless for a while and can’t risk losing the job opportunity.

In terms of having work experience in the UAE, the organizations do prefer having a candidate with work experience in the UAE, to some degree.

So if you are looking to get a foothold in the UAE, you have the distinct advantage of being more economical with the truth if you need to. 

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