This article summarises the highlights of a survey we recently conducted with candidates in the Middle East around the subject of job applications in 2021: where are they applying for new roles, what time of the day, how often are they applying, are they tailoring their CV and including a cover letter?

There is no denying it: the pandemic changed the employment market in 2020, and the effects of the global health crisis will continue to be felt for many years across many sectors. 

With any increase in unemployment, there is a corresponding increase in applications to open roles. One question about this increase is where do job applicants put their efforts when applying to open roles in the Middle East?

The most popular website for job applicants in the Middle East is LinkedIn, with 53% of candidates using the site to find and apply for open roles. The second most popular website for 26% job applicants is employer sites, with recruitment consultancies the favourite of 24%, and social media sites the least favourite.

With recruitment consultancies key for 24% of job applicants who look for jobs every day, there are benefits for employers using a specialist not only to hire top talent, but also to benefit from their understanding of the employment market and which skills are in high demand in any sector. 

This information is important for hiring managers, as it can give an indication of where they should focus their efforts in terms of job ads promotion, and when thinking of using a recruitment partner. 

If you are a hiring manager, download our 2021 Middle East Salary Guide and Hiring Insights to learn about the post pandemic job market. 

When do candidates think it is too late to apply to an open role? 

Other key statistics our recent survey found relate to the frequency people apply for jobs and when they consider it too late for a role. In general, 53% of applicants use LinkedIn everyday, 21% several times a week, and 10% once a week. 24% apply for roles via recruitment firms everyday, 27% several times a week and 12% once a week. 

This statistic tallies with job applicants checking when the job ad was posted - 7% of applicants in the Middle East said they felt it was too late to apply for a job after it had been live for 2-3 days, compared with 15% who felt it was too late to apply when the job was live for 5-10 days. 

However, with 21% saying they would still apply for a role even if it was live for over 10 days, it seems as though the quality of a position will prompt a dedicated job seeker to send their CV in. 

These figures suggest that candidates want to apply for newly opened roles so they don’t get lost in a process, suggesting they think they will be more likely to have their application viewed by a hiring manager if they apply to a ‘fresh’ job. 

And in terms of time of day for applications, it seems as though candidates in the Middle East follow the saying “the early bird gets the worm”, with 40% applying in the morning. Although not all of our job applicants think like this - 37% apply at any time of day, and only 6% use their lunchtimes to find new roles. 

What approach do job applicants take: apply to all open roles, or only ones that match their profile? 

When applying for open roles, candidates in the Middle East generally look for positions that match their skills and experience, with 69% following this path, and only 8% applying for all roles. 

Further statistics from the survey suggest that candidates today know about keywords on CVs and in cover letters, with 21% adapting their CVs for each role they apply to, 23% alter their CV most of the times and 25% only sometimes. Their knowledge of keywords and of applicant tracking systems (ATS) means that job seekers today are very aware of the why behind adapting a CV for a specific role. 

Read more about the importance of keywords in CV and cover letter.

But why specifically do job applicants take the effort of tailoring their CV according to the role? 41% said they do this to increase the response rate from the potential employer, with another 49% explaining that they know it adds value to an application. 44% adapt their CV because the role is a perfect fit, meaning they want the opportunity to interview, and know a role specific CV is the gateway to this. 

40% of job applicants adapt their CV to meet a specific job description, potentially highlighting many people’s ability to perform one or more roles in their specific skills area. 

To send a cover letter or not send a cover letter, that is the question

Job applicants in the Middle East are very aware of the importance of cover letters when sending in an application – or at least 22% of them are, as they include one with every CV sent. 

15% include a cover letter specific to the role, and 24% include one sometimes and specific. However, a surprising 37% only send a cover letter when it is mandatory. Which prompts the question – why do candidates include a cover letter? 

50% explain it is to prove their relevance for the role, 47% to communicate their experience in an engaging way and 38% to demonstrate their understanding of the role. With 16% saying they include a cover letter to add keywords/phrases from the job description, are cover letters growing in importance? 

Cover letters can help an application pass through specific points of a job application process by helping the candidate detail their history in an engaging way, and by meeting search terms from the potential employer. 

If you want advice on writing job descriptions, asking for cover letters or any part of the hiring process, Michael Page Middle East’s team of expert recruitment consultants are here to help you. Simply get in touch via this form, or find your local office from our contact us page, here

1,030 job applicants based in the Middle East participated in this survey.