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Senior Business Manager

A day in the life of a Dubai Recruiter

Tom Southgate shares what a typical day recruiting in Dubai looks like.


Having worked in Dubai for the last two years, Tom Southgate, Regional Business Manager for global recruitment consultancy, Randstad, shares what a typical day recruiting in this glamourous Middle Eastern location looks like – and how respecting the climate and culture are key to business success.

What sectors do you cover?

As a team of around 30 people, Randstad Middle East covers a wide variety of sectors. In my role, I am responsible for a number of positions within the manufacturing & logistics, construction and FMCG sectors.

However, with the challenging economic environment and increasing demand from businesses in the region, our remit has grown across the team. Although traditional in many aspects, Dubai has undoubtedly become more Westernised. All the big brands are here, or are trying to get here, with the aim of adopting a “bigger and better” approach. As a result, the retail sector is thriving and there is significant opportunity in areas such as hospitality and F&B, too, where companies want to work with an established recruiter who understands the market.

What time does your day start and finish?

As with everything in Dubai, the working day is dictated by the weather. I tend to get into the office at about 7:30-8:00AM, for several reasons. First of all, it’s a lot cooler at this time and so much more practical – especially if you are smartly dressed for client meetings. As you would expect, it’s also less busy on the roads and so makes the journey to work easier. Lastly, and most importantly, starting at this time means you can take the opportunity to speak with key decision makers. This “golden hour”, before the official work day begins, is crucial.

I tend to leave around 6pm, depending on my day! The Dubai culture is definitely work hard, play hard and I would say you get a good work-life balance overall. It took me a little while to adjust to differences such as working on Sundays (and not working Fridays), but it’s an amazing and varied environment – very different to my last place of work – Croydon!

What times of the year are you most or least busy?

As with most recruitment businesses, activity is definitely seasonal – but there are also some other factors which dictate client demand levels.

Overall, December to mid January is a quieter time of year as many businesses shut down over the holiday period. However, from February to May, when the cooler months have arrived and everyone has returned from their break, enquiries really increase. Again, climate can dictate how busy we are, and May to September (the hottest months in Dubai), mean that demand takes a dip. There is also the religious aspect to take into account during this time, with Ramadan falling during the summer months. The “boom time”, when the majority of business deals are done, is from September to November.

How is a place like Dubai different to other world locations, like London?

First of all, I would say it’s a much more multicultural and glamourous standard of living. The client profile is also much higher – we have global, multinational businesses on our doorstep, fighting to locate in Dubai. I would say there is a very fresh energy here. In Dubai, everything is new, modern and fast. It’s super clean and super quick and this is something you see when dealing with clients and candidates alike.

Do the team socialise after hours?

Yes, definitely – it’s part of the culture here. The lifestyle that is available for you and your colleagues means you can experience anything and everything. The team here at MENA is multicultural and diverse with over ten different nationalities, a fair split of male and female and quite a diverse age range, too, so it’s a great atmosphere.

What is the dress code and do you have a dress down day?

I think there is a big misconception here. It is formal, yes – but it’s not ties or traditional dress everyday – smart casual is more accurate. As ever, it’s dependent on the type of client or candidate you are seeing that day. There are so many stigmas and stereotypes associated with Dubai, but it’s not as conservative as many perceive.

Before moving here with Randstad, I lived in both the UK and Australia. Although they both have their merits, Dubai is a bustling, cosmopolitan, great place to work and I immensely enjoy it.

To find out more about Randstad Middle East, please visit their website: https://www.randstadmena.com/

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