Working nine-to-five (well, six actually)

My husband’s prediction came true… whilst I couldn’t wait to be a trailing spouse and a lady of leisure for at least all of 2017, he gave me three months until I decided I was bored and started looking for a job, true to form my husband was right, exactly three months after arriving in Dubai I was offered (and accepted) a job.

Looking for work in Dubai is somewhat similar to the UK although anything goes on the job adverts; employers can ask for males aged 30+ / females aged 22-25 / unmarried women with no children, which feels really alien after spending most of my working life in England and with a stint working in HR and Resourcing where I audited job adverts for potentially maybe possibly appearing to veer toward implying the company wanted a male applicant or one of a certain age group, UAE adverts really are whatever the employer wants. Many adverts are also very informal for small local companies, so I realised quite early on that job boards were not going to get me what I wanted (Personal Assistant / Executive Assistant roles) so I changed my approach and took to LinkedIn.

I searched for UAE recruitment agencies and then scoured their advertised jobs section. Most UAE job adverts for professional jobs will ask for UAE experience and a degree as essential requirements. I’ve successfully been a PA for ten years without a degree so I know a degree is not required and presume companies use it as an instant filtering mechanism, so I knew I had to get my CV in front of some expats who now owned/worked for recruitment agencies.

I found and targeted a few agencies with British recruiters and it paid off – I received a call the next day inviting me to meet with one of the agencies – fantastic result! In between the meeting request and the actual meeting, the agency had been asked to recruit for an Executive Assistant maternity cover, 9am-6pm four days a week for five months at a trading company, I agreed to let the agency send my CV across and amazingly they wanted to interview me. The next day I squeezed into the one work dress I had brought with me (luckily after three months in loose fitting clothing and a weekly portion of caramel covered French toast I managed to wriggly around enough to get the zip fastened up all the way up!). I found my way to a tower in Jumeirah Lakes Towers and much to my surprise my “interview” was actually more of a chat/get to know the top-dog and the EA I would be covering for, she was British and an expat too which I think worked in my favour…

Definitely worked in my favour as I was offered the role the next morning. After a quick talk through with my husband, and a little bit of excited dancing around the living room (we made a deal on arrival that if I worked out here we would hire a cleaner, possibly a lot of the dancing was freedom from housework!), and we agreed I should take the job!

A few hurdles in the UAE if you’re looking for work…

  • You will need to have your ID card / residency visa to start work
  • Ladies, you’ll need a no-objection letter from your sponsor (your husband or father) to allow you to work
  • It’s likely the bank will require a letter from your employer to confirm your salary
  • Something to bear in mind; the basic legal maternity allowance is just 3 months

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