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Finding a Job, CVs, Interviews and Etiquette for Expats in Saudi Arabia

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: December 2015

Finding a Job

It is graudally becoming harder to find work in Saudi Arabia due to the policy of Saudisation, which grants Saudi citizens preference over other candidates. Nevertheless, at present there are still plenty of jobs available. Note that the Saudi government does not issue tourist visas, and it is hence not possible to go to Saudi Arabia ‘on spec’ and find a job.

Hence the most convenient way to search for jobs is by using online job portals. These enable you to start your job search before you leave your home country. On most of these sites, you can filter your search according to job function, industry, salary or location, and search for keywords. Some of the most popular online job sites in Saudi Arabia are the following:

Note that some of these websites cover the greater Gulf region. There are not many vacancies advertised in English-speaking Saudi newspapers, though there are also some Gulf-wide ones that do. Some Saudi and regional newspapers that have job sections are:

Alternatively, you can turn to a private employment agency based in your home country. Beware some agencies are dubious organisations. Hence it is vital to check the agency you are planning to engage with is accredited and reputable. It is also possible you will require the services of a local employment agency. For a comprehensive list of employment agencies in Saudi Arabia, see World Job Sites.

Networking is an important source of job leads, and if you do have any connections, you should make every use of them you can. Lastly, keep an eye out for career fairs and exhibitions, and look at ‘Vacancies’ sections on the websites of organisations that interest you (this is particularly effective for Saudi Aramco). You could also make speculative applications to these organisations. For more information on job prospects in Saudi Arabia, see Work Culture and Labour Market.

Saudi society is patriarchal to say the least, though there are still job opportunities for women. Positions in English teaching and healthcare work are available, and there are also organisations such as women’s banks.

CVs

As your curriculum vitae or CV (résumé) is an introduction to a potential employer, it is essential to make it strong, highlighting your academic qualifications and professional experience. As a general rule, if the advertisement for the job in question was in English, you can write the CV in English, otherwise it should be in Arabic.

The CV must be well structured and formal in style. First you should list your personal details: your name, age, nationality, marital status and religion. After these should come your contact details, then the main body of the CV. Typical main body sections include Employment History (or Work Experience), Education and Training, IT Skills, Language Skills, Voluntary Work, Scholarships and Interests. Try to keep to information that is relevant to the job and reduce or remove the rest.

Arrange education and employment history sections in reverse chronological order, accounting for any gaps. When listing your academic qualifications, include dates attended, the name of the educational institution, study programme, degree obtained and your study subject. Employment History should include start and end dates, job title and name of the organisation you worked for. Include brief details of primary responsibilities in your recent jobs.

In all correspondence with your prospective employer, check that your spelling and grammar are correct, avoid using informal language and explain any abbreviations used. If you are a man, you may want to include a photo; photos of women are not normally expected.

Cover Letters

Employers may require a cover letter with the job application. This should be drawn up as a formal business letter no longer than one A4 page. The letter should explain why you are applying for the position and show how your skills and qualifications match the employer’s requirements. It should also highlight what you will bring to the role and demonstrate how well you know the firm and position you are applying for. The administrative part of the application process will be handled by your sponsor, which will normally be your employer.

Interviews

When preparing for a job interview, it is crucial to show that you understand how the organisation operates, what its objectives are and how you could contribute to its success. Interviews in Saudi Arabia are generally formal affairs. Although most interviews take place in person, in recent years, telephone and video interviews have become common, especially when the candidate is in another country.

Many interviews start with “Tell me about yourself”, which is a prompt for you to give a brief summary of your background and current situation. Subsequent questions will test how your skills match the interviewers’ requirements. This gives you the opportunity to show your motivation and argue why you are a good candidate for the position. Some interviewers ask cunning questions that probe your ability to think on the spot. Finally, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions about your potential future role.

Some Saudi-based international companies and large domestic companies use recruitment assessment centres. The assessments involve a day or two of presentations, group work, written tests and other exercises designed to demonstrate your suitability for the role. For more information on interviewing techniques and sample interview questions, see the Bayt website.

Etiquette

When attending a job interview, remember that punctuality is everything! It is better to arrive a few minutes early than keep your potential employer waiting. Another important rule is to dress appropriately. Even if the organisation does not have a specific dress code, it is still best to choose business-wear in discreet colours. Women should avoid using eye-catching jewellery or heavy make-up. Throughout the interview, make sure to sit up straight and make appropriate eye contact with the interviewers. Show that you are professional and do not forget that a smile can take you a long way!.

Once you have successfully obtained a job, you may be eligible for a work pass. For more information on how to apply for work permits, see Expats Working in the Immigration section.

 

 

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