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How to Get an HR Job in Dubai as an Expat

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai is a city that’s best known for its innovative architecture, luxury shopping, and beautiful, balmy weather. This makes it not only an ultra appealing place to live but an ideal place to work as well.

Being that Dubai’s economy is young and fast-growing, there’s an abundance of opportunities that exist within this culturally diverse city, especially for in-demand HR roles, which is why people professionals from all over the world jump at the chance to experience life in this metropolis.

If you’re interested in experiencing the glitz, glam, and excitement for yourself, here’s how to land an HR role in Dubai if you’re an expat.

Dubai Buildings

How to Get an HR Job in Dubai as an Expat

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1. Get the proper Visa

While holders of full British passports flying into Dubai will receive a free 30-day tourist visa upon arrival in the UAE, if you’re planning to start work right away, you’ll still need to obtain the proper work visa before you can legally begin your employment.

The easiest and most common way to obtain a work visa as a foreign expat is to get sponsored by an employer before entering the UAE. They’ll apply for a residency visa on your behalf once you’ve accepted your new HR position, whereupon you’ll be eligible for a work permit from the Ministry of Labour once that’s been approved.

If you can’t find an employer to sponsor you before you leave for Dubai, not to worry! You’ll still be issued a tourist visa, as mentioned above, while you job search.

These types of visas allow you to stay in the UAE for 30 days (with the option to extend) while you search for employment. Once you find and accept a position, you can then apply to transfer your visa status

2. Pass your medical tests

Countries around the world are cracking down on health and safety measures more than ever due to the pandemic, and the UAE is no exception when it comes to their current government entry requirements.

This means that before arriving in Dubai, you’ll need to be tested for the coronavirus, and you can find all applicable details and guidelines here.

Once you’re granted access into the country, however, you’ll also need to undertake a few preliminary medical tests while your visa application is being reviewed; this includes a physical exam and a series of blood tests.

While we know an afternoon at the doctor’s office might sound bleak, keep in mind that every foreign national applying for residency visas in Dubai is subject to these examinations as part of the application process to ensure your health is treated as a priority.


3. Meet the language requirements

Since English is widely used in Dubai and the UAE as a whole, being competent in English will be an essential requirement for most - if not all - HR business roles.

If you’d really like to make an impression, however, many employers also prioritise candidates who have even a basic knowledge of Arabic. If you’re not quite there yet though, that’s okay! There are tons of great resources, such as mobile phone apps like Duolingo, that can get you started before you arrive.

After all, communication is key in this industry!

4. Brush up your CV

If you’re heading to Dubai as an expat with no current sponsor, you’ll most definitely want to brush up your CV so that it shines through to potential employers. This means carefully outlining your relevant HR education, like an online CIPD HR qualification, along with your relevant HR work experience.

Don’t worry too much about whether your qualifications will be recognised by Dubai employers either. The UAE education system is quite similar to the UK, so there’s not often any confusion, and CIPD HR qualifications are widely recognised and respected. Should you run into any recognition issues, however, you can find out more at ENIC-NARIC.

Once you’ve finished with your CV, we’d also recommend aligning your LinkedIn profile with your CV too as it will give you more visibility with HR professionals in your area. This will not only help open up doors for networking with like-minded individuals but also create a gateway for new potential job opportunities too.

5. Branch out - everywhere

Speaking of networking, reaching out to your professional network via LinkedIn, email, phone or text can do wonders for getting your HR career started in Dubai. In fact, the city is actually known for favouring internal and employee-referenced candidates! 

A few ways to best utilise your network to your advantage include: 

  • Starting with your current relationships:
    This would be your friends, family, or business contacts for a chat.

  • Checking in with your other connections:
    Try past clients, customers, or even related professional organisations.

  • Determining where you stand with these connections:
    Pick up the phone if there’s an active relationship present, set up a Zoom meeting if it’s been a while, or send a friendly social media or email message to reconnect if you’ve lost touch.

Trust us, getting your feelers out there and letting people know what you’re looking for is the most powerful way to get ahead.


6. Search and apply

As is the way of the world these days, applying online is going to make up a large component of your success in getting an HR job in Dubai as an expat.

Investing some time in job searching on Dubai job sites will give you a glimpse into the current job market and what you can generally hope to expect salary-wise from one HR position to the next., for example, is a favourite amongst Dubai jobseekers, as well as Laimoon, Indeed, and - you guessed it - LinkedIn.

We recommend that you begin your job search immediately and apply to the jobs you’re interested in, even if you’re still a bit on the fence about making the jump overseas.

Having a good idea of what you’re looking for, what you’re qualified for, and what’s available will increase your chances of getting sponsored and help take away a lot of the initial stress of settling in once you arrive in Dubai.

7. Consider a recruitment agency

It’s not uncommon for companies big and small to hire recruiters to headhunt the best HR talent in Dubai - or anywhere else for that matter.

The HR industry is an in-demand and competitive market, and employers want to know they’re hiring the most qualified people for the job. That’s why it’s in your best interest to submit your details and CV to well-known recruitment agencies who can help you along in your job search. 

Plus, recruiters tend to be paid by employers to find them the right people, meaning they’re invested in your success as much as you are

If you’re stuck on who to reach out to, check out some of the best recruitment agencies in Dubai as of 2021.

We hope these seven essential points to getting an HR job in Dubai have helped you get your ducks in a row for your next adventure overseas. Good luck!

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