Finding a job in Dubai - nail your CV, an interview and beat the competition
Regional recruitment experts James Pugh of Headway and Alan Donahue of Jivaro Partners share their industry insights on nailing your CV and landing that dream role if you are one of those on the road to finding a job in Dubai.
Start with your name as the title, in bold, not ‘CV’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae’. The reader knows what it is – you want them to remember who you are.
Try to keep the CV to two pages, punchy and to the point. Think about what the person reading it wants to hear. They don’t need to know that you have completed your 50-metre swimming badge (unless this is a requirement of the job) and they certainly don’t want to read your favourite inspirational quote, but they might like to know that you were awarded “best newcomer” in your last role.
Think about what is relevant and tailor your CV to the role you are applying for. This does not mean add details you have not done, instead think about the role and what skills you have that are going to be important. Research the company and use the job advert to work out exactly what skills you should point out to them.
The format is extremely important. Use bullet points and make the layout easy on the eye by not overwhelming the reader.
Keep sentences short and don’t try to make it stand out with colours or a fancy background. People like CVs to be clear and concise. Write it in black, and use an easy to read font. When you have finished it, print it out and ask a friend if it looks professional and easy to read.
Make sure the CV is in chronological order, with the most recent job first and don’t leave gaps. A gap on a CV leaves room for doubt, so even if you have been out of work, mention what you have been doing; a course to develop your soft skills or volunteer work is certainly worth mentioning.
Don’t use a photo unless the role requires it (a modelling or promotions job, for example). Your CV should sell you, but if you do need to include a photo make sure it is one of you in business attire, and not on a night out.
Make what you say count. For example, in a sales role, rather than explaining your role by saying you set up and attend meetings to close clients, quantify it by telling the reader that you exceeded your target in 2012 by 120 per cent, bringing in Dhs4 million worth of new business. Back up your achievements with numbers.
Use the spellchecker when you’ve finished. Ask someone else to read through it for any grammatical errors. Readers do look for mistakes on CVs and if they find them, it gives a very bad first impression.
Remember that your CV is an ongoing document, not just to be written when you need a job, so keep it current. If you have an achievement at work that is worth mentioning, or a promotion, add it in.
THE JOB SEARCH
Do not apply for jobs that you are not suitable for. This may go without saying, but applying for an account manager role at an advertising agency when you are an accountant in a bank is definitely not going to win you any prizes with a recruiter. And it will leave you feeling rejected. Target your jobs carefully.
Do your own research on the recruitment industry. Many recruiters only specifically recruit in a vertical market (eg. for one industry). Sending your CV to an oil and gas recruiter when you work in banking is not going to help you out, and wastes everyone’s time.
Do not write a huge cover letter or ‘objective’. Most recruiters and hiring managers don’t read them. Keep it short and sharp with key bullet points instead. Remember, sometimes less is more.
Do research. Researching the company you are interviewing at, the manager you are meeting, the company’s clients, and the places they operate can make a huge difference. Fail to prepare = prepare to fail.
Do keep your recruiter informed. Tell your recruiter exactly where your CV has been sent. Duplicating a CV is a recruiter’s worst nightmare and it will not win you brownie points. It makes the recruiter look unprofessional and makes you look like a desperate jobseeker.
Do arrive at an interview in appropriate business attire looking your very best. It sounds simple but you would be shocked at the amount of people who do not do this.
FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER…
… USE ON YOUR CV
01. Try: You should do and achieve, not try.
02. References available on request: Employers are well aware of this, don’t waste precious space on your résumé.
03. Dynamic: Yes, your résumé should reflect your better points, but don’t come across as boastful or arrogant. Allow the interviewer to decide whether you qualify for such an assertion.
04. Team player and leader: Give examples to demonstrate these roles, don’t just use buzzwords.
05. Responsible and reliable: These are the very basic requirements of any job. They are expected, so don’t include them.
… SAY IN AN INTERVIEW
01. I don’t like my job: Don’t be negative about your employers or your current position. The only person it reflects badly on is you.
02. I don’t have any questions: You should always have a few questions prepared to show interest.
03. How many holiday days I am entitled to?: Find this information out when you’re offered the position, until then it’s not a concern.
04. I have no weaknesses: It’s common to ask a candidate about their weaknesses. Rather than denying you have any, don’t answer with one that relates to the job you’re applying for. You can also try and add a positive spin, turning a supposed weakness into a strength. For example, “I can be overly diligent,” isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
05. I love your shirt: Keep the conversation strictly professional. You’re not trying to make a friend, nor do you want to say anything that may be misconstrued.
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With opportunities now far beyond your nearby town or city, the importance of having a strong digital profile is growing by the day. We’ve enlisted the help of LinkedIn, to bring you hints and tips of making yourself appealing to those who can find you online.
Getting a job on LinkedIn
Build your network before you need it. Having a strong network is essential. It represents those you know and trust, and you can utilise it for recommendations and ask for introductions into a job or opportunity that you are interested in. No matter how the economy or your career is doing, having a strong network is a good form of job security. Don’t wait until times are tough to nurture your network.
Ensure your profile is complete and up-to-date. Your LinkedIn profile is your chance to showcase your skills and talents and help the right people and opportunities find their way to you. As your professional representation online, you can set it to be discoverable through the millions of searches on leading search engines and on LinkedIn. Members with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.
Get LinkedIn recommendations from your colleagues or previous managers. A strong recommendation from those who have worked with you highlights your strengths and shows that you were a valued employee. Actively reach out to your past managers and work colleagues to get recommendations from them. One of getting recommendations faster is for you to give recommendations to your connections.
Get the word out. Tell your network that you’re looking for a new job. Use your LinkedIn ‘status update’ and let those in your network know you are now looking for a new position.
Check if a company is hiring. Use the ‘follow’ company feature to follow companies that you are interested in seeking a position and check if they are hiring.
Get straight to the person that is hiring. LinkedIn’s job search engine allows you to search for any kind of job you want and lets you see the individual doing the hiring. Find people you have in common and if suitable ask them to introduce you. Another way to find companies that you have ties to is by looking at the ‘Companies in Your Network’ section on LinkedIn’s Job Search page. LinkedIn allows you to save your searches to keep a record of careers and people that interest you.
Building a strong profile
Don’t cut and paste your resume. LinkedIn hooks you into a network, not just a human resources department. You wouldn’t hand out your resume before introducing yourself, so don’t do it here. Instead, describe your experience and abilities as you would to someone you just met. And write for the screen, in short blocks of copy with visual or textual signposts. Add a photo so that people can recognise you.
Borrow from the best marketers. Light up your profile with your voice. Use specific adjectives, colorful verbs, active construction (“managed project team,” not “responsible for project team management”). Act naturally: don’t write in the third person unless that formality suits your brand. Picture yourself at a conference or client meeting. How do you introduce yourself? That’s your authentic voice, so use it.
Write a personal tagline. That line of text under your name? It’s the first thing people see in your profile. It follows your name in search hit lists. It’s your brand. (Note: your e-mail address is not a brand!) Your company’s brand might so strong that it and your title are sufficient. Or you might need to distill your professional personality into a more eye-catching phrase, something that at a glance describes who you are.
Put your elevator pitch to work. Go back to your conference introduction. That 30-second description, the essence of who you are and what you do, is a personal elevator pitch. Use it in the Summary section to engage readers. You’ve got 5–10 seconds to capture their attention. The more meaningful your summary is, the more time you’ll get from readers.
Point out your skills. Think of the Specialties field as your personal search engine optimizer, a way to refine the ways people find and remember you. This searchable section is where that list of industry buzzwords from your resume belongs. Also: particular abilities and interests, the personal values you bring to your professional performance, even a note of humour or passion.
Explain your experience. Help the reader grasp the key points: briefly say what the company does and what you did or do for them. Picture yourself at that conference, again. After you’ve introduced yourself, how do you describe what you do, what your company does? Use those clear, succinct phrases here—and break them into visually digestible chunks.
Distinguish yourself from the crowd. Use the Additional Information section to round out your profile with a few key interests. Add websites that showcase your abilities or passions. Then edit the default “My Website” label to encourage click-throughs (you get Google page rankings for those, raising your visibility). Maybe you belong to a trade association or an interest group; help other members find you by naming those groups. If you’re an award winner, recognized by peers, customers, or employers, add prestige without bragging by listing them here.
Improve your Google PageRank. Pat your own back and others’. Get recommendations from colleagues, clients, and employers who can speak credibly about your abilities or performance. (Think quality, not quantity.) Ask them to focus on a specific skill or personality trait that drives their opinion of you. Make meaningful comments when you recommend others. And mix it up – variety makes your recommendations feel authentic.
Build your connections. Connections are one of the most important aspects of your brand: the company you keep reflects the quality of your brand. What happens when you scan a profile and see that you know someone in common? That profile’s stock with you soars. The value of that commonality works both ways. So identify connections that will add to your credibility and pursue those.