Elena is the Careers Counsellor at The University of Manchester Middle East Centre, Dubai
Hays – the recruiting company - has published its latest Salaries and Employments Trends of the GCC market, with this year’s trends generally follow a similar pattern set in the previous 12 months, with higher/lower headcounts running at similar levels and with protracted low energy prices feeding a cautious approach to hiring. However, employers are being more selective when it comes to selecting new people; in addition, the application process is getting longer and tougher as employers want to make sure they are getting the right person who really will add value.
In this tough environment, how can a candidate make an impact and get noticed?
Here are 5 tips for a more successful job search from a range of employers and recruitment/careers professionals.
1. Know yourself.
We are all different; so know what you want and focus on it; it may sound simple but understanding your own motivations, strengths and weaknesses, and what sort of career journey you want, and in which industry, all help you to focus your effort where you have a genuine interest, passion. This raises the chances of success (as long as you have the persistence and patience required).
If this means that you need to switch careers, then you also need to appraise your skills and see how relevant and transferable these are for your target sector. If you want to move to an MNC or into management consulting, you may need to consider investing in new skills such as executive education programmes or an MBA.
2. Sell yourself (and your soft skills).
Most CVs are very similar and follow a standard template; how do you stand out and get noticed? First, tailor every application for the job and don’t just send a bland CV and vague cover letter.
In your CV focus on your soft skills – show your personality (and build your personal brand) and not just a standard list of positions held, and education; what interests and excites you, what makes you curious, what motivates and satisfies you? Demonstrate your Emotional Intelligence and ability to deal with situations.
Remember, ultimately, it’s the soft skills that will set you apart.
Even better, contact your list of target companies directly and speak to them, test your career aims and current skills against the reality of the industry – can you build relationships with people already in the company, industry or type of role you are looking for?
Remember – sending an email or a LinkedIn message is just the beginning of the process and not the end of the communication; make it personal, explain what you want, introduce yourself, know the recipient as much as you can or you will be lost among the other tens of millions of people on the platform.
Find your story and tell it.
4. Find a mentor
Find someone you respect and trust and who is willing to build a mentoring relationship with you; it may be a senior executive in your organisation or a retired successful business person with a wealth of knowledge, experience and wisdom. Your mentor can be a guide and sounding board, official or unofficial.
5. Build a professional network
A professional network of genuine contacts is invaluable – this is not a job hunt but a process of building relationships with people where there is mutual professional interest, respect and these may be from within your industry, broader business groups or beyond – people who may challenge your ideas and help guide you and your career.
Don’t try to fake it – you will be found out; business and social relationships should be mutually beneficial and respectful, and not used for personal career advantage.