How to write a winning CV in 2024 (UAE)

Last Updated on July 9, 2024 by Vadim

Dubai Job market is one of the most competitive Job markets in the world, but this is not surprising. Dubai offers the perfect work life balance, amazing weather, it is very international, has a friendly business environment and most of all there are no income taxes.

A lot of candidates discover Dubai through amazing short videos on Instagram, TikTok or Youtube. The first thing they do is to look for a Job in order to relocate and start living this amazing lifestyle.

However, after applying for a few positions, they soon discover that nobody gets back to them – recruiters & employers are overwhelmed and thus are unable to give individual feedback. This is understandable, as Recruiters receive approximately 100 CVs a day through Email, Linkedin Messages and other methods.

There are some more popular positions than others – for example a Vacancy for an Accountant, Human Resource Manager or a Marketing Professional receives up to 500 applicants on Jobboards such as JobXDubai.com. The reason for that is People from India, Pakistan , Europe and the US start applying and the recruiters become overwhelmed very quickly.

However, some positions with higher barriers of entry which require a specialised degree or specific Industry knowledge tend to receive less applicants and are less competitive. Some of the positions are :

  • Dentists / Specialist Doctors (with a DHa license),
  • Nurses (with a DHA license),
  • Investment Bankers ,
  • Pharma positions,
  • Artificial Intelligence Engineers
  • C-level positions

So how do you stand out in such a competitive environment?

The only document that connects you with the employer / recruiter in dubai and yourself is your CV. It is essentially your marketing material and it should be able to tell the whole picture about your persona, where you live, what have you done in the past and why you would add value to the company.

Your CV needs to capture the attention of the recruiter in 30 seconds a less. As we mentioned before, the recruiters are overwhelmed with CVs and are very time constrained due to the overwhelming demand. If the CV doesn’t capture the recruiters attention instantly, he or she will just move on to the next.

Start with a clear Format

The format of the CV should be clearly formatted, do not use any coloured themes. Here is an example of a CV format that has been very successful with employers and recruiters:

As you can see from the example, the CV has a very clear structure, headings for each sections, and is two pages long.

What should a winning CV include (in the order listed) :

  1. Personal Information
  2. Profile Picture
  3. Profile Section
  4. Latest Work Experience (not more than 3 work experiences)
  5. Highest Education
  6. Technical Proficiencies
  7. Specialised Software skills
  8. Strengths / Skills
  9. Languages
  10. Industry Qualifications (if applicable)

What should a winning CV not include :

  • Do not mention any references (such as “References available upon request)
  • Do not mention any hobbies (this is irrelevant)
  • Do not attach any Diplomas / Pictures of Certificates
  • Do not attach a Copy of your Passport or any other ID
  • Do not mention if you are single or married

1. Let’s start with the Personal Information Section:

The personal information section is very specific to Dubai which should be mentioned on top of the CV:

  1. First and Surname
  2. Date of Birth
  3. City where you currently reside
  4. Mobile number / Whatsapp number
  5. Email address
  6. LinkedIn Profile Link (clickable)
  7. Driving license
  8. Visa Status

First and Surname

This is standard to have the First and Surname on any CV whether it is for an application in Dubai & UAE or anywhere else. This is self explanatory and doesn’t require any further details.

Date of Birth

You should include your date of birth on the CV – it is important as some positions require a younger candidate and some positions require someone who is a little older and might have more experience.

City you currently reside

Recruiters tend to prefer candidates who are already living in the UAE, so they look at your location. This is understandable, as the employer wants to hire as fast as possible and candidates who already reside in the UAE could start immediately.


Candidates, who are outside of the UAE (for example in EU or North America), would need to do a lot of steps before they actually begin to work. They would need to relocate first (which can already take up to 3 months), find a flat, book a ticket and make the necessary arrangements.

Recruiters know that and handing out an offer to someone who is outside of the UAE might be risky. In theory the candidate could accept the offer, but after few weeks / months of considerations, decides not to relocate after all. The recruiter will have to restart the whole search from scratch to fill the vacancy.

A lot of candidates actually travel to Dubai for a month or two and start their job search. This significantly increases their chances, as they are able to write “Dubai” as their current residence.

Mobile number / Whatsapp number

Always include your current whatsapp number or mobile number. Recruiters in Dubai mostly communicate through whatsapp. The number doesnt necessary have to be a dubai whatsapp number. Due to high roaming costs and blocked whatsapp voice calls, Dubai recruiters and employers often use the app “botim” for voice calls. So make sure you download the app for your phone and register.

Email address

Do not forget to mention your email address. It should be professional (for example your first name / surname ). We would recommend to setup a fresh gmail email, so if a recruiter gets in touch with you, the email wont get lost in your inbox.

LinkedIn Profile Link (clickable)

Include in your CV a clickable LinkedIn link to your profile. LinkedIn is a very popular with Dubai / UAE recruiters, so make sure you fill it out correctly and spend some time fine tuning it.

Also a side note – recruiters also have premium tools and can discover your LinkedIn profile if it is setup correctly. If you want to read our guide on how to setup a winning Linkedin profile , please click here.

Driving license

Always mention whether you have a driving license or not. A lot of positions require you to drive within Dubai / UAE – to see clients / suppliers / patients etc. The public transport system in Dubai is still being developed and is very limited, thus having a driving license can be a significant factor, whether you get hired in Dubai or not.


2. Profile Picture

There are always debates amongst experts, whether a CV should include a profile picture or not. In our view, a winning CV in Dubai should always contain a profile picture.

Why you may ask? It’s simple – a recruiter / employer in dubai always wants to know how the person he is hiring or inviting to an interview looks like. A CV with a profile picture creates an emotional connection to the recruiter – the person reading the CV always imagines whether that candidate will fit into the culture of the company.

That is why you need to make sure you can present yourself in the best possible light. We recommend that the picture should be :

  • Professional headshot
  • You should be smiling on the picture (not a pass picture)
  • You should have a professional appearance (a suit or similar)
  • Your hair should not obstruct your face
  • The picture should be high quality with a neutral background (white)

Here is an example of a profile picture:


3. Continue with Profile Section

Profile section is by far the most important section in the CV. This is where you grab the attention of the recruiter. It is essentially a summary of your persona, and should give the recruiter / employer a picture about yourself and your professional work experience and your expertise.

Here is an example of the profile section :

The first paragraph of the profile section

The first sentence should let the recruiter know who you are and what have you been doing in your professional career. Example of the first sentence should be something like that

“As an adept HR Manager with over 7 years of diverse experience in logistics, manufacturing, food processing, and IT across Australia and India, I have successfully managed comprehensive HR functions, including end-to-end recruitment, employee relations, payroll, and training.”

This sentence reveals a lot about the candidate – the recruiters knows instantly that the candidate in question has significant experience in the HR field, worked in various countries (Australia / India).

The candidate specialises end-to-end recruitment, employee relations, is familiar with payroll and can also setup training courses / train employees.

The second paragraph

In the second paragraph, you could expand a little on your experience or add more information, like in this example :

“My role has consistently focused on fostering productive workplace environments and enhancing employee engagement, thereby optimizing operational efficiency.”

The third paragraph

In the third paragraph we have illustrated that the candidate is currently residing in Dubai and has specific knowledge about the UAE labour laws. If you are applying for a HR position in Dubai, you require specific knowledge about the Labour Laws and this will give you a significant advantage over other candidates.

“Currently residing in Dubai, I possess a comprehensive understanding of local labor laws, HR policies, and cultural nuances, which enhances my capability to oversee diverse teams and manage intricate HR projects effectively.”

If you haven’t worked in Dubai before, but still want to mention knowledge about a specific topic (like Labour Laws), you can easily find all the necessary knowledge by googling the information. For example for HR , you can go to the official website of the United Arab Emirates – Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation and read through the Labour laws.

The fourth paragraph

In the fourth paragraph, you can expand you can dive into your latest work experience and give the recruiter a better understanding of what you did at your recent role. Here is an example :

“My recent role at Google, preceded by versatile HR management positions at Microsoft involving the manufacturing, logistics, and food processing sectors, exemplifies my adaptability and skill in navigating sector-specific challenges.”

The fifth & sixth paragraph

In the last two paragraphs, you can state what role you are applying for – this will give the recruiter a better understanding. Here is an example:

“I am committed to employing a strategic blend of proactive relationship management and targeted HR practices to attract and maintain top talent.

I am keen to apply this expertise to a challenging new role in Dubai, where I aim to drive HR excellence and contribute strategically to organizational success.”

Conclusion

The profile section is the most important part of the CV. The recruiter should be able to read it in less than 30 seconds and understand:

  • Who you are
  • In which sector have you been working and how long
  • Any particular skills / achievements / education that makes you stand out
  • Where do you currently reside (if dubai – mention that)
  • If you are planning to relocate, mention a specific date when you are relocating
  • What position you are applying

4. Work experience

Next on the list is starting with your work experience – start with the latest work experience / current work experience. The recruiter / employer doesnt want to scroll to the second page and discover where you currently work. So make sure it is on the first page.

Do not mention more than three work experiences and mention only relevant work experience to the position you are applying for. If you are applying for an Accountant position and 5 years ago you were working as a Storekeeper, don’t mention the storekeeper position, as it is entirely irrelevant.

When you start writing about your work experience, it is important to include various information about the Employer + your position :

  1. Companies name
  2. The period you worked there (if you are still working there, write from year to “current”
  3. State the position clearly – “HR Manager” or “Accountant” or “Registered Nurse”
  4. Mention the City / Country where you were located

Your current / past Employer

If the company is outside of Dubai / UAE , most recruiters and employers wont know your company. If it is a worldwide known brand like “Apple” or “Microsoft” or “Goldman Sachs”, then you should write in the opening sentence a few words about your current / past employer.

An example how you could phrase it:

“At Google, a global leader operating in 70+ countries with USD 150 billion in revenue, I oversee HR operations for 83 team members, including two teams based in the UAE.”

This gives the recruiter a better understanding about your position and where you have worked. This will also set you up for a higher salary. Lets say you have worked for a leading manufacturer in India (with 10,000 employees and $1bn in revenue) and lead a large team of 200 people.

This will carry a lot of weight with the recruiter, as it demonstrates that you work for a large & successful company, you have managerial skills.

If you have worked for a smaller company or even a startup, you can spin it into your favour by saying something like “Have worked for a fast growing startup”.

It is all about perspective, so make sure you mention your company in a positive light.

Expand on your latest work experience

The rule of thumb – expand the most on your latest experience, then write a little less (depending on your space in the CV), and maybe mention 1 or 2 sentences for the 3rd work experience.

Recruiters mainly care about the latest work experience but will gladly look at the two other experiences and see if you have been growing in your career.

Here is an example of how you could write it:

We have separated the experience into various sub-topics and key responsibilities.

It should be written in short bullet points and there should be space between each space. As we mentioned before, recruiters receive an overwhelming amount of CVs a day and this becomes a very tedious job to try to identify and understand the information you are trying to convey.

This is how you could write your own work experience .

  • Key Responsibility: A short sentence of what you did”

Highlight the “key responsibility” part, so it stands out. Make sure that the sentence is short, but contains all the information. It should have no more than 5 Key Responsibilities / Key Achievements.


5. Highest Education

If you have more than 5 years of work experience, in most cases you should only mention your highest degree of education. If you have done a Masters and a Bachelor, or a Phd – you should mention both degrees.

However, if you have only a Bachelors degree, it is unnecessary to mention your high school diploma, as it is irrelevant.

Write a sentence or two about the University itself, for example “The leading University in India” or “Top Business School in London”.

In the education section, recruiters tend to look for technical skills you may have acquired during your studies. If you studied computer science, then you will mostly write about the coding languages and other technologies you have learned.

If you have studied Business Administration and you are applying for a Marketing position, try to expand on the modules that can be related to marketing . For example :

  • Branding / PR modules
  • Market Analysis
  • Customer Segmentation

Freshers / low work experience

If you are just fresh out University or School, and you don’t have enough work experience, you should mention both University and School and expand on University. Mention your grades, what modules you have studied and what practical skills you were able to gain.

Similar to work experience, recruiters do not know University names if they are outside of the UAE, unless its a world wide recognised establishment like Harvard, Oxford , Cambridge and co.


6. Technical Proficiencies

The technical proficiencies will vary for every profession / candidate. For Health and Safety Officers, there will be ISO certificates, whereas HR professionals would mention UAE Labour Laws , Employment contracts and Visas.

In this section, use bullet points – you don’t have to write full sentences. Make it as simple as possible. In this particular example, we have placed the section on the first page, as this information will increase the chances of being hired, if you a candidate is applying for a highly competitive HR position.

If you dont have any particular technical proficiencies, you don’t have to mention them. Always ask yourself – will this section add me more value if I place it on my CV?


7. Strengths / Skills

This section is highly undervalued by candidates, but in our opinion it is a very important part of the Resume which shouldn’t be neglected. We will explain why.

ATS – Applicant tracking system

A lot of companies in Dubai (mostly mid size to larger companies like Emirates, Jumeirah and Nakheel) use ATS systems. Applicant tracking systems are a software application, which helps companies to parse incoming CVs , rank them by keywords and help recruiters to find the correct candidates through search.

ATS systems are highly outdated and do not use any Artificial Intelligence, so the system only recognises certain formats.

For the strengths / skills keywords, the easiest way to make the Resume ATS friendly is to take the Job description and use the keywords mentioned in the description in your CV.

You can also use ChatGPT and enter the job description of the position you are applying and copy paste your CV into the chat. Use this prompt to get all the high quality keywords for your strengths section :

ChatGPT prompt
“please provide me the ats friendly keywords for this position. the keywords should be displayed as bullet points and as single keywords”

How to make sure your Resume is ATS friendly

  • Simple Format: Keep your CV layout simple. Use a standard font like Arial or Times New Roman, and avoid headers and footers because ATS might not read them.
  • No Images or Graphics: Avoid adding images or fancy graphics since ATS systems can’t read them. Stick to text.
  • Standard Headings: Use common headings like “Work Experience,” “Education,” and “Skills.” This makes it easy for the ATS to find and understand your information.
  • Use Bullet Points: For job descriptions and achievements, use bullet points. This makes your CV easier to scan and more readable.
  • Spell Out Abbreviations: Write out any abbreviations at least once. For example, “Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.).”
  • Avoid Tables: Some ATS systems have trouble reading tables. It’s safer to list information in a standard text format.
  • Save in the Right Format: Save your CV as a PDF. These formats are most likely to be ATS-friendly.
  • Check the File Name: Use a simple file name that includes your name and the word “resume.” For example, “Alex_Smith_Resume.pdf.”

8. Languages

Most of the candidates, who are applying in Dubai speak more than two languages. If you do speak more than language, then highlight this, as this can be a winning factor.

Do not use any graphs or “skill bars” to display your level of knowledge. Always use words, like “Professional” or “limited” or “native”.

Words to describe your level of competence for languages:

  1. Native
  2. Full
  3. Professional
  4. Limited
  5. Elementary

10. Industry Qualifications (if applicable)

Depending on your qualifications and industry, you might want to add this section to your CV as well.

Also, please note that you can change the name of the Category, if it is more applicable to your profession. If you are a academic researcher for example, the category might be called “Published Research Papers”


Certifications and Licenses: Your Competitive Edge

In Dubai’s job market, certifications from internationally recognised bodies and local licenses can significantly boost your job prospects. Highlight these prominently on your CV.

Also, some of the professions in Dubai require for you to apply for a government licences before you can actually start working.

If you are a healthcare professional (dentist, doctor , nurse etc), you would need to obtain a DHA license first before actually applying for a position. Recruiters will ignore your application, if you dont mention your obtained license number in the Personal Information section.

In our knowledge hub, we have a comprehensive guide on how to apply for various licenses, which you can check out.

Licensing Requirements Across Key Sectors

PROFESSIONLICENSE APPLICATION REQUIREMENTSLICENSE NAME & DETAILS
Healthcare ProfessionalsRelevant degree, professional experience, passing the licensing examination, proof of language proficiencyDHA/DOH/MOHAP License, specific to medical practice field, renewable every 1-3 years
Educators and TeachersTeaching qualification, background check, professional experience, educational philosophy statementTeaching License, issued by KHDA or other emirate-specific authority, subject to renewal and professional development requirements
EngineersAccredited engineering degree, professional experience, membership in the Society of Engineers-UAE, passing professional exams (if applicable)Engineering Practice License, issued by local municipality and Society of Engineers-UAE, with different categories for various engineering fields
Lawyers and Legal ConsultantsLaw degree, passing the bar examination (or equivalent), professional experience, proof of legal right to work in the UAELegal Practicing License, issued by the Judicial Department or Ruler’s Court in respective emirate, must be renewed annually
Accountants and Financial AdvisorsRelevant finance or accounting degree, professional certifications (e.g., CPA, CFA), professional experience, proof of ethical standingProfessional Accounting or Financial Advisory License, issued by Ministry of Economy or relevant financial authority, requires continuous education
Real Estate Agents and BrokersCompletion of required training courses, passing the RERA examination, proof of good conduct, knowledge of real estate laws and regulationsReal Estate Broker License, issued by RERA in Dubai or equivalent authority in other emirates, renewable annually
ArchitectsAccredited architecture degree, professional experience, membership in a professional body, submission of a portfolioArchitecture License, issued by local municipality and professional body, with specific focus areas like urban planning or landscape architecture

We hope this guide has been helpful and insightful. If you require our help, we will be more than happy to draft you a winning dubai compliant CV.

Please have a look here https://cv-review.com/professional-cv

Further Reading

In our latest blog article, we cover several key topics related to finding a job in the UAE. For those looking to enhance their job search strategies and improve their chances of landing a job, here are some essential reads:

  1. How to write a winning CV in 2024 (UAE)
  2. Strategies to Apply for a Job in Dubai & UAE (2024)
  3. Recruitment Agencies in UAE: A Comprehensive Guide [2024]