This article has been contributed in January 2021 by Hayley Wilkins, Senior Manager – Customer Engagement & HR, Michael Page Middle East 

We have seen some big improvements in job activity at Michael Page Middle East in the last 5 months. Organizations new to the region are in touch to look at ways of setting up in the region, perhaps as a result of quicker recovery from the pandemic in the Middle East compared to Europe or the USA. There are also organizations that were able to navigate their operations during the difficult months of 2020 and now can re-evaluate or expand their organization structure. We are also seeing a good job flow from the booming industries that have been fed from the pandemic, such as FMCG, Digital and Healthcare.

The busiest markets in the region are Saudi Arabia (with great opportunities coming up for both Saudi talent and expat talent in the HR space), Abu Dhabi, and coming through the ranks, Qatar. Qatar has been quietly building up over the last three years, and with the restrictions now lifted, this is a country to watch. Also, as an HR recruiter in the region, I would encourage professionals to evaluate if they are active job seekers and want to stay in the region.

  • If you are a HR candidate looking for a role this year, whether you are active or passive, take some time to think about what you really want from your next role. Write your priorities down and at the interview stage, make sure you are comfortable you have fulfilled each one. Ask questions and research if you have not. We know salary is important but it's no longer the be-all and end-all.
  • There are very few purely ‘strategic’ positions in HR around these days and all positions require an element of hands-on capability and being able to understand the basic operations of the HR function (including how to process a visa). You must be prepared for this, as HR teams have been stripped back to basics in recent years and will require building up again.
  • There is a demand for proven experience in employee engagement initiatives and performance management so if you have them, highlight your achievements in this space.
  • There are more junior roles than senior ones in the specialist space (Learning & Development, Talent Acquisition) so if you are a senior specialist, think about how your skills can transfer into a generalist role. Tailor your CV to be attractive to a generalist position, it’s easy to forget that someone reading your CV may not identify you have the transferable skills in Human Resources if it’s purely L&D focused for example.
  • If you’re new or junior professional in the market, consider taking a short course in local labor laws so that you can confidently say during the interview you have invested time learning it. There are 1000s of people trying to get a job in the Middle East, so find ways to stand out. If you don’t have a certification already, consider obtaining a CIPD – I am asked for this from potential employers a lot these days.
  • Make sure your CV is up to date and full of your achievements (not your job description) and review your online brand. Read our article on six great ways to market yourself
  • Salaries have come down slightly and benefits are changing. But remember your worth, have a minimum you will take if all your other boxes are ticked. A note of caution to employers – you may get someone cheap for a role right now, but the market will improve and the first people out the door will be the people you did not value from the start. It will cost more money long term to hire another person and a great HR person that you pay a bit extra for will save you money too!
  • We have just launched our 2021 Middle East Salary & Hiring Insights guide which is packed full of information across all disciplines, job types, and levels. This information is collected by our Dubai consultants through interactions and data from our candidates and clients so you can be assured that it is relevant and up to date for this market. 

If you are looking for new opportunities, browse our Human Resources jobs in the Middle East. You can also create a MyPage profile to submit your CV, receive the latest job alerts and access our Career Advice. For more information, visit our Candidates page. 

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