Been out of work? It is still possible to get a job

"In the UAE for example, employers are more than ever before stressing on vital personal and professional traits and qualities such as good communication skills in both Arabic and English, the ability to work in a team and showing flexibility [and] ability to work under pressure. (AFP)

Anya Reid (name changed), in her mid-30s, stopped working nearly three years back due to personal reasons. Now, she wants to start working again but believes that getting back into the workforce after such a long time seems a difficult task. "I'm a chartered accountant and stopped working to take care of my baby.

Now that she's big enough I want to go back to work. I approached a headhunter. He told me that it's difficult to get a job after this lapse and I was recently rejected by a multinational firm. I feel very dejected and think getting a job again is a uphill task," she said.

There are many others like Anya who believe that getting back to work after a rather long period is not easy.

The longer one is unable to get a job, the harder finding a job becomes. Employers are hesitant to hire applicants that have a long history of unemployment, no matter how great their qualifications.

It is a known fact that the corporate environment tends to frown upon applicants who have been out of work for too long. However, it is not a lost situation, say experts and the readily availability of such people can be an advantage. Moreover, the reason for being out of work is also critical.

"Historically, employed people find it easier to find work, and negotiate higher packages. However, sometimes being immediately available can have its benefits if an employer is in a hurry to close a position.

However, employers will often have greater scope to negotiate if a person is unemployed. It also makes a big difference how long someone has been out of work," Hasnain Qazi, Middle East Business Manager at Huxley Associates, told Emirates 24|7 . 

According to Cliff Single, Commercial Manager at BAC Middle East, this "really varies across job types and individual cases. I have seen it work both ways.

If someone has been out of the workforce for an extended period of time this can be a disadvantage, particularly if they are applying for a technical or managerial role, unless the time has been utilised to develop new professional skills or gain additional qualifications," he said.

"Employed job seekers often find themselves in a better position to negotiate their offer (in terms of salaries and benefits) than unemployed candidates but the latter have the advantage that they can start immediately and depending on their reasons for being unemployed and the length of time they have been unemployed, the latter group are often able to compete very strongly if not neck-to-neck for the same jobs.

Obviously, lengthy periods of unemployment are harder to explain but by no means in today’s job market are professionals necessarily shunned for taking sabbaticals or time off to explore educational or other interests.

The fact is the notion of recruitment has changed in the Middle East today. Employers are no longer seeking experience and education background only in potential candidates," explained Lama Ataya, Chief Marketing Officer at

"In the UAE for example, employers are more than ever before stressing on vital personal and professional traits and qualities such as good communication skills in both Arabic and English, the ability to work in a team and showing flexibility [and] ability to work under pressure. Leadership traits and trustworthiness are also deemed very important," she added.

Experts believe it may not be easy if the candidate is out for job for more than two years. "Very difficult" said Qazi, "as employers generally prefer people with fresh and recent experience and who can hit the ground running."

The <>  expert believes that this may become easier if some work has been done during this period. "Re-entering the market should be a smooth step as long as candidates are doing their part and keeping their skills brushed up and their information up to speed during their time off work.

Some key pointers our career experts recommend professionals who take a year to 2 year gaps are to - stay abreast of industry happenings and the latest trends in their fields during their time off.

Being unemployed does not necessarily imply they completely isolate themselves from the business world. They should remain an active reader and knowledge seeker via online magazines, newspapers and industry publications to ensure they stay up-to-date and their knowledge base is not obsolete.

"Keep their skills sharpened: Either keep attending conferences relating to their field of work, registering for online courses (that they can take at their convenience from home) or even registering to earn a new certificate related specifically to their field and for which they can study from home i.e.: CPA for accountants, CFA for financiers, PMP for project managers, new software certifications etc.

This not only gears them up mentally to renter the workforce but it also ensures their skills are cutting-edge and potential employers know they are serious about their career and mean business! "Keep active online:

Professionals should make sure they’re networking in the right circles and even finding platforms to ask advice about jump-starting their career.

Leading regional job sites have their own social networking groups and communities where they can meet and network with like-minded professionals," she added.


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