What do recruiters in Dubai want to see in your CV? Image is a view of Dubai Marina featuring some of Dubai's most iconic buildings such as The Torch

Write an Amazing CV for Dubai That Gets Your Interviews

Hannah Mason

Write an Amazing CV for Dubai That Gets Your Interviews

Hannah Mason • May 02, 2023

Working in Dubai recruitment agencies, we looked at literally thousands of CVs.

I can tell you that many of the CVs submitted to recruiters in Dubai are not even close to the standard that Dubai recruiters are looking for, this is often the reason that people don’t get interviews.

In this article, I’m going to explain step-by-step what recruiters in Dubai look for when they read a CV.

By the end, you’ll be able to create a CV that will impress both Dubai recruiters and hiring managers at first glance.

This is what recruiters in Dubai look for on a CV

A standard top to bottom format

Remember, recruiters and hiring managers look at thousands of CVs and typically have just seconds to quickly scan each document in order to determine if it’s worth taking a closer look.

Recruiters will expect to read your CV from top to bottom, quickly identifying all of the information that they need. A CV template that follows a standard format prevents the most important information from being hidden.

For this reason, you should avoid using CV templates that use sidebars or irregular text boxes that would force a recruiter to have to search for the information that they need.

You should also start by listing your most recent role and work backwards through your career.

How to Find a Job in Dubai

Your name

This may sound obvious, but your name should be clearly written right at the top of your CV. A large font size will help you to remain memorable, it will also help the recruiter when they are calling or emailing you.

Make sure that the name on your CV matches your name on your LinkedIn profile, this will avoid confusion. A recruiter will often look at your LinkedIn profile for additional detail.

Using just your first and last name and maybe one middle name is standard practice.

Address and contact information

Recruiters in Dubai want to know where you are located. Job seekers that are already located in Dubai are often preferred as they won’t need to relocate for the role.

If you are located overseas, a recruiter needs to know as this information is relevant to the hiring company.

A recruiter will look for this information right at the top of your CV, just below your name. They will not expect to have to search through your CV for it.

Recruitment in Dubai moves very quickly, if you are a good fit for a role a recruiter will want to contact you as quickly as possible. Ensuring that your contact information is up-to-date and right at the top of your CV will prevent you from missing out on opportunities.

When applying for jobs in Dubai, simply include your city, country, email address, telephone number and a hyperlink to your LinkedIn profile. It is also best to include only one contact number and one email address to avoid confusion. If you are based outside the UAE, make sure to include the country dialling code in your telephone number to make it easier to contact you.

How to Find a Job in Dubai

A professional profile section

Dubai recruiters want to read a short paragraph that instantly gives them a very clear picture of who you are, what you do and why you are a perfect fit for the role you are applying for.

This sits right below your contact information and should be adapted for each job application. The key here is to show the recruiter why you are a great fit for the role.

This is one of the most important sections on your CV, recruitment in Dubai is highly competitive and what you write in this section can ensure that you stand out.

This should not be a career objective statement (that states why you want the job); these are outdated and quite irrelevant to your application. Your opening summary should be about why they should hire you and should also make clear what role you are suited to.

Think of this section of one of the ways in which you market yourself in your job search.

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Should you include a photo on your Dubai CV?

Many people ask us whether they should include a photo on their Dubai CV.

There are many out-of-date articles that recommend a photo should always be included on CVs in Dubai. However, this is not the case and this is bad advice.

Photos are requested for some customer-facing roles and a professional headshot should be included on your CV if it is requested in the job description.

But, for most roles a photo is not needed and including one can make your CV appear less professional.

Instead, you should include a link to your LinkedIn page and ensure your LinkedIn profile picture is up-to-date and represents you well.

If you are concerned about the potential of ageism check out this blog on how to overcome it.

Key skills or achievements

Whilst this is not an essential part of your CV, including a key skills or achievements section can re-enforce your suitability for the role and give the recruiter more reason to reach out to you.

A Key Skills section will also help a recruiter see that you have the relevant skills for the role at a quick glance.

The skills listed should be specific to the roles/industry you are applying to.

Avoid very general skills like ‘teamwork’ or ‘MS office’.

Your work experience

If your CV has succeeded in catching the recruiters’ attention so far, they will want to know more about your work experience and career progression.

A few things to note here; firstly, your work experience should be written and presented in chronological order, beginning with your most recent or current role and working backwards.

Secondly, they will be most interested in aspects of your work history that are most relevant to the role you are applying for. As a recruiter in Dubai reads your CV, they will be matching your work experience to the requirements listed on the job description.

This does not mean that you should only include experience that matches the job description, it means that you should put more emphasis on the most relevant information and consider which irrelevant information could be excluded.

We find it best to include a 2 sentence summary under each role which gives an overview of your position and responsibilities, followed by 5 bullet points (or fewer for older roles) that show your key accomplishments and the difference you made. Including metrics here can have greater impact.

How to Find a Job in Dubai

Dates of employment

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to piece together and make sense of a candidate’s employment dates.

Making sure that your employment dates are accurate avoids confusion or even suspicion on the part of the recruiter reading your CV.

Keep it simple, just list the month and year that you started a role and the month and year that you ended. If you are still in the role simply type ‘present’ to indicate that you are still there.

An example of a simple and clean way to list your dates for the Dubai market is Jun 2010 – Jan 2022

Again, make sure that the dates listed on your CV match the dates listed on your LinkedIn profile, recruiters in Dubai will often cross reference both.

Your education

Including your education on your CV is particularly important if a job opportunity requires a certain level of qualification.

We have a separate article on how to include your education on your CV, if you would like more detail.

Companies in Dubai often look for candidates with a university degree, as it required to process visas for certain job levels.

A recruiter will skip to the bottom of your CV in order to confirm your education and this is where it should typically be located. However, if a certain professional qualification is essential for a role (for example ACCA qualified) you should consider listing this at the top of your CV.

Personal details

One of the biggest questions we get is ‘what personal details should I include on a Dubai CV’.

In many countries, this information would be completely omitted but in Dubai personal details on CVs are often included. The exact details you need to include do vary slightly from role to role and depending on level of seniority, but generally the following information is included:

Nationality – This is often needed for visa purposes, as at various times visas may be restricted for certain nationalities.

Languages – In a multicultural country like to Dubai, it is helpful to list all the languages you speak and your proficiency level.

Marital/family Status – Some companies may request this information as a company will often sponsor the visas of an employee’s family and may provide family benefits such as schooling and health insurance.

For more physically demanding roles you may see information such as date of birth and height requested. This practice is legal in Dubai and this information should be included if it is requested in the job advert. However, I always recommend to only include personal information that has been requested or is needed for the role.

Please note, you should not include sensitive information such as passport number, father’s name etc. on your CV. This information may be needed for visa purposes and can be provided if/when requested. It is not needed for the initial screening stage and including sensitive information on your CV can leave you vulnerable to fraud.

What is the ideal length for your Dubai CV?

The typical length of a Dubai CV will be 2-3 pages, depending on your level of seniority and experience. As a general rule, if you have fewer than 20 years of professional work experience, you should aim to make your CV two pages. If you have 20+ years of experience, three pages is fine.

In some counties, such as the United States, one-page resumes are common. This is not the case in Dubai where recruiters will expect a 2–3-page CV that contains more detail.

How to Find a Job in Dubai

Conclusion and a final word on CV formatting

I cannot stress enough the importance of ensuring your CV is well organised, formatted from top to bottom and easy to read!

Your CV should be free of spelling and grammar mistakes.

Many CVs are dismissed on first glance because they are messy, difficult to read and do not display vitally important information in the correct places.

Avoid two column CV templates, graphic templates or templates that include sidebars as these are not standard, can hide important information and are often not ATS-friendly.

Recruiters look at hundreds of CVs each week and have precious little time to spend scanning each one, for this reason having a great CV is critical for your Dubai job search.

If you are about to begin looking for a job in Dubai, or are experiencing frustrations with your search, I would recommend having your CV professionally written or downloading a CV template that has been formatted in the correct way.