How To Unlock Dubai’s Hidden Job Market By Networking

Do you know that only a small amount of job seekers find their jobs through the open jobs market, that is through: internet jobs boards, newspaper ads and ‘help wanted’ ads. While we don’t have specific figures for Dubai, some US Department of Labour figures — which I believe have universal application — suggest that only 5% of jobs are obtained through the open market and an overwhelming 95% are found through other means. These other ways of finding jobs can be broken down as follows:

  • 24 % of candidate’s get jobs by cold-calling
  • 23 % of candidates get jobs through agencies and careers services
  • A massive 48% get jobs through referrals and word of mouth.

Yes, in most cities in the world including Dubai, I believe (and research suggests) that most jobs are being filled through this secret and hidden job market via employee referrals and word of mouth. And if you rely simply on jobs boards and help wanted ads to find work you are missing a large piece of the Dubai jobs market.

And so if you want to maximize your chances of gaining employment in Dubai, you need to know how to tap into this secret job market. Fortunately, there are many ways to penetrate the secret word of mouth job market and one of the most effective way is through Networking and we will focus on how to do that effectively in this article.

Networking is the key…

Of course, the topic of Networking is especially timely as Gitex Technology week, (one of the largest technology conferences of its kind in the world) is upon us and with 140,000 conference attendees representing 3,500 technology companies this represents one of the largest and most potentially fruitful networking opportunities for candidates in Dubai during the calendar year.

But, of course do not worry, if you do not manage to make Gitex as there are a range of business exhibitions and conferences occurring in Dubai throughout the year and they are all events where you could make potential employment contacts – and you should therefore prepare yourself to network effectively. And below I have set out several tips and best practices to help you do this.

7 Networking Tips

  1. Prior to attending the conference, go through all your social media profiles and on-line CVs and make sure they are current and presented to the highest standard.
  2. Prepare some business cards which contain all your contact details, both on phone and social media and ensure to prepare a promotional tagline/slogan for yourself which markets your brand.
  3. Update your resume/CV and ensure to take several printed copies with you as you never know who you might meet.
  4. Make sure you research the conference and understand what companies are there and what people are speaking and attending. If you spot any people or companies who you are interested in, make a note and set a target to meet them or a representative of their company. You can even contact them before the event and make plans to meet them.
  5. Set a target for the number and type of people you want to meet and make sure to do this. Yes, make sure to work the room. Approach people and don’t wait for them to come to you.
  6. When talking to people, try and find out what their key challenges, initiatives, goals are for the next six months and you may discover some common ground and you may find you are in a position to help them meet a challenge – or you may know someone who can help.
  7. Finally, make sure to follow up with anyone  that you exchange business cards with by connecting with them on Linked-In after the event.

Done well, Networking can be an effective mechanism for unlocking the secret job market, by enabling you to make contacts and hear whispers and gossip about jobs and to be considered for these jobs long before they are advertised.

About the author

Kazim Ladimeji is the Director of—a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers. It includes a blog with career and small business advice articles. Kazim is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practising HR professional for 14 years.

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