A picture of the Dubai skyline at night. Downtown Dubai and the Burj Khalifa are visible.

How to reach out to recruitment agencies in Dubai

Joel Mason • Oct 18, 2021
Blog

How to reach out to recruitment agencies in Dubai

Joel Mason • Oct 18, 2021

Dubai is full of recruitment companies, some of them are very well established, well run and very professional and others, not so much. But when it comes to finding a job in Dubai, partnering with a recruitment firm or two is an essential step.

By the way...we have just released a list of 20 of the most established recruitment companies in Dubai - click here to get it

I use the word ‘partnering’ as an effective relationship between a recruiter and a candidate should function like a partnership. When both parties are clear on their expectations and what they bring to the relationship, positive things can happen.

Firstly, what do I mean by 'Recruiter'? Generally, there are two types of recruiters – in-house and agency. In-house recruiters work directly for the company that is hiring and will typically work on many different types of roles. An in-house recruiter will usually source roles by advertising positions and evaluating applications. One day they might work on a finance role and the next day they might be recruiting a customer service role. They are typically paid a set salary and may receive a bonus for hitting certain KPIs.

Agency recruiters work with many organisations and act as an outsourced recruitment function. An agency recruiter will usually only recruit in one particular area, for instance, finance or sales or legal. Sometimes they will be paid an upfront fee to work on a role, in which case they will be the only recruitment firm recruiting that position. However, most often they are only paid once the company has successfully hired their candidate. Oftentimes, multiple recruitment firms will all be competing to find the best candidate who will be selected for the role. Typically a recruitment agency will be paid a fee equivalent to 15 - 25% of the hired candidate's annual salary. The individual recruiter will then be awarded a percentage of this fee as commission, on top of their monthly salary. Agency recruiters are therefore very motivated to represent the best candidates for roles and to secure the highest salaries possible.

Agency recruiters need to be sales people. They first have to sell their service to hiring companies and agree terms of business. They then need to ensure candidates are happy to work with them, and they will also be ‘selling’ opportunities they are working on to candidates. A good recruiter will then work to market their candidates to the hiring company and will be very incentivised to ensure their candidate is selected and that an offer is accepted – remember they won’t get paid for any of their work unless a candidate starts in a position and remains there for a a minimum period of time.

In this article, our focus is on how to work with agency recruiters in Dubai. They have access to roles across the market and a macro view of hiring trends, and this means they can be a very valuable resource in helping you land a role.

Important Disclosure: We are affiliates for some of these products and services, if you click and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no extra cost to you. We only ever recommend products and services that we have personally used and believe in. Learn more over here.

I'm going to cover:

► How to identify which recruitment firms to work with

► How to make contact with those firms

► How to build a positive relationship that yields results

All of this information, plus the telephone numbers, email addresses, websites and active job lists of 20 of Dubai's most established and respected recruitment agencies, is available in our exclusive eBook - Click here now to find out more

Identify the recruitment firms that you want to work with

Dubai is full of recruitment firms, so how do you know which ones to work with? My advice is to look for firms that:

Specialise in your function or industry, or have a team or a consultant that does. One of the great benefits of working with a recruiter is the wealth of knowledge and understanding that they can provide you with. A recruiter that understands your industry can be a source of invaluable advice, can answer your questions and help you into roles that are truly right for you. They can also be honest with you and give you an accurate assessment of your skills, experience and the likelihood that you will find the role you want, at the salary you require. Recruiters typically specialise based on role function (Accounting, HR, Legal etc.), however, there are also recruiters who specialise by industry i.e. FMCG, hospitality, healthcare or financial services. You can find the most relevant recruiters by searching for roles that match your skillset on indeed.ae. Indeed is a web-scraping tool and will show you all roles being advertised around the web. Make a note of the recruitment agencies that have the most relevant positions. You can also visit recruiters’ websites and check which functions they recruit for or whether they specialise in particular industries.

Recruit roles at your seniority level. Typically, recruitment firms will have their own ‘sweet spot’ for the seniority of roles they work on and generally firms will fall into one of three categories:

1. Manpower/blue-collar Recruitment – These are high-volume, quick turnaround roles that generally pay less than AED10,000 per month. These recruiters may have less time to meet with you and the best approach is usually to apply in the first couple of days to any roles they have advertised. Examples include; Charterhouse and Manpower. You’ll find roles on sites like Bayt and Gulf Talent.

2. Professional Recruitment – These are more specialised roles and agencies that work on these positions will often focus on the types of positions that hiring companies struggle to fill. They’ll typically be looking for candidates with specialised qualifications and experience for the roles they are hiring for. Examples include; Robert Walters, Michael Page and Robert Half. You’ll find roles advertised on their websites and on LinkedIn.

3. Executive Search Firms – These firms work on high-profile, executive-level positions and will often headhunt roles or source candidates through their network. Examples include; Egon Zehnder, Korn Ferry and Heidrick & Struggles. These roles may be advertised in specialist publications or headhunted.

Are well established in the region. These will be firms that have been present in Dubai for a number of years, have a presence on the ground, have built a team, and have a track record of success. These firms are much more likely to have a large client base (companies that they have developed long-term and trusted relationships with) and they will likely have more open doors into organisations and will be working on more vacancies. A firm that has not had the time to develop these partnerships will likely struggle to represent you for good opportunities. If you are speaking to a firm who is new to the region who is promising to represent you to lots of great companies, be wary. They may not actually have relationships with these organisations and may be sending your CV as a form of bait to get the attention of organisations. This can backfire on you as a candidate and in such instances, you may be better off applying directly to the hiring organisation.  

Are reputable and trusted. Often these are the ones with strong and visible brands, longevity in the region and a professional approach. How you’re treated in your first interaction is usually a good indication of how you’re going to be treated and whether or not a company will represent you well.

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 a video call, or at the very least take the time to have an in-depth telephone conversation with you. A firm can only represent you well if they truly understand your background, experience, skill-set and expectations. If you don’t feel that they have a good grasp of these things, it is unlikely that they will successfully place you into a role and you may just waste your time. As mentioned, this may not be standard practice for more junior or less specialised roles.

I recommend partnering with no more than two agencies at a time. In Dubai you will find that the same role is often being worked on by multiple agencies. You want to avoid your CV being sent for the same role by multiple agencies, this is more likely to happen if lots of companies are representing you.

If a recruiter knows that you are working exclusively with them, and maybe one other, they are much more likely to build a relationship with you and put more effort into representing you well.

Get in contact

Contacting recruiters in Dubai isn’t particularly difficult. It helps that Dubai is a very relational city, people are very used to meeting for coffee, and so if you make contact in the right way, you should be able to arrange a few positive meetings.

To understand exactly what kind of Inmails and emails to send torecruiters and hiring managers in Dubai, check out our eBook, it contains email and Inmail templates that can be adapted for each connection that you make. As ex-recruiters we know the kinds of messages that recruiters like to receive, and the kinds that they tend to ignore, so if you are looking for a job in Dubai, you will find this resource invaluable! Click below.

Need to connect with recruiters in Dubai?

Download our list of Dubai's top 20 recruitment agencies

Get your CV professionally edited and make sure YOU get noticed

Refresh your CV!

Let’s explore some of the ways that you can make contact.

LinkedIn

In Dubai, you can be absolutely certain that every recruiter uses LinkedIn, and will be active on the platform on an almost daily bases.

Send a connection request

Keep in mind that recruiters receive constant connection requests. If you want your connection request to stand out, you need to personalise it and give the recruiter a reason to accept it.

This means that you should not just hit connect. Instead, make sure you craft a personal message, use the recruiter’s name and make sure you spell it correctly. Making a good first impression is very important.

Send a message

Once you’re connected send another, more specific, message that tells the recruiter a little about yourself, why you think it would be mutually beneficial to chat and finish off with a call to action, such as ‘let’s meet for a coffee’ or ‘when would be a good time for us to connect?’

Pro-tip

Connecting with recruiters on LinkedIn is an essential step to a successful Dubai job search, and you can expedite this process by using LinkedIn InMails. InMails are a great tool because they allow you to directly message someone even if you’re not connected.

Once you have identified a handful of recruiters that you need to make contact with, InMails will bypass having to wait for them to accept your connection request. Another benefit is that InMails allow you to craft a longer message that contains more detail. I think that InMails also demonstrate a level of seriousness in your approach.

Getting yourself a one-month subscription to LinkedIn Learning/Premium will provide you with some InMails that can be used to reach out to recruiters.

We advise all of our clients to consider making the most of a one-month free trial that can be cancelled before you have to pay anything. Click here for more details. (LinkedIn Affiliate Ad)

You’ll get access to 5 InMails which you can use to directly contact the recruiters that are most important to your job search.

Direct contact

When I first moved to Dubai, I found the email addresses and telephone numbers of the recruiters that I needed to speak to. I found that the direct approach was most expedient and most effective.

Every recruitment company in Dubai will have a website where you should be able to source some information on the team and some contact details.  

► 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.

► If you are unable to see anyone face-to-face or speak to them over the phone, use their website or LinkedIn to find either a specific or generic email address and send over your CV with a well-written introduction email requesting a time to meet or speak over the phone.

► 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.

How can you build a positive relationship that yields results?

Be open and honest

Many candidates are very secretive or very unclear about what they are looking for. Neither of these approaches will get you very far when working with a recruiter in Dubai.

Typically, organisations in Dubai will give recruiters very specific requirements for the candidates that they are looking for. These requirements are often more specific than in other parts of the world and therefore you might find that recruiters in Dubai ask you to provide information that you would not normally be accustomed to providing.

Don’t be put off by this, it is normal, and without this information a recruiter may find it difficult to move forward with you and represent you for roles.

Don’t be surprised if you are asked for the following information:

• Current salary

• Salary expectations

• Family status

• Visa status

• County of origin

• Where your passport was issued

Much of this information is required by organisations to process visas and they often need to know up front if they can process a visa for you. Salary expectations are often required as organisations don’t like to take a candidate all the way through a long process only to find that they won’t accept their salary offer.

I mentioned above that a recruiter will also like to know exactly what kind of role you want and would accept.

Typically, the more information you provide, the easier it is for a recruiter to represent you for job roles in Dubai.

Understand what to expect from a recruiter

• Knowledge and expertise of your industry within Dubai.

• Honest feedback regarding how likely it will be that you’ll find a role.

• Advice on what kind of salary and benefits to expect, although you should be careful that you don’t get pushed into taking an offer that’s too low.

• An initial interview in order to understand your background so that they can adequately represent you to organisations.

• Advice on your CV and any changes that may need to be made. However, they will usually only help with this if they are planning to represent you for roles. Their main job is to find the right candidate for their clients, not to help you find a job.

• To call you when suitable roles become available and ask your permission to be represented for it. They should not submit your CV to any hiring companies without you knowing.

• Coaching through the interview process, providing feedback after each step and keeping you up to date.

• Help to negotiate a salary package if you are made an offer. They may negotiate directly with the employer on your behalf.

• Confidentiality and professionalism. They should not share your CV or details with anyone without your explicit consent and should not contact anyone within your current organisation.

Understand what you shouldn’t expect from a recruiter

• Constant contact, they will be working with lots of candidates and will be working on multiple roles at any one time. You should give them space and time to come back to you with feedback and you should not chase them daily as they may find this frustrating.

• That they will only represent you for the role. A recruiter will usually submit 3 – 5 candidates to their client for each role they are working on. They get paid by the company to fill the position and their job is to provide the best service to their client, not to find you a job.

• Guarantees. Ultimately, they may not be able to find you a role, remember, this is not their job, their job is to fill roles with the best candidates available.

• Miracles. If the roles that suit your background, expertise and requirements are simply not available, they will not be able to work miracles.

If you are serious about finding a role in Dubai, you should prioritise developing a good working partnership with one or two recruiters in the region. Many of the roles in Dubai are filled by recruiters and they are an invaluable source of advice and support.

You might also like to read: