Recruitment: Healthy advice for expatriate jobseekers

Fewer jobs were advertised in the UAE during July, says Ben Flanagan, but one profession saw a particularly healthy growth in the number of work opportunities: medicine.

Recruitment website found that there was a 22 percent decline in UAE online job postings during July compared to the same month last year.

But some sectors bucked that trend, the Monster Employment Index (MEI) found. Healthcare was the fastest-growing occupation for recruitment, with 12 percent more jobs advertised, while consumer goods was best performing overall sector, with 25 percent more listings.

Here Sanjay Modi, regional managing director for, explained the hottest trends in the UAE recruitment market

Monster’s latest index shows a 22% decline in online job postings in the UAE. What do you attribute that to?

It is difficult to identify a reason for the drop in online job postings at this point as this is not a trend we have witnessed over a period of time. It is not uncommon for a dip to appear amid rises, therefore it is important to look at the data over longer periods of time to achieve a more comprehensive perspective of the market. On the contrary, the UAE was among the more promising markets in the region over the past few months. In May for instance, the UAE recorded the steepest year-on-year rise in online job postings in the region at nine percent growth. At this time, we do not think this is an accurate representation on the UAE employment industry. It will be interesting to observe the figures over the coming months as the UAE works towards enhancing many aspects of the nation including healthcare, education and technology. This is already evident with the growth in online job postings in these industries.

In which sectors are there more, or fewer opportunities for expats to find jobs in the UAE, and what’s driving this?

In July 2016, we observed a strong demand for medical professionals. The segment grew 12 percent, as compared to July 2015. This is not surprising, given the development of the Dubai 2021 Health Strategy and other exciting plans ahead in the industry including the construction of new international hospitals across the emirates, a modern medical university worth $2 billion, as well as the implementation of high-tech sensors, biometric readers and even robots for medical procedures. With this in mind, opportunities are bound to arise across key pillars supporting the initiatives – such as construction, technology and education.

The outlook appeared to be less optimistic in the hospitality sector with an annual dip of 38 percent in online job postings as compared to July 2015. This could be due to the low oil prices which have restricted corporate travel for events and conventions, and subsequently driven down hotel occupancy levels. As a result, Dubai observed an 8.9 percent drop in room rates during the first five months of 2016 as well, leading to smaller revenues.

Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman bucked the wider trend in the GCC and Egypt, recording positive year-on-year growth in job postings. What are the factors behind that?

The MEI from July 2016 registered Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman as the only nations with a positive year-on-year growth with an annual 11 percent increase in online recruitment activity in Bahrain, and 10 percent in Kuwait and Oman. This is significant when one considers that these countries draw most of their income from oil. More importantly, it indicates that broad economic visions – such as the Bahrain Vision 2030, Kuwait Vision 2035, and Oman Vision 2020 – are already underway in cultivating more advanced markets. In Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman, national reform plans already appear to be boosting efficiency and effectiveness across various industries. With the right focus on further diversification, industrialization and privatization, markets across the GCC have great growth potential in a post-oil era, transforming into financial and commercial hubs.

One finding of the survey was that the oil and gas sector in Saudi Arabia is recruiting at the fastest pace of all sectors in the Kingdom, with a 46% growth over the last year. Does that suggest that the oil price crisis is over?

It was very interesting for us to observe a 46 percent growth in oil and gas online recruitment. Although the global oil price continues to be lower than pre-2015 rates, there has been a slight increase in prices over the past few months which may indicate the industry is slowly recovering. There has also been a lot of activity in the field witnessed in the Kingdom which could have had a positive effect on recruitment in oil and gas. According to Reuters, for example, KSA has plans to add more than 5 billion standard cubic feet per day of non-associated gas processing capacity to meet rising market demands, and Petrofac is the front-runner to build a gas treatment facility at Uthmaniyah gas plant which could cost approximately $600 million. These developments suggest the growth is more likely to be in the gas sectors than the oil sectors.

Sanjay Modi’s top five tips for boosting your chances of finding the right job in the UAE:

  1. Stay ahead of the latest industry developments to identify new trends and acquire the latest information and skills needed in the market.
  1. Tap into your network of contacts; connect with alumni and old colleagues and friends for recommendations or potential job opportunities.
  1. Create online profiles on leading recruitment websites to find out what other vacancies are available in your industry. Make sure you regularly refresh your online CV as this will ensure your profile it is always on top of search results.
  1. Make use of some excellent career services offered by many online recruitment sites that can make your job hunt faster and easier.
  1. Stay positive; building momentum for concrete changes and improvements today will have a big impact tomorrow

Who is recruiting in the UAE?

Change in number of online job listings in UAE, July 2016 vs July 2015

Top growth occupations

Healthcare      12%

Engineering and production   7%

Hospitality and travel -2%


Lowest growth occupations

Software, hardware, telecom -21%

Customer service        -33%

Finance and accounting          -38%

Top growth industries

Consumer goods         +25%

Production, manufacturing, automotive        +8%

Engineering, construction and real estate     +6%

Lowest growth industries

Banking, financial services, insurance           -22%

Oil and gas      -33%

Hospitality       -38%