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Recruitment Agencies in Dubai - Your Complete Guide

Joel Mason

Recruitment Agencies in Dubai - Your Complete Guide

Joel Mason • Apr 05, 2023

Working with recruitment agencies in Dubai is one of the most efficient ways of landing a job.

When you partner with a job consultancy in Dubai you tap into a wealth of knowledge, experience and connections.

The best recruiters in Dubai will be able to support you at every stage of your job search.

From identifying the best opportunities to negotiating the best salary.

Find the top recruitment agencies in Dubai

In this article, I'll tell you everything you need to know about recruitment agencies in Dubai.

I'm going to explain exactly how to identify the best recruiters in Dubai, and how to avoid the worst.

By the end of this article, you'll have everything you need to find and connect with the best recruitments agencies Dubai has to offer.

Understanding recruitment agencies in Dubai

It's important to understand how recruitment companies in Dubai work.

A recruitment consultant that works for a job consultancy in Dubai is typically referred to as agency recruiter.

You'll find that agency recruiters work with lots of organisations, and typically act as an outsourced recruitment function.

An agency recruiter will usually specialise and only recruit in one particular area, for instance, finance or sales or legal recruitment.

Sometimes recruitment agencies in Dubai will be paid an upfront fee to work on a role. This type of arrangement ensures that they have exclusive rights to work the role.

This is called 'retained' work. However, most often Dubai recruitment agencies are only paid once they successfully fill the position.

How much do Dubai recruitment agencies charge?

As a candidate, you should never pay a fee to a job consultancy in Dubai! This isn't how recruitment in Dubai works.

Recruiters in Dubai earn a fee from the client that they are recruiting for. For example Amazon, P&G or Mars.

Typically a Dubai recruitment agency will be paid a fee equivalent to 15 - 25% of the hired candidate's year 1 annual salary.

This fee is paid by their client once the successful candidate has been in the position for a few months.

If a job consultancy in Dubai asks you for any kind of fee you need to refuse. This practice is illegal.

How much do Dubai recruiters earn?

The basic salary of a Dubai recruiter can range from around 15,000AED per month to 35,000AED per month.

This very much depends upon their level of experience and seniority.

However, the individual recruitment agent earns a commission in addition to their monthly salary for every role they successfully fill.

Most recruiters in Dubai are therefore very motivated to represent the best candidates for roles and to secure the highest salaries possible.

Dubai recruiters need to be great salespeople, and this is something that you should bear in mind.

Recruiters in Dubai work for the organisations that they represent, they do not work for you.

It's helpful to understand this so that you don't expect more from a recruiter than they can deliver.

How to choose the best recruitment agencies in Dubai for your job search

It's important to partner with the most reputable Dubai recruitment consultancies.

Your job search and career are important and therefore you should only entrust them to real professionals.

Let's consider four rules for choosing a Dubai recruitment agency.

1. Find Dubai recruitment agencies that specialise in your target industry

Most recruitment agencies in Dubai recruit for roles within multiple industries.

A large recruitment agency such as Michael Page, for example, will recruit for almost every industry.

As a general rule, the more specialist the recruitment agency is, the more value they can add to your job search.

Food People are a Dubai recruitment company that recruits only for the FMCG/Food industries.

They, therefore, have a team of very knowledgeable consultants with a great deal of expertise and skill within this one area.

There is a lot of benefit in working with a recruitment company in Dubai that specialises in one or two nitch areas.

They typically have more developed networks and work with and are trusted by some of the best companies.

The biggest advantage, however, is that they can provide you with a much more consultative service.

There are many benefits to partnering with an expert

If the Dubai recruitment agency you partner with is less bespoke and works across multiple industries, make sure they have at least one expert.

Most large recruitment agencies operate desks that have a specific industry focus.

Before you engage with a job consultancy in Dubai make sure that they have at least one person who knows your industry well.

A Dubai recruiter that understands your industry can be a source of invaluable advice. They can answer your questions and help you find a job in Dubai that is right for you.

They can also be honest with you, and give you an accurate assessment of your CV, your skills and your experience.

Our Dubai recruitment agency directory will help you to identify the agencies that specialise in your industry.

You can download your copy here.


2. Find a Dubai recruitment agency that recruits for your seniority level

Typically, recruitment companies Dubai will have their own ‘sweet spot’ for the seniority of roles they work on.

Generally, recruitment agencies in Dubai will fall into one of three categories:

Manpower/blue-collar recruitment in Dubai: These are high-volume, quick turnaround roles that generally pay less than AED10,000 per month.

These Dubai recruitment agents are very transactional and typically have less time to meet with you. The best approach is usually to apply within the first couple of days for any roles they have advertised.

Professional recruitment in Dubai: These are more specialised roles. Dubai recruitment agents who work for these agencies will typically be looking for candidates with specialised qualifications and experience.

Examples include; Robert Walters, Michael Page and Robert Half.

Executive recruitment agencies in Dubai: These firms work on high-profile, executive-level positions. The recruitment agents that work for them will often headhunt roles or source candidates through their network.

Examples include; Egon Zehnder, Korn Ferry and Heidrick & Struggles.

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3. A Dubai recruitment agent who is well established in the region

The best recruitment agents and recruitment agencies in Dubai are usually the ones that have been around for a while.

They will also be the ones that have a track record of success.

These recruitment agencies are much more likely to have a large client base.

This means they will likely have more open doors into organisations and be working on more vacancies.

A Dubai recruitment agent 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 recruitment agent that's new to Dubai and who is promising to represent you to lots of great companies, be wary.

These recruitment agents 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.

4. Find a Dubai recruitment agency that is willing to meet you

You may find that there are quite a few recruitment agents in Dubai that meet the above criteria.

However, only 2-3 may be open to meeting you.

I advise you to work with the recruiters that have taken the time to meet you face-to-face. If face-to-face isn't possible, don't settle for less than a video call or in-depth telephone conversation.

A Dubai recruitment agency will only be able to represent you well if they truly understand you.

They need to have a deep insight into 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.

How many Dubai recruitment agencies should you work with?

I recommend that you partner with no more than two Dubai recruitment agents at a time.

In Dubai, you will find that the same role is often being worked on by multiple recruiters.

You should avoid your CV being sent for the same role by multiple recruitment agents.

This is more likely to happen if a lot of recruitment companies in Dubai are representing you.

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

This means that they will also put more effort into representing you well.


What's the best way to find recruitment agencies in Dubai?

You can search Google or ask your connections.

However, the quickest way to find the best and most reputable recruitment agencies in Dubai is to download our recruitment agency directory.

You can learn more here.

How should you connect with Dubai recruitment agencies?

Let's look at the four most direct and effective means of making contact.

Remember, Dubai recruitment agencies receive lots of messages on a daily basis. It's therefore important to prioritise the most direct forms of communication.

As we work through the list below, we'll begin with the most indirect and end with the most direct.

1. Connect with Dubai recruiters by applying for roles they have advertised online

This approach will only be effective if you apply for jobs for which you are suitable.

This is very important. If you apply for jobs for which you are not qualified you'll send a very negative message.

With that said, this can be an effective means of connecting with Dubai recruiters.

Search the active job lists on their websites, or on Dubai job boards and apply.

If you have tailored your CV for the role, optimised your CV for the Dubai market and are a good fit, the recruiter will make contact with you.

Remember to ensure that you have an up-to-date telephone number on your CV and application (preferably a Dubai number).

You should also make sure you are using a professional-sounding email address, not the dumb one you created when you were 16!

2. Connect with Dubai recruiters over LinkedIn

Again, Dubai recruiters receive hundreds of LinkedIn requests. So if you're going to use LinkedIn make sure you follow my advice below.

You can be absolutely certain that every Dubai recruiter uses LinkedIn. You can also be sure that they will be active on the platform on an almost daily basis.

Send a connection request. Before you just hit connect, 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. This message should tell the recruiter a little about yourself and why you think it would be mutually beneficial to chat. 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?

Use LinkedIn InMails. The above process can take some time as you have to wait until the Dubai recruiter accepts your connection request. However, you can bypass these steps 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.

You can access free InMails when you sign up for a free trial of LinkedIn Learning. (affiliate)

3. Connect with Dubai recruiters via email

When I first moved to Dubai, I spent time sourcing the email addresses of the recruitment companies that I wanted to connect with.

This was a time-consuming process but it was worth it. I then sent out an email to introduce myself, this approach worked very well.

Although sending a message through LinkedIn is often easier, recruiters can often be overwhelmed by the number of messages they receive.

Sending an email directly to their work email address is a better approach.

Make sure you write your email really well. It should not be too long and should lay out the most important information as succinctly as possible.

Our Dubai toolkit includes pre-written scripts to help you craft engaging emails, plus the email addresses of the recruiters that you need to contact.

Download it here.

4. Connect with Dubai recruiters over the telephone

Many people shy away from the telephone but it may be worth trying this approach in order to connect more instantly with Dubai recruiters.

Every recruitment agency in Dubai will have a direct telephone line that you can call.

Our toolkit contains the telephone number that you need.

Visit 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.

You should also attach an up-to-date copy of your Dubai CV in your follow-up email.

What should you expect from recruitment agencies in Dubai?

A‍s you now know, a reputable recruitment agency can add a lot to your job search.

But you should also remember that Dubai recruiters don't work for you. Dubai recruiters work on behalf of their clients.

It's the client that's going to pay their invoice, not the candidate.

Knowing what you can and cannot expect from a Dubai recruiter will help you to align your expectations upfront.

This in turn will help you to form a good working relationship.

Expect knowledge and expertise of your industry

Any good recruiter will have worked to develop a deep insight into their chosen field.

A Dubai recruiter who knows your industry inside out will be able to tell you such things as; which firms are good to work with and which are not so great.

They will tell you which companies are hiring right now and which ones are laying people off.

They will also know how buoyant the market is and the current hiring trends.

A Dubai recruiter that’s good at his or her job will always have their ear to the ground and will be a great source of inside information.

Don’t be afraid to mine that gold, ask questions and find out as much valuable information about your industry as you can.

Most candidates stop talking to their recruiters once they find a job, this is a mistake.

The people that maintain an ongoing relationship with their recruiter are usually the first ones to find out about new and exciting opportunities.

These are the people that benefit the most from recruiters in Dubai.

Expect honest feedback

If a Dubai recruiter knows your industry, they will know how easy or difficult it might be for you to find a job in Dubai.

They’ll know how in demand your skills are, how relevant your experience is and how competitive your target roles are.

A top Dubai recruiter should be able to tell you how realistic your expectations are, and even if your ideal role exists at all!

Based on all of this information, you can adjust your approach, manage your expectations and conduct a smart job search.

A really great recruiter who has developed a thriving network might also be able to get you access to roles that might not necessarily be advertised.

Remember though, even if a recruiter is negative about your chances of finding a role, it doesn’t mean you won’t.

Many great opportunities come as a result of networking in Dubai and developing relationships, don’t forget this!

Expect advice on your salary expectations

It’s really important to be aligned on salary expectations upfront.

There’s nothing worse than going all the way through a gruelling interview process, only to be offered a salary that’s below your expectations.

You need to understand the cost of living in Dubai, and what someone like you can realistically earn.

The numbers have to make sense, you need to make ends meet. An experienced Dubai recruiter should be able to give you a pretty good indication of your potential earnings.

It’s not just about salary in Dubai, additional benefits play a large role in a Dubai compensation package.

Such benefits might include schooling allowances for your children, transport allowances, annual bonuses, sign-on bonuses or family medical insurance.

A recruiter should tell you upfront, which companies in your industry are likely to offer the salary and benefits that you’ll require to make life work for you in Dubai.

Expect interview preparation support from a Dubai recruiter

A good Dubai recruiter should take the time to prepare you for your interview.

Afterall, it's in their interest for you to get the job!

In my opinion, the better the recruiter, the better interview preparation you’ll receive.

This is one of the great benefits of being represented by a recruiter, as opposed to applying to an organisation directly.

Your Dubai recruiter should know something about the person that will be interviewing you.

They will also have an idea of the style of interview that you’ll experience and the kinds of questions that you might be asked.

They might even run you through some mock interview questions, help you put together a presentation if it’s required, and answer any questions you have about the interview process.

Interview preparation is particularly important if you are going to go through a behavioral or competency based interview.

Don’t be afraid to ask for interview preparation and make sure that you ask as many questions as you need to in order to feel confident and prepared.

Expect to receive feedback on your interview

Another great benefit of being represented by a recruiter, is access to interview feedback.

You can guarantee that as soon as the interviews are over, a good Dubai recruiter will be on the phone to the organisation to find out how you performed.

You should expect this feedback to be passed onto you in a timely manner. This is something that you might want to agree with your recruiter up front.

It’s in your benefit to know how your interview went.

Learning from mistakes and taking feedback onboard is an important part of a successful job search process.

You should expect a good Dubai recruitment company to be onboard with this.

Expect a Dubai recruitment company to handle your salary negotiation

Even though a recruiter is not working directly for you, they are representing you.

This means you should  think of them as an intermediary between you and an organisation, especially when it comes down to salary negotiations.

You should be prepared to negotiate the first offer that you receive in Dubai.

It’s unlikely that you’ll be offered the top end of the available salary band first time around.

So it’s always worth going back and asking for more.

When you’re dealing directly with the company, this can be a really awkward position to be in.

This is where a recruiter can really help, they should be the ones to go back and negotiate on your behalf.

Once an offer is presented to you, go through it with your recruiter, and identify any areas that might be open for negotiation.

In Dubai, this might mean asking for a higher basic salary, or a better housing or transport allowance.

If there is no room for negotiation on the salary, a lump sum sign on bonus might be available to sweeten the deal, or the company might be able to pay your relocation costs or cover the costs of a hotel for a month whist you find a place to live.


Be creative and look for ways to make the offer more appealing for you

If a company really wants you to join them, they’ll be open to making it worth your while.

Your recruiter should know where there might be some wiggle room in your offer.

They will also know how hard you can push, and when you are at the point where you should accept the offer in hand and get started.

Remember, the more you get paid, the better the recruiter’s commission.

It is in the interest of any Dubai recruitment agency to negotiate the highest salary possible.

They also don’t want you to lose out on the role completely, as they will earn nothing for all their hard work up until this point.

What not to expect from a Dubai recruitment agency

Mismatched expectations are often the source of frustrations.

It’s important to know what you really shouldn’t expect from a recruiter in Dubai

Don't expect constant contact from a Dubai recruitment agency

Recrutiment companies in Dubai work with lots of candidates.

Each recruiter will be working on multiple roles at any one time.

You should therefore give them space and time to come back to you with feedback. You should not chase them daily as they may find this frustrating.

Don't expect a Duba recruiter to represent you alone for a role

A Dubai 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.

Don't expect 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.

Don't expect from a Dubai recruitment agency

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

How to develop a good relationship with Dubai recruiters

The quickest way to sour your relationship with a Dubai recruiter is to misslead them or withhold important information.

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.

Therefore you might find that recruiters in Dubai ask you to provide information that you would not normally be accustomed to providing.

You should not be put off by this, it is normal. Without this information, a recruiter may find it difficult to move forward with you and represent you for roles.

A Dubai recruiter may ask for the following information‍

  • Current salary
  • Salary expectations
  • Family status
  • Visa status
  • County of origin
  • Passport origin

You might need to provide this information in order for organisations to process your Dubai visa.

Companies often need to know upfront if they can process a visa for you or not.

You will be asked about your salary expectations.

They do this because organisations don’t like to take a candidate through a long process only to have an offer rejected.

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


Finding the right Dubai recruitment agent can make all the difference to your Dubai job search.

In fact, it can shave months off the process and save you a lot of wasted time, effort, money and frustration!

It's important to do your research first and identify 2-3 Dubai recruitment agents specialising in your industry.

You will probably only end up working with 1-2 of them, but that's absolutely fine.

You don't want to be working with too many Dubai recruitment companies at the same time.

When you make contact, aim to make the right first impression.

The quality of the initial message that you send will usually determine whether or not you get a response.

Remember to build a positive relationship with your chosen recruiter, and make sure you set out your expectations early in the process.