Expats representing over 200 countries across Europe, Asia and Africa make up around 80% of the UAE’s population. They are attracted by the many opportunities for career progression, the chance to increase their earnings and the exciting lifestyle. The result is a dynamic melting pot of cultures, experiences and people.

Even though recent job creation has been sluggish by historical standards, it’s certainly not all doom and gloom in the region. According to the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW), economic activity in the UAE is set to accelerate to 3.1% this year, up from an estimated 2.7% in 2018. The economy is being buoyed by a pick-up in non-oil related activity and rising public spending and investment ahead of the highly anticipated Dubai Expo 2020.

Furthermore, in the latest quarterly Michael Page Job Confidence Index, 86% of respondents think that the job market situation will improve over the next six months. And, according to recruitment firm Robert Walters, there is increasing demand for professionals in IT, legal, finance, banking and HR. Another key factor to consider is the roll out of nationalisation programmes across the region. As Jason Grundy, Robert Walters country head, Middle East, says: “The growing demand for nationals will continue to dominate the market as many companies aim to comply with nationalisation legislation. As a result, local market knowledge will be a key differentiator for all professionals across the region.”

With this in mind, making the shortlist for a lucrative position is a demanding process. As a jobseeker, you need to go above and beyond to stand out from the crowd with a CV that reflects your unique skills and breadth of experience.

City CV’s Founder and CEO, Victoria McLean, sits on the International Committee of Career Directors International (CDI) and holds the post of ‘CDI International Expert’.

Victoria was instrumental in the set-up of Merrill Lynch’s MENA hub through her recruitment expertise, and our team has successfully supported many City CV clients across the Middle East with their career search. A former expat herself, Victoria, knows all too well what challenges our clients face and we will arm you with all the marketing documents (from resume and cover letter to LinkedIn profile) required to secure an interview, plus the interview training to get that offer.

Here are her top four tips to increase your chances of securing a job in the UAE:

  1. Take a strategic approach

The biggest mistake we see is candidates not strategically positioning themselves as a perfect match on their CV. Remember, you’ll only have a few seconds to make a powerful impact. It’s essential you convince hirers of your transferable skills, leadership and influencer qualities, and strategic multi-national or multi-sector experience.

It’s tempting to list every role, successful project, skill and degree you’ve acquired. This will almost certainly result in a disjointed, rambling CV that fails to highlight your key value add. That lack of focus will send out confused messages.

Many busy expat executives struggle to step back from their hectic schedule and take an objective, strategic view of their own career. Many understate, or fail to quantify, their accomplishments. Yet, it’s vital that you don’t undersell your contribution.

The most critical stage of creating an executive expat CV starts before you put words on the page. It’s so tempting to rush straight in and start typing. But, you wouldn’t launch a marketing campaign or new project without agreeing your objectives and understanding your target audience.

It’s the same with your CV. We start by identifying your key achievements and most relevant strengths with the needs of your target audience in mind. We ensure you can answer the question, “Why Me?” with clarity and conciseness.

  1. Tailor your CV to each opportunity  

Years ago, your CV could simply be a well-presented, error-free list of your job titles and responsibilities. Now, your CV is a marketing document or business case. It needs to highlight your value proposition and focus on tangible, quantified results achieved, rather than roles and projects undertaken.

An executive CV writer with experience across international markets will be able to craft these messages in a compelling way. They’ll ensure your unique traits and abilities, across disciplines from financial control and risk management to digitisation and project leadership, are built into an individual narrative.

You can’t get away with having one generic CV for every role. Your accomplishments, skills and results won’t change, but you will need to shape those elements into a different narrative for each opportunity.

  1. Keep your elevator pitch succinct

As with networking or pitching to a new client, it’s vital that your CV makes an excellent first impression. In just two or three sentences, your executive summary must make it abundantly clear that you are a perfect match for the role. You’ll need to focus on where you can add value and stay relevant to the specific attributes required by your target employer in the region.

  1. Develop a compelling personal brand

Your LinkedIn profile is just as important as your CV (90% of hirers will research you online before an interview). LinkedIn can be less formal than your CV and it gives you opportunities to present more of your personality, professional interests and build your network and industry influence. Your international networks and connections are part of your value-add in the expat world.

Remember, although CVs are presented in a chronological format, their purpose is not simply to explain what you’ve achieved in your career. The objective is to convince the reader why you are the perfect person for a particular expat opportunity. That means you have to identify and validate your USP – and articulate it in a unique and compelling way.

Next Steps

City CV offers a comprehensive range of careers services for executives seeking roles in the UAE. This includes targeted professional CV, covering letter and LinkedIn profile writing, as well as interview and career coaching.

If you have any other questions, please call us on +44 20 7100 6656 or email us at [email protected].

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