Transitioning from a Recruiter in the UK to the Middle East

  • 01 Jun 2022
  • client
  • 2022

Cameron Fairweather, our Dubai Office's most recent hire direct from the UK, gives us an insight into his experience of moving from recruitment in the UK to the Middle East...

Moving jobs can often be quite daunting but moving to a different continent for a new opportunity is an entirely different ball game. Or so you’d think…

I initially received a call about a role in the Middle East during the Summer of 2021, driving home from work in the pouring rain – which at the time was enough to make my ears prick up to the thought of sunshine for 365 days a year (realistic forecast should’ve been sandstorms, grey foggy skies with a sprinkling of sunshine).

Truth be told, I was ready for a new challenge and wanted to explore something different, having worked in the UK for my career to date. With nothing tying me down in my hometown of Ipswich, it made perfect sense to spread my wings and embark on a new challenge.

In the months that followed I had several meetings over Teams (thanks COVID) with Charlie and Ben here at Redpath Partners and immediately felt excited about the opportunity to join the team they have created over the past 7 years. We spent a number of hours speaking about their vision for this business, where I would fit in and what I could bring to the table. Any initial doubts that were in my mind were soon eradicated through the course of these meetings and with the help of Laura taking care of my visa, flights and initial accommodation, the move couldn’t have been more seamless after I signed on the dotted line.

Now after having spent 6 months recruiting in the GCC, it’s a good time to look back and reflect on some valuable lessons learnt over the course of my tenure here.

Construction and Development in the Middle East is on a far greater scale than anything I have experienced in my recruitment career. It’s important to set realistic expectations to potential candidates that unless they have previously worked in the region; the sheer scale of the projects may well far exceed anything they have previously worked on. It’s important not to be put off by this, but to embrace it. Clients aren’t expecting candidates to have the exact experience necessary, as it would be impossible, but understand that skills are transferrable and with commitment and willingness to learn, the move can be a success.

Recruitment here is far more complex than it is in the UK, unless you’re dealing with someone who is already based in the region. It’s a far cry from my experience of guiding someone through the process of switching from one development in East London to another in Central London. Once you have planted the seed of the Middle East, candidates need time to process if its going to work for the family, then proceeds a lengthy interview process (mainly due to the fact hiring managers are so busy with the boom), add in a three month notice period and a visa process to navigate.

One of the most interesting parts of recruiting in the GCC is dealing with a vast array of different nationalities. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to recruitment here, you need to be flexible in your style and very accommodating to everyone’s needs and cultural settings. We’re just off the back of Ramadan, where the region typically slows down drastically, and whilst some candidates are super keen for things to progress at a speed of light, it’s managing this process accordingly setting realistic expectations from the off. Experience: It’s no secret recruiters in the UK often have a poor reputation – potentially due to the market being saturated with inexperienced recruiters and clients feeling aggrieved through the whole process. The most pleasant surprise since joining the business is that recruiters are appreciated in the region. Due to the depth of knowledge required to pitch a new opportunity to a potential candidate, recruiters need to be exceptionally experienced and knowledgeable about the clients they’re recruiting for, as well as the market. Redpath Partners have been amazing at ensuring my market knowledge is sound and cultural setting established as well as being surrounded by incredibly experienced and successful recruiters who have moulded my recruitment approach to work in the GCC compared to the UK.

There’s lots of pro’s to living in the Middle East and they’re not all financial! The majority of cities we recruit for are easily accessible from anywhere in the world, which in turn opens up the candidate market far and wide. Direct and connecting flights into the region operate in abundance and there are numerous different locations available for short breaks locally which makes it an attractive proposition to many.

There are a few preconceptions about working in the Middle East, but having spent some time in the UAE and KSA, I can assure you that you will be welcomed with open arms, and you’ll be given a platform to grow both personally and professionally. The market is buoyant, the people are genuinely energising, and the opportunities are endless.

Joining Redpath Partners has been the best move of my career and I’m incredibly grateful to the team here for integrating me into the business effortlessly. If you’re thinking of a move, then make that call, explore your options, and embrace the openings offered – you won’t regret it.

Back to news