Looking for a job? Here are the ones in high demand in the Middle East

Competition among jobseekers has become very tough, says Michael Page

Image used for illustrative purpose.

Image used for illustrative purpose.

Getty Images

Despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, companies across the Middle East region continue to hire new employees, but the competition among jobseekers in general has become very tough.

With redundancies, restructuring and consolidation becoming all too common, there is a high volume of jobseekers in sectors like banking and financial services, finance and accounting, according to the latest report from Michael Page.

There are also fewer jobs in property and construction, as many companies have restructured and experienced cash flow issues, resulting in an increase in job cuts. “The outcome is a job-driven market with less jobs available,” the report said.

Nevertheless, there is a scarcity of talent in certain sectors, such as the oil and gas, while in the healthcare and life sciences, manufacturing and engineering, professionals are quite reluctant to explore new employment opportunities, the report noted.

Companies across the world have had to cut jobs to sustain their business in an unprecedented environment. Within the UAE alone, it was estimated that close to one million jobs would be lost as a result.  


On a positive note, with social distancing and stay-at-home measures in place across the world, the demand for digital talent has increased.

Among those sought after are software or web developers, digital marketing professionals, product managers, digital project managers and test engineers.

As companies have scaled up digitalisation, Michael Page said candidates with software, web and mobile development background are among those in demand.

Banking and financial services

In the banking and financial services, employers are still looking for investment associates, risk directors, internal audit directors, fund finance managers and compliance managers, among others.

However, due to consolidation, the market is quite tight. “There is an abundance of talent available for clients to choose from, and fewer jobs,” the report said.

Applicants are advised to ensure their CV highlights and defines their skillsets, so that they can position themselves as specialists in their domain, thus attract the attention of potential employers.

Engineering and manufacturing

Positions in demand within the industry are plant managers, general managers; health, safety and environment managers; project managers and research and development managers.

Companies are looking to hire applicants who can implement best manufacturing processes that ensure “continual improvement in quality, cost, lead time, flexibility and customer service”.

Those with strong leadership and change management skills have higher chances of getting hired.

Finance and accounting

There is a high volume of jobseekers in the finance and accounting industry and so identifying quality candidates is a challenge for employers.

Companies in this field are looking for credit managers/ controllers, direct tax accountants/ managers, internal auditors, risk managers, financial controllers and finance business partners.

Applicants with a strong background or experience in debt management, restructuring, as well as risk and internal controls, may get noticed.

“Cash flow is crucial in a turbulent market and there is an appetite for candidates with strong regional banking relationships,” said Michael Page.

Healthcare and life sciences

Due to the pandemic, it has become difficult for the commercial side of the healthcare and life sciences industry to interact with customers, the report noted.

As a result, companies seek to employ talent who have strong networks with end users and distributors across the region and who are able to significantly influence the sales pipeline.

However, there has been a slowdown in hiring activity within the industry, while professionals in stable jobs are also not so keen on shifting companies.

“This means that companies need to offer strong package increases, skill set development and career growth opportunities to attract the best talent,” said Michael Page.

Positions in demand are regional sales managers, regulatory affairs professionals, business development managers, clinical application and product specialists, as well as e-commerce brand managers.

Oil and gas

Despite a challenging year, companies within the industry are still hiring. However, there seems to be talent shortage now.

“The [industry] is experiencing a talent pipeline deficit resulting in recruitment challenges all over the world, including the Middle East,” said Michael Page.

Positions in demand include project managers, commissioning/ decommissioning managers, HSE managers, production managers and estimating/ cost managers.

Applicants that will have higher chances of landing an employment offer are those with onshore/ offshore experience, as well as leadership skills and qualifications in green field management.

Property and construction

Despite company restructuring and cash-flow problems, companies within the sector are looking to hire professionals in facilities management, commercial management, contracts claims, real estate asset management and leasing.

“Talent seeking new opportunities should focus on honing some transferable skills that may be needed across other industries. CV must be rewritten to highlight such skills,” Michael Page advised.

“Present yourself as a skilled professional rather than an industry specialist so hiring managers can see clearly how you could add value to their business.”

Consultancy, strategy and change

Professionals in corporate strategy and planning, business project and transformation and strategic partnership have a good chance of getting a job in this sector.

Employers are looking for candidates with top-tier academic background, technical abilities and Middle East experience. “Candidates coming from more sophisticated markets who possess these qualities come at a premium and will always have a variety of options to choose from, even in challenging markets,” said the report.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)


Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. The content does not provide tax, legal or investment advice or opinion regarding the suitability, value or profitability of any particular security, portfolio or investment strategy. Read our full disclaimer policy here.

© ZAWYA 2021

More From GCC