Career Guides and Resources

  • The top 10 resume mistakes and how to avoid them
    The best form of defence is attack, and that's what you need to do to make sure your CV is a targeted weapon. That means no mistakes. Here's a checklist to run through.
  • 1. Typos, bad English
    A recruiter is looking for an excuse not to consider your application, and bad grammar and typos gives him an excuse to put your application in the special file marked the bin. A badly written CV shows you are disinterested or that you just can't spell. Either way, it's fatal. Check it yourself, and get someone else to go over your CV - it is easy to miss mistakes in your own copy.

    2. Just the facts
    Have you provided relevant contact details - have you entered the right numbers?

    3. Don't be passive
    Can you shake things up, can you solve problems, will you walk into your job running? If you can - great - you're what your employee is looking for. The question is: have you communicated this with your CV?

    To do so you need to drop the passive verbs, and use active ones. For example,

    Don't write:

    Managed a team of sales professionals for 18 months

    Do write:

    Built a highly organised sales team. Led it to record sales in three straight quarters.

    Use: built, won, drove, inspired, sold. Don't use I.

    4. Don't be vague
    Your employer wants to be impressed, and to see that you know your business. Details help. State what you have achieved, with action verbs, and use numbers where possible.

    5. Customisation counts
    One size does not fill all. A senior post in particular demands that you understand the position, and that you tailor your achievements to that job in your CV. Read the job specification carefully. Look for key words in the text the reveal the kind of personality being looked for, and what the employer expects the right candidate to be able to deliver.

    6. Don't be dull
    No one wants to know your duties (I attended the weekly sales meetings); they want to hear your achievements (Used leads from the weekly board meetings to add ten active clients to my roster).

    7. Don't be flabby
    Tell your story - but don't make your CV too long, or cut it down so much it says nothing at all.

    8. Mission statements
    If you are going to write a mission statement avoid MBA style buzzwords, and generic meaningless phrases. Be clear and precise as to what you are looking for. Who isn't a "Team player", who would claim not to have "Project management skills"; if you're not "Results orientated" - you have problems; "People management skills" is a pre-requisite, not a clincher.

    9. Design
    Make your CV pleasing to the eye. How your CV is presented tells a story about you. Are you visually aware, do you care enough about the job to present the information well? Your CV is sending signals to your employer. Make sure they are the right ones.

    10. Don't put it off
    If you see a job you're interested in, don't delay putting together the application - do it the same day and send it the same day. Thousands of jobs have been lost because the applicant never got round to sending in his CV...

  • Top 50 interview questions
    One way to prepare for an interview is to work on potential questions they may ask. Most interviews start with a discussion of your CV, and you need to be able to tell its story, know the dates, and be able to flesh out its content with greater detail about your achievements.
  • If you're caught out by misleading, or inaccurate information on your CV, it's game over. So know it inside and out.

    However, there are more generic questions you will be asked, outside the parameters of your CV. Good answers to these questions will not only help you land the job, but get the pay package and/ore conditions that you are looking for.

    Some of these questions are genuinely hard, and do require some soul searching. No matter how painful, it's better to force yourself to do this before you get to the interview, rather than finding yourself unexpectedly revealing fatal flaws during it.

    Top Questions

    1. Does managing in the Middle East differ from managing elsewhere?

    2. In what countries have you worked - what were the differences?

    3. Have you managed a multicultural team before?

    4. What were the challenges of running a multicultural team?

    5. Give me an overview of who you are/your experience?

    6. What's your greatest strength?

    7. What's your greatest weakness?

    8. How have you managed a difficult situation and brought out a positive outcome?

    9. When have you failed? What did you learn from it?

    10. What is your proudest achievement?

    11. Describe your management style?

    12. How do you like to be managed?

    13. Why should we hire you?

    14. What would your employees say about you?

    15. Why do you want to work for us?

    16. Who else are you talking to?

    17. Describe the perfect job?

    18. What are you earning now?

    19. What salary do you expect?

    20. What would you do in the first month of this job?

    21. Have you ever fired anyone before? How did it feel?

    22. How would you build confidence in your manager?

    23. How would you get your team's trust?

    24. What's your favourite book/film - why?

    25. When were you last seen to fail? How did you handle the criticism?

    26. Do you live to work or work to live?

    27. Which boss/leader have you/do you most admire - and why?

    28. Do you have any questions?

    29. When can you start?

    30. Why are you leaving your present job?

    31. Why did you leave?

    32. What did you rate your previous boss?

    33. What technical/personal training do you need?

    34. Describe the type of people you like to work for?

    35. When have you been the happiest?

    36. How would you fire someone - describe the meeting?

    37. Where do you see yourself in 18 months?

    38. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

    39. You win the lottery - what do you do?

    40. Describe yourself in five words?

    41. What do you think you can bring to this job?

    42. What questions should I have asked you, but have not?

    43. How has this interview been handled?

    44. How would you judge my performance in this interview?

    45. What do you think of this city?

    46. How long have you lived here? How long do you think you will want to live here?

    47. Are you willing to relocate?

    48. If you were asked by your company to do something that broke the law, would you?

    49. What is your greatest fear?

    50. Name three positive traits you don't have?

  • Your guide to networking
    The chances are that if you're applying for jobs you haven't been an effective networker in the past. The best networkers know the jobs that are available in their industry before they are posted, and if they are interested, have already had a word in someone's ear.
  • They are in short a force for good.

    Despite that many people don't like to network. They feel it is beneath them, or somehow underhand. That, however is because they don't get it. Networking is not a transactional selfish exchange. It is often quite the reverse. It is an act of communication, an exchange of useful information that helps get the right people to the right positions.

    Here are the ten steps to being a great networker:

    1. Help others
    Many people start networking only after they've lost their jobs. Effective networking means creating contacts and relationships while still employed. If you've helped find people positions in the past, you'll already be having conversations with people about jobs you may be interested in, and be in a very different position when you are looking for a particular role.

    2. Know what you want
    If you attend networking events without being very clear about what you want, then you will not know who to target, and even if you find the right person, what to say.

    3. Prepare
    If you're a natural networker, this won't be a problem. If you're starting now because you don't have a job, you will need to practice what you say, and how you say it. Don't have a script, but do know how to answer questions, and think about how to guide conversations.

    4. Listen
    Some people are natural listeners, other people natural talkers. Networkers know how to do both, and moreover when to do both. If you don't listen, you won't pick up the nuggets of information that may lead to a job. If you don't have anything to say, how can people buy into you?

    5. Overcome objections
    Don't ask, don't get. Don't be shy - ask direct questions - are you employing right now? If the answer isn't what you want to hear, look for value in the conversation: Will you be in the near future? Do you know any companies that may be? Can you give me any advice on whom I should speak to..?

    6. Don't be shy?
    No matter age or position, some people are just shy. However at certain points in your life, it will be a luxury you cannot afford. If you are looking for a job this is such a time. Get over it: Don't be a wallflower, don't stand on the sidelines. Talk to people, be confident, stand upright and be proud.

    7. Look the part
    Image matters - dress the part.

    8. Give back
    When you do get a job, don't forget how you got it. Just because you found the job of your dreams does not mean that everyone else has. Pay back the favours have been given to you, and you hope will be in the future.

    9. Enjoy it
    Meeting people is an interesting, rewarding experience. Don't treat it as a chore, but an opportunity to find out about other people, and make connections that matter - personally and professionally.

    10. Make it part of who you are
    The more you network, the less you'll notice you are doing it.


    Contact Networking Dubai

    Dubai Business Network

    Add your networking group here

  • The power of a follow up letter
    I had the interview in Claridges in London. The job was for a Middle East publishing company, and I really wanted the job. The interview had gone well, but not great. Frankly, it had been hard to get a word past the interviewer. He was too busy telling his story to listen to mine.
  • But that didn't matter. The prize was the job of editor, on a magazine that I had always admired, in Dubai - a city I could imagine myself living in, with a salary that was certainly respectable. But what could I do now - the horse had bolted, and with it the interviewer. My time was up.

    There was only one thing to do - and that was send a follow up email to the interviewer, and to the existing editor in the UAE who had short listed the applicants, to thank them for seeing me and somehow convince them I was the one - without sounding desperate. I wrote, I added detail, I explained I remained very interested, and would be committed to the move.

    Gentle polite emails were exchanged - "thank you", "no thank you", "NO thank you" - etc. but the trail seemed to go cold. I was, I discovered, not first choice, not second choice, but unlucky number three. It didn't make me happy, but it was the magazine's loss I decided.

    I wrote again: "Naturally I am disappointed not to have been chosen, but I want to thank you again for seeing me. Please let me know in the future if there is any way I may help. I would like to be involved one day - kindly keep me in your thoughts going forward..."

    And that was that. Or so I thought.

    Three weeks later I got an email - "Come to Dubai, we want you for the job...

    Why the change? Well, at the time I didn't ask - obviously the company had come to its senses and realized, rightly, that I was brilliant.

    What I discovered later on was not that the company had realised the error of its ways, but that number one and number two had failed to show up at Dubai airport. Because of my follow up emails, however, I had remained top of their backup list, and when their chips fell, my star rose.

    By the time I discovered this, I was well into the job, and had done well. My pride took a small hit, but it was already history (and obviously my employer had a moment of idiocy). More to the point I was in. And I was loving it.

    The message of this story is that the follow up letter can do it for you. It isn't guaranteed to get you a job, but it can and often does help - often in ways you would never imagine. Add detail, show you remain committed, be polite and stars will collide, magic spark, applicants not turn up, and the job of your dreams land on your lap. Well... it could - and that should make it enough for you to do it...

  • UAE Guide: living and working in the Emirates
    In order to work in the Emirates you must have a valid employment visa and to live (rent a property, open bank accounts, buy cars) you must have a valid residency visa.
  • Once in Dubai, there may occasionally be a requirement for you to leave the country and return in order to activate' or renew your visa. Your company will inform you whether this is necessary.

    Visa rules and regulations are prone to change by the government, however your company should keep you updated of any further requirements. The visa charges for employees are almost always paid for by your employer however sometimes that cost is clawed back if you leave before a certain period of time - under six months for example.

    Many international and local banks are represented in Dubai. You will be able to open a bank account when you first arrive, although you will not be able to use all the facilities - notably cheque books - until you have a residency visa. You will be able to get a credit card, however.

    Cheques are important in Dubai - you will need to deposit cheques with your landlord when you take your tenancy, and leave tens of cheques when you buy a car - if you take a loan.

    Usually your company will have a preferred bank which should be willing to offer services such as car and housing loans and will be more helpful when it comes to opening your account and administering the paperwork. Choosing a bank will depend on your personal needs.

    Travel within Dubai
    The only way to travel within the emirates is by car. Taxis are relatively cheap and easy to find.

    Major hire car companies are represented in Dubai with the most economical car costing approximately Dhs.1500 per month (approximately 250). You are able to drive a hire car in the Emirates using some international licenses.

    Buying & running a car
    Buying a car in Dubai is relatively simple. You must hold a residency visa and you may need finance. The car must be insured and registered. This can be taken care of by the agency you are buying the car from, but it is worth shopping around for the best interest rates and lowest insurance premiums.

    The finance can be taken between 1 and 4 years. Interest is worked out yearly, and most often offered on a "flat rate" as follows:-

    A car costing Dhs.50,000 over 4 years will cost 50,000 x say 5% interest = 50,000 x 5% = 2,500 = 2,500 x 4 years = 10,000 = 50,000 + 10,000 / 48 months= Dhs.1,250 per month

    Payment to the lender may be done by direct debit but more commonly it involves writing out the appropriate number of cheques, i.e. finance over 48 months could mean writing and signing 48 post-dated cheques.

    Driving Licence
    In order to drive anything other than a hire car you must have a valid UAE driving license. Holders of valid British (and some other) driving licenses can obtain a UAE license without an additional test. As soon as your residency visa is completed, it is illegal for you to drive in the UAE on anything other than a valid UAE license.

    Companies often assist new employees obtaining the license although it will require your presence at the traffic police HQ for a few hours.

    The form must be typed in Arabic.

    You will also need to pass an eye test (cost approx. Dhs.25) which is available from most opticians or can be done at the Dubai Traffic Department when applying for the licence.

    If you do not hold a relevant international license you will be required to take a series of lessons and then a test. This can take a period of several months.

    The UAE driving license is valid for 10 years. It is the responsibility of the employee to ensure your license is valid.

    Paperwork required: Valid residence visa, existing driving license, application form, passport copy and original and eye test certificate.
    Cost: For transfer from UK to UAE license approx. Dhs.150.

    Look out for all the usual catches. If you are buying a 4-wheel drive, for example, ensure that the car is insured offroad and in Oman. The insurance usually covers the car, regardless of the driver as long as he/she has a valid UAE license. Get full advice and details from your insurance agents.

    Paperwork required: UAE driving license, passport copy and existing registration.
    Cost: Approx. 4 - 6% of vehicle value

    Registering your car
    This can be taken care of when you first buy your car, but has to be renewed every year. You will need to have any driving fines paid in full before renewing the registration (see below). There is a charge for vehicle registration.

    Paper work required: License, existing registration and insurance. It has to be fully insured before registering.
    Cost: Approx. Dhs.360

    Driving offences
    It is essential that you obey and respect the laws of the UAE. Apart from the police patrols and checkpoints that it is possible to be stopped at, there are a number of speed cameras around the Emirates. These will take a picture of a speeding car and the driver will incur a fine. Occasionally this is sent to you but more often then not, the first you will hear about it is when you come to re-register your car - It has been known for the number and amount of fines to come as an unpleasant surprise.

    Different emirates have different levels of fines and the fine often has to be paid in the Emirate in which the offence was committed (i.e. you will need to drive back to Fujairah to pay a for an offence committed there). You can keep yourself aware and pay the fines regularly by calling an automated system.

    Hospitals & Medical facilities
    Hospitals in the Emirates can vary in quality although the level of facilities in both public and private hospitals is high. Should you require regular treatment from a specialist you should ensure that there are trained staff and medical centres before you arrive.

    Alcohol licence
    Although alcohol can be bought and consumed in the majority of the Emirates, it should be remembered that, as an Islamic country, the UAE has strict alcohol sale and consumption laws.

    You are allowed to drink in licensed bars and restaurants as long as you are not a Muslim.

    It is illegal to buy, transport or keep at home alcohol without an alcohol license.

    It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol.

    Non-Muslim residents in possession of a liquor license can only buy alcohol in the UAE from special licensed retail outlets. The license entitles you to purchase a prescribed amount of alcohol per month and can only be used in other emirates to that in which it has been issued, if the police of the other emirate(s) has endorsed it.

    Sharjah does not permit the sale or purchase of alcohol within its borders.

    Paperwork required: Passport - original, passport - copy, employment contract - copy, 3 passport photographs, Tenancy contract - original
    Cost: Approx. Dhs.250.
    You must: Be a resident and have a monthly salary exceeding Dhs.4,000. Allow approx. 4 weeks for completion.

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