Dubai: Their salary expectations may be lower compared to their experienced peers, but fresh graduates in the country are finding it difficult to land a job, according to a new survey.

Market research company YouGov and recruitment site have polled more than 4,000 young candidates in the Middle East  and North Africa (Mena) to find out how they feel about their job hunting experience.

Almost a third (26 per cent) of them admitted that getting hired these days is indeed “very difficult”. Most young candidates (52 per cent) who don’t have any experience in the workplace feel that employers prefer job applicants with experience.

Joblessness among the young population in the Mena region is considerably high, with the youth unemployment rate reaching 23 per cent, almost twice the global average of 13 per cent. said the number of young people without jobs is only adding to the discontent among fresh graduates.

According to Suhail Masri, vice president for employer solutions at, companies looking to hire for senior positions mostly look for candidates with relevant industry experience, leadership qualities, communication and negotiation skills and ability to work under pressure, among others.

“These skills are also among the most valued for mid-to junior-level positions, however, to a lesser degree,” Masri told Gulf News.

Masri said fresh graduates, however, are still being hired for a wide variety of roles, including positions like optometrist, accountant, dentist, video editor, fitness trainer and sales engineer, among others.

Despite the challenges they think they’re facing, fresh graduates are not giving up. Almost a third of the youth (27 per cent) said they will start looking for employment opportunities outside the industry they are qualified for, while 16 per cent said they will explore vacancies no matter the industry.

“The results suggest that while fresh graduates across the region expect it to be challenging to find a job, many are resilient and unwilling to compromise on their dreams and ambitions. Indeed, the largest proportion of fresh graduates surveyed claimed they would keep looking until they found a job in their industry or choice and a job they feel passionate about,” said Masri.

Many fresh graduates are unaware of the current salary trends but they’re looking to receive between $750 (Dh2,700) and $2,000 (Dh7,345) per month. In other countries like Egypt, salary expectations are even lower, with 53 per cent of young candidates there looking to receive $500 or less. In Saudi Arabia, salary expectations of 46 per cent of the new graduates range between $1,000 and $3,000 per month.

Companies who hire young applicants, however, said that the lower salary expectations (49 per cent), compliance and willingness to follow instructions (36 per cent) are their key motivators for hiring inexperienced candidates.


Attributes employers seek when hiring:

Senior role- Collaboration/teamwork (88 per cent), communication skills (85 per cent), overall personality and demeanor (85 per cent), leadership qualities (84 per cent), ability to work under pressure (84 per cent) and planning/organizational skills (84 per cent), relevant industry experience (78 per cent), negotiation skills (78 per cent) and overall personality and demeanor (85 per cent)

Mid-to junior-level: Planning and organization skills (70 per cent), relevant industry experience (67 per cent), negotiation skills (68 per cent), overall personality and demeanor (75 per cent)