How to Get a Job in Dubai (and how not to)

How to get a job in Dubai (and how not to)

Polishing your CV reflects initiative. Telling outright lies reflects on your character.

We’ve got some vacancies and I’ve been interviewing.

One applicant looked particularly promising. As he lives in India I emailed him to arrange a telephone interview and called him at the agreed time. The interview went very well. He was enthusiastic, keen and had a great telephone manner.

He got to the second interview phase. Again over the phone and this time by Mr HW who is the MD of our company. Mr HW grilled him and went through every aspect of his experience.

With both of us satisfied, we offered him the job.

For nearly a week, we heard nothing. Then on Saturday afternoon I get a call from the applicant, Sunil.

After a few pleasantries, Sunil became cagey and awkward. He evidently had something on his mind and I assumed he wanted to negotiate the salary. So I waited patiently to hear his opening.

When he finally got his words out, my biggest surprise was that I was not surprised at all!

Sunil said he wasn’t actually Sunil. He was his brother Sanjay. The real Sunil doesn’t speak a word of English and has only had one job delivering newspapers. So Sanjay took the interview on Sunil’s behalf to give the real Sunil a chance of getting a good job abroad and hence bettering his chances of attracting a good wife.

However, Sanjay had not expected to become attracted to the job himself and wanted to keep it for himself rather than pass it on to his brother.

Madam“, he said to me. “I want to be honest with you. You have treated me well and I can tell you are a good person, very professional. Also Mr HW is a good man and wise. So I want to be truthful with you and confess I did this to help my brother.”

He paused waiting for a reaction. I asked him to continue.

I could have continued this charade and sent my brother. Or even pretended to come as my brother but I want to be honest. I want this job, it is a good opportunity and I will be good and dependable for your company.

The man who had deliberately faked an interview to get my company to pay visa costs and flight to his grossly unqualified brother continued trying to justify his deception for another half hour.

Sunil’s passport number was listed on the CV and had been one of the first things I had checked during the initial interview. I have no doubt that this was the reason Sanjay felt compelled to admit to the deception rather than appear on our doorstep as “Real-name-Sanjay-nickname-Sunil”.

This is just one of the many ways desperation drives people to act in ways that don’t show them in a good light.

Although Sunil/Sanjay/Whatever didn’t get the job, with so much unemployment in India, I can’t really blame his creativity.

However, some practices are a disrespectful waste of time – you might think you’re the only person who’s had that “wonderful” idea, but in reality there are more applicants than there are jobs and so many of them are up to the same time-wasting tricks.

If you are an employer advertising a vacancy, I suggest you don’t put your telephone number in the advert and that you use a disposable email address. You’ll get thousands of applicants, mostly for positions you’re not advertising for.

Basic Protocols for Job Seekers

If you are looking for a job, here are 5 ways to dramatically improve your chances of getting one.

1) Read the job description before applying

  • If the vacancy is for an experienced salesman and you once had a job as a packer and now want to apply for the accounts position that isn’t being offered, do yourself a favour and move on to the next advert.
  • Take notice of the listed salary and working hours. They’re not random numbers – they go with the job.

Not Neg, As Stated, Fixed” are all short for Take it or Leave it.

2) One company per email

If you are tempted to trawl through Dubizzle harvesting email addresses in order to send one blanket application to all companies offering any type of job that day, know that your CV never makes it into the Read pile.

3) Consider your first impression

  • Is your CV relevant to the position you are applying for? Does it showcase your experience or do you assume the employer will automatically know what you did if you simply list the companies you have worked for?
  • If you get a phone call at 11am inviting you to an interview, don’t yawn and tell the caller to ring you later as you are presently taking a nap.

4) Attend the interview on your own

Your mother, uncle and friend are welcome to drive you to the interview location and wait for you. If they insist on coming into the interview with you (or pretending to be you or doing all the talking for you), I’ll enjoy the spectacle but you won’t get the job.

If you are ready for a job, you are ready to sever your emotional umbilical cords and hit the world alone.

5) Keep your lies believable

I’ve come to learn to take CV’s with a pinch of salt. Especially the ones that come with a proud declaration at the bottom claiming “everything on this CV is true to the best of my knowledge”.

Just think for a second – If you can’t read/write/speak English and if this is one of the criteria for the job, how long can you keep this hidden? Jobs really do require the skills that they list!

Sunil’s legacy is that in my company at least, you’ll get tested thoroughly – both at interview time and during your probation.

Share your tips – how do you polish your CV and keep to the truth?

5 Responses to “How to Get a Job in Dubai (and how not to)”

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  1. Nimmy says:

    I love dis article…. well done!!

  2. nida says:

    I am amazed someone can pull off this charade and not get caught till the very end.

    I am a job seeker ( Marketing Background) as well but inspite of having all the credentials , the following things go against me;

    1- Less than 5 years experience
    2- Not a native English speaker or Arab National.

    What advice would you suggest?

    • Happywitchie says:

      Hello Nida,

      It all depends on your expectations and how much effort and time you are willing to invest in your job search.

      It depresses me when I have people applying for marketing jobs when I am clearly offering a sales job.

      So my tips for you are as follows:
      1) Have several versions of cover letters prepared so that you can send out the one that is most appropriate for the job that is being advertised (See

      2) Don’t get hung up on your experience or the English or the nationality. These can be overcome if you prepare yourself for success. Instead of thinking these things go against you, focus on the qualities that you CAN sell. Since you’re in marketing, start by marketing yourself – what marketing principles can you bring to your attitude and job search strategy?

      3) Send your CV only to jobs you are interested in. Nothing will depress you more than blasting out 10,000 indiscriminate CV’s a day and not getting a single reply…. if you read that article in my first tip, you’ll understand why these people don’t get a reply.

      4) Prepare yourself for success:-
      a) Know exactly what your skills are and how much (or how little) more you are willing to learn
      b) Rehearse your interview answers. There are hundreds and thousands of practice questions online. Go through as many as possible make your answers become authentic and fluent
      c) Find meetup groups where you can naturally network with new people who can introduce you to their companies. A lot of jobs are filled through networking. You need to do A and B first so that you create the best possible impression when you land an interview
      d) Dress smartly and appropriately for the position and be polite to every single person you meet in the building. For example, if I find out a candidate has been rude to my receptionist, I won’t employ him because I don’t want that kind of person in my company.

  3. Ardie says:

    This is a perfect article. It is true that everyone, every applicant must be very honest when it comes to interviews when getting a job. Hiding something at the first place will only mean that you cannot be trusted with a job. That means, if you are hired, you might just waste time of the company giving false information. Thank you for this wonderful article.

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