Get a head start in job market

University recruitment officers are finding it harder to guarantee graduating students with job opportunities in a competitive job market. While some students pursue post-graduate and doctoral programmes, many start looking for jobs early.


Muaz Shabandri

Published: Tue 9 Nov 2010, 11:32 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:08 AM

Inderjot Singh completed his engineering course from a university in Ras Al Khaimah in June. Having graduated with excellent grades, Inderjot started applying for jobs with high hopes.

“It’s been four months since I started sending out my CV. Most of the employers require work experience and being a fresher, my hopes of finding a job have reduced considerably,” says Inderjot.

Employers say hiring fresh graduates usually involves spending time and money on training them for the job.

“Students have a hard time finding jobs because they need value-addition even after completing their educational programmes. Companies tend to focus on hiring employees who are able to adapt quickly and start work from the first day itself,” says Cliff Single, commercial manager at BAC recruitment.

The need for educational institutions in the UAE to work together with companies for job creation is greater than ever, experts say.

“At this point of time, the outcomes of higher education providers are not meeting the expectation of employers, both in terms of quality and quantity,” says Dr Ayoub Kazim, managing director of the TECOM education cluster.

“Students need to look beyond conventional career options and consider taking up new careers. More jobs are being created in the tourism and healthcare sectors and there is a need for skilled professionals in these emerging sectors,” adds Dr Ayoub.

While there are fewer jobs, companies are opening up internship opportunities for students. Internships offer students with valuable practical experience and offer them an opportunity to apply their classroom knowledge to a workplace, says Najla Al Awadhi, one of the youngest women members of the Federal National Council who is a role model for many young Emirati women.

“Students should seize opportunities and learn to train with companies in a practical work environment. Getting real-life experience through internships and temporary jobs is invaluable to a student CV. The work experience makes the candidate attractive to an employer while adding value to the job market,” says Najla.

A product of the UAE’s public schools, Najla takes pride in the opportunities offered by both public and private sector organisations in the country.

“I am somebody who studied in a public school and there are many more like me who have studied in the same system and reached great heights,” adds Najla.

For some, graduation lies far into the future but for others, the prospect of soon leaving the shelter of campus to make their way in the real world is a reality.

“It’s very easy to blame the educational system and your university for not finding you a job but that’s not going to help. The actual solution is to empower yourself and create jobs for yourself,” says Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nehayan, chairman and founder of the Bin Zayed Group.

“While governments should work towards creating a sustainable environment for the creation of jobs, young individuals should not forget their responsibility. They need to sustain by empowering themselves with the right skills and knowledge,” added Sheikh Khaled.


Start searching

There’s no reason to wait until the third or fourth year of your programme to begin thinking about internships. Start looking right away in your first year. It’s more difficult to get internships as a first-year student but it will give you an idea of what you’re looking for.

Keep your eyes open

Most companies provide internships during the summer and winter breaks as their employees leave for vacations. Opportunities for internships are available in greater numbers during these times.

Check out your options

Go to career fairs, even if they’re for graduates, and ask employers if they have internships for first- or second-year students. Contact companies and try to talk to people with authority.

Sell yourself

Make your skills and knowledge visible for the employers. At minimum wage, it’s cheap labour for them and great experience for you. In an older industry, you may bring new knowledge or emphasise your enthusiasm and work ethic.

Get help

If you’re having trouble finding an internship or don’t know where to start, ask your faculty or student services officer to help you out.


Students and fresh graduates need to be active, determined, flexible, professional and thoroughly evaluate their options before taking on a new job.

“We recommend students looking for a job to treat the job search with commitment, discipline and dedication. They need to ensure their resume is correct and professional and includes all achievements and most importantly, make sure it is online on a leading region-specific (job portal). They also need to network wisely and build on their exceptional skills and education to market themselves as the unique talents that they are,” says Amer Zureikat, vice-president, Sales at

A survey shows that skills that are currently most in demand by employers are: Good communication in Arabic and English (at 61 per cent of votes), team spirit cooperation and flexibility (at 52 per cent), overall personality and demeanour (at 46 per cent), good leadership skills (at 45 per cent) and trustworthiness (at 44 per cent).

Employers in the Middle East today do realise that they have the opportunity to select the best possible talent in the market and thus are keen on finding the entire A player package which combines education, soft skills, technical skills and professional character.

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