UAE job market sees upturn but no change in salaries

Employment in financial, sales and marketing, and human resources sectors flourishes the most, says survey.

The UAE's job market is showing an upturn and the sectors that have seen the most positive changes are finance, sales and marketing followed by human resources, according to a new survey polling human resources experts across the country.

The survey, conducted by networking group Pink Slip Dubai and market research firm Insight Discovery, looked at how the recruitment market is changing. It polled 92 human resources professionals, headhunters and recruiters across nationalities and emirates.

Sixty-four per cent of all respondents said they had witnessed an upswing in the market for these jobs. Eighty per cent of these respondents further highlighted that they have seen the employment market increase by between five per cent and 20 per cent in 2010 in comparison to 2009.

The sectors that have seen the most upturn are finance, sales and marketing followed by human resource and the sectors that have seen the most downturn have been real estate and construction.

Salaries in the UAE have remained the same as 2009, according to half of the respondents, while 36 per cent of respondents have seen a decrease in salaries. Those that have seen a decrease have seen a fall of between five per cent and 25 per cent since 2009.

Craig Pointon, Managing Director, Carmichael Fisher Executive Search, told Emirates Business: "Competition for positions available in the UAE is fierce. Organisations have more choice when looking to hire in the current economic environment for many mainstream roles. Generally salaries have decreased in Dubai and to a lesser extent in Abu Dhabi also. However, for senior leadership roles and also industry areas where skill sets are scarce, candidates can still command a premium and certainly not less than the salary levels we witnessed in 2007 and 2008."

The survey said that current environment has seen a shift in candidates willing to relocate to other regions in the Middle East, with 91.3 per cent of respondents saying that candidates are willing to move elsewhere. In the survey, 90.5 per cent of respondents said they have seen an increase in candidate's willingness to move with 59.2 per cent of respondents saying that this has increased by five per cent to 20 per cent from 2009.

Pointon said: "The market dynamics have unfortunately forced some individuals to have to consider opportunities outside the UAE. Saudi Arabia and Qatar appear to be most active in hiring currently, so the more open candidates are to relocation, the more opportunities are likely to present themselves. That being said, organisations outside the UAE are tending to put candidates through much more rigorous selection processes to ensure they are not looking for a short- term fix to stay in the region with a view to returning to the UAE when the market improves." According to the survey, there is a positive increase in candidates looking at the Middle East, with 89 per cent of respondents saying that they deal with candidates outside the region. And 75.6 per cent of respondents have noticed positive interest by international candidates looking at the region and 62.9 per cent said this has increased between 15 and 25 per cent from 2009.

Lourda Sexton, Founder of Pink Slip Dubai, said: "This result is backed up by the positive interest I have seen by candidates internationally looking for access to the UAE job market. I have seen candidates from over 50 countries come to our website in the past two months highlighting the international interest in the UAE as a potential recruitment market."

Pointon added: "The region is certainly on the global map. We are still seeing candidates from across the globe show an interest in the region. However, questions that are asked more commonly now are focused around the organisation and the stability of the potential relocation. Interest remains in the UAE with candidates keeping an open mind to opportunities in other countries."

Networking was cited as being the number one way to increase candidate's chances of finding a job with more than 54 per cent of respondents saying this.

Sexton remarked: "Networking is a sought-after choice by candidates in the current job climate with networking events allowing candidates to meet with other job seekers as well as meet recruiters and employers directly. They results of this survey highlight the growing importance that candidates should put into networking while looking for a new role. Times have changed and the job market is not what it used to be, networking will help you open doors."

According to the survey, other ways to increase their chances are to produce tailor made CVs. Pointon said: "Generally candidates will be competing with at least two other qualified professionals for a role. What gives people the edge? Preparation. In order to be successful, candidates should spend time researching the organisation they are interviewing with and the individuals they will be meeting during the process. It is also important to prepare a few intelligent questions to ask at the end of the interview and ensure that you be yourself. Good references are also important."

The biggest concern when hiring candidates is hiring the right match/fit for the job, say 86 per cent of respondents. Debabrat Mishra, Management Consultant, said: "With the experience of the economic downturn fresh in everyone's mind, the biggest concern for employers continues to be manpower planning. Most employers in the Middle East adopted a heuristic, thumb rule based approach to manpower planning in the past, which in turn led to large-scale lay-offs during the downturn. Unless employers adopt more scientific approaches to manpower planning in the recovery phase, they will be constrained to take the right decisions for hiring and rehiring.

"The other challenge for employers is dealing with the choice between fresh talent looking to move to the region due to the global economic scenario and talent which has experience in the region. Both talent pools have their own pros and cons, striking a good balance in the mix would be crucial for employers."

Recruiters and head-hunters have seen a slowdown in fees been paid by clients with 66 per cent of respondents facing issues with late payment and almost 1/5 of those respondents facing more than 90 days delay. More than half of the respondents stated that clients are willing to pay success fees.

Human Resource professionals were asked are recruiters overall better or worse than before the crisis and the biggest complaint was they have seen high consultant turnover. The recruitment practices of HR departments has seen a shift with 40.7 per cent of respondents stating that the hiring practices they mostly use was in house followed by online job sites.


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