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.
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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.
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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
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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.