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How to get a job in Dubai on a visit visa

Joel Mason • Oct 14, 2021

How to get a job in Dubai on a visit visa

Joel Mason • Oct 14, 2021

Traveling to Dubai on a visit visa to secure a job is very common. It’s a strategy that works, we know this as we did it ourselves. In 2013, when we were a little younger and a little braver, we arrived in Dubai airport on a 30-day visit visa, ready to embrace all that the city had to offer. We were successful, and enjoyed eight great years in the city. We became recruiters and over the years have helped, and continue to help, many people from all over the world begin great careers in Dubai. 

So, if you’re thinking of going to Dubai in order to look for work, here are four tips that we think will help you.

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Before we begin, if you're seriously looking for a job in Dubai right now, you should download a copy of  'The 20 Top Recruitment Agencies in Dubai' eBook that's now available on our site. Click here.

Set a clear and specific goal

When you arrive on a visit visa, you only have a limited amount of time to find a job. One of the main reasons that people are unsuccessful is that they do not have a clear and specific target, they don’t know what industries they are targeting, what job roles they are open to, or a good fit for, or what companies they would ideally like to work in.

Deciding exactly what role you want and which kind of organisation you wish to work for will enable you to perform a targeted job search, and a targeted job search is much more likely to result in a job offer.

Many of the clients that we work with become frustrated when they apply for huge numbers of roles and hear nothing back. This typically happens when they haven’t decided on exactly what role they want and instead believe that applying for more jobs will increase their chances. Unfortunately, this approach rarely works and is often one of the major reasons that people seem to get stuck in their job search, here’s why:

It leaves recruiters confused as to how they can help you.

Recruiters are tasked to source candidates that meet very specific requirements, this is particularly true in Dubai where most organisations are quite inflexible in regards to their requirements. If your CV, LinkedIn profile or applications are too generic, recruiters will be unclear about what roles they should approach you for and whether or not you will be a good fit for the role for which they are recruiting.

It can show you lack intention and focus.

Many people don’t realise that a single recruiter will likely be handling multiple roles at any given time and when they see the same candidate applying for lots of roles, even roles that they are not suitable for, it can undermine the candidate’s credibility, giving the impression that this candidate does not really know what job they want or what role they would excel in.

Your applications will be low quality.

It’s very easy to quickly click ‘apply’ on job boards and recruitment platforms, but this typically results in lots of low-quality applications, applications that have not been given enough thought or attention. Generally, fewer, high-quality applications yield a greater degree of success than many low-quality applications.

Deciding on exactly what kind of role you want will enable you to conduct some thorough research and to begin communicating the value that you can add to specific organisations on your CV and LinkedIn. It will also provide you with more time to follow up on your applications with high-quality and personalised communication.

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Sign up for job boards

Signing up for the most commonly used job boards should play a role in your Dubai job search. However, the extent of the role they will play will largely depend on the kind of role and level you are aiming for.

It’s important to understand that applying on job boards alone is unlikely to be the most expedient approach to finding a role, or the best role.

Having said this, my advice would be to register on a few key job boards sooner rather than later. If you are planning to relocate to Dubai you should do this before you even arrive so that you don’t waste time when you land.

The most commonly used and well-known job boards in Dubai are:


Gulf Talent


Sign up for these as soon as possible and make sure that you fully complete your profiles. 

There are a few things that job boards are useful for:

Research: Job boards can be an effective means of scoping out and understanding the market. You can use job boards to; 

  • Find the names of recruitment companies, as well as understand the types of roles that they handle. You can then reach out to them directly.
  • Get an idea of how active the market is at the moment. Fewer jobs on job boards is an indication of a slow market.
  • Better understand how in demand your skills and experience are and even get some idea of the companies that are currently hiring. 
  • Understand the salary levels that are on offer for the roles you desire.

Getting found by organisations and recruitment companies: Most recruitment companies and a lot of internal HR departments will use job boards to some extent.

  • By uploading your CV and personal details you are more likely to get found as and when a recruiter or HR manager conducts a search for candidates with your skillset using a job board platform.
  • Very often recruiters and HR managers will store the details of good candidates that they find on job boards for later. Registering on a job board can be a good way to get into the databases of recruitment firms or organisations that handle their own recruitment to some extent.

Applying for jobs: This is the obvious one and it’s the main reason that people register on job boards, however, before you just start applying for anything and everything, remember what we said in tip number one!

It’s worth noting that most job boards are designed to advertise jobs in the junior to mid-level range. Very senior or specialised roles tend not to be advertised this way but will often be recruited through executive search firms. 

Get a Dubai telephone number

When we moved to Dubai, we were advised to get local cell phone numbers as soon as possible. This was some of the best advice that we received, because the minute we updated our new local number on our CVs, LinkedIn profiles and job boards, we started to receive calls.

Generally speaking, recruiters and organisations prefer to attract local talent, people who are already located in Dubai, because it's less risky – when offering a job to someone abroad there is always a risk that they will choose not to relocate. It’s cheaper – Relocating someone from abroad comes at a cost, these costs can be avoided when hiring someone already in the country.

Having a Dubai number on your CV, job board profiles and LinkedIn profile tells recruiters and hiring managers that you are here and ready to go!

Take a trip to one of the many malls as soon as possible and visit an Etisalat or DU store and get yourself a pre-paid sim card. Make sure you take your passport as you will need ID.

Also, don’t forget to change your location on LinkedIn to ‘Dubai’ so that you start showing up in searches for people based in the region.

​​Partner with recruitment agencies

One of the first things you need to do when embarking on your Dubai job search is partner with one or two recruitment agencies.

These recruitment agencies should be:

1. Reputable, well recognised and well respected in the region.

2. Specialists in your particular industry or area of specialisation.

How should you begin a relationship with a recruiter?

1. Find the best recruitment firms for you, firms that ideally;

  • Either specialise in your industry, or have a team that does, as you will benefit from their knowledge and expertise.
  • Are well established in the region, these firms are much more likely to have a large client base and therefore more job opportunities on offer.
  • Are reputable and trusted, often these are the ones with strong and visible brands, longevity (untrustworthy, and unprofessional recruitment agencies tend to be unsuccessful and therefore do not last long), and a professional approach. You can usually tell from your first interaction what a recruitment company will be like to work with simply by the way that they treat you.
  • Are willing to meet with you. You may find that there are quite a few firms that meet the above criteria, however only 2-3 may be open to meeting you. My advice would be to work with the ones that have taken the time to meet you face-to-face, over video call or at the very least through an in-depth telephone conversation. Meeting face-to-face is always preferable.

2. Get in contact.

Use Google or LinkedIn to find a telephone number or email for the recruiter in the firm that specialises in your industry. Every recruiter will be on LinkedIn and a quick LinkedIn search will bring them up. Send them a personal, brief and to-the-point connection request or InMail that simply explains who you are and that you would love to meet them for a brief introduction.

Getting yourself a one-month subscription to LinkedIn Learning will provide you with some InMails that can be used to reach out to recruiters. You can even make the most of a one-month free trial that can be cancelled before you start paying. 

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Go to the company’s website and find the name of the recruiter in the team specialising in your field, call up the company and ask for them by name. Explain a little bit about who you are, suggest a coffee chat and follow-up with an email to thank them for their time on the phone and attach an up-to-date copy of your CV.

Failing all of the above there is an alternative way to get on the radar of a recruitment company and that is by applying for a role that they are advertising. Just make sure the role is a good fit for you, it’s important that you make a good first impression. If they like your profile they will get in touch and usually your CV will be added to their database regardless.

Don't forget, if you're seriously looking for a job in Dubai right now, you should download a copy of  'The 20 Top Recruitment Agencies in Dubai' eBook that's now available on our site. Click here.