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Jobseekers took a sigh of relief, as they saw new opportunities trickling in on job boards and their inbox, following the easing of lockdown restrictions. But the balance between the number of opportunities available and the number of jobseekers in the country is making it a largely employers’ market. Yet it is safe to say hiring in the region is seeing a rebound. In comparison to other major markets where rehiring slowed and layoffs continued in August, the UAE has been on an upward curve since June. Jobs are back at 56 per cent of what they were at the same time last year, as recorded by i12WRK, a UAE-based online recruitment platform.

Industries such as healthcare, pharma, FMCG and essential goods, IT support and cybersecurity, and e-commerce witnessed boom in demand, continued hiring and robust opportunities for full-time, part-time, seasonal and overnight employees. Having adjusted to changing needs, the local talent market saw increased opportunities with small to mid-sized companies. Roles that were most in demand on the i12WRK platform included salesperson, customer service, cashier, delivery drivers, registered nurse, technicians, IT support, network engineers and project managers. These jobs from various functional areas required experience of not more than four years and fell within the salary bracket of under Dh8,000.

Employable skills in a competitive market

With higher traction in categories that required experience of less than five years, these job vacancies attracted an increased number of applicants than it would normally do, including applications from overqualified candidates. Eighty per cent of i12WRK’s registered users had applied to at least one position with total number of applicants per job going up to 1,000, a 56 per cent increase from the numbers in March 2020. When employers have a choice to pick from a pool of incredibly qualified candidates, they have been able to negotiate hard on salaries.

Finding a steady ground

Though the findings underline that it’s an employers’ market right now, the seekers are very conscious when accepting job offers and salary is not the only criterion. A survey conducted by i12WRK was able to capture some of the factors determining the decisions of the seekers. Jobseekers feel finding a job is harder now and are more concerned about the company’s culture and values while accepting offers. They take into consideration how the company managed their employees during the pandemic, whether they were layoffs or salary cuts. Job security has become an important criterion in decision making.

The demand side of hiring

Companies hiring today have an increased preference for candidates who are available in the UAE and can join immediately. Things are changing fast for everyone. Companies are faced with the same uncertainty as individuals and their hiring is guided by their urgency. They are hiring only when necessary and want to take quick calls before things change again. i12WRK noticed job offers being rolled out in a day’s time and companies are expecting new employees to start as early as the next day.

Employers across industries are also becoming more flexible with their requirements. The new normal has led employers to move the focus from job-specific tasks to additional digital skills in candidates to work remotely, and to adapt to new operating technologies. Employers are making decisions based on the value add a candidate brings and soft skills such as adaptability and flexibility, and it becomes essential for jobseekers to showcase how they have managed and come out of challenges.

In the current travel environment the number of new jobseekers entering the country is low. This gives candidates within the country an advantage as recruiters dive into the available pool of resources to pick their star candidates. Being based in a Covid-19-controlled environment is also a major plus for companies hiring. From a cost-to-company perspective, hiring from locally available seekers ticks all checkboxes for employers. Technology-enabled tools in hiring such as video cover letters and virtual interviews are supporting the companies in quick decision making, thus reducing the lead times for candidates to join immediately.

Things jobseekers should focus on

The professional world is changing rapidly with technological advances and jobs of today might not be the jobs of tomorrow. It is important to be aware of the skills that are in demand now and in the future. Use this time to your advantage. A survey of job providers, conducted by i12WRK, shows increased hiring projections in the coming months.

Jobseekers should be prepared, keep their search on, continue to network and upskill and at the same time not get bogged down by setbacks in the short run. There are quick tips and advice for jobseekers to better their chances at www.i12wrk.com.

To view jobs, you can download the i12WRK app from the Play store and App store.