Category Archives: Off Topic

Six reasons why you need to undertake an expat assignment in the GCC

 

Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates and has witnessed modernisation on a grand scale since the 1990s. It has weathered the financial storms during the height of the financial crisis to re-establish itself as a prime destination for multinationals looking to establish a presence in the region and beyond. The United Arab Emirates is part of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and can be best defined as a regional intergovernmental political and economic union comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Having lived and worked in Dubai for nearly four years, since coming back to the UK I have benefited both culturally and career wise. My time there was interesting, enjoyable, challenging and enriching. Having also had the opportunity to travel to other countries within the GCC, I have found that there are several common themes that are prevalent throughout the six countries. These are:

The GGC leads the way in job creation: As the economies and populations of the GCC grow, so does demand on civil infrastructure, education, healthcare, housing so this results in job opportunities across multiple sectors.

Fewer decision makers: This is especially the case with regional companies/family conglomerates where it is often the CEO and/or Chairman who is the sole decision maker so decisions are reached faster rather than going through multiple layers of approval.

Faster business cycles: Due to faster decision making, projects can take shape much faster so a company’s hiring needs can be established quicker, creating job opportunities and transactions are completed faster.

Career development: Economies in the GCC are still developing so this means better prospects to move both laterally and vertically in your career. If you are somebody with between 5 and 10 years’ experience with a good educational background, you are going to be in demand so expect calls from recruiters.

Personal and professional development: Even if you decide to spend only a few years in the GCC or commit to a longer duration, you should expect to enhance your skills set as you gain exposure to prestigious projects and working alongside a multinational workforce means a more culturally diverse experience. Many expats who have worked in the GCC go on to work in other regions such as Asia Pacific and North America as their GCC experience is considered very valuable and transferable so if you choose to go to the GCC region, you will certainly be adding value to both your life and career.

Weather: Although it is stifling hot during summer months (mainly May to October), when it does cool down there are ample opportunities to pursue outdoor pursuits. Plus, it’s really nice waking up to a sunny bright blue clear skies.

7 Bizarre Behaviours Demonstrated by Candidates in the Interview Process

From crazy interview questions at Google to nerve-shredding interviews on the BBC’s Apprentice, the interview process is a tense and daunting experience. While it is rare that candidates will be subjected to this level of scrutiny, what is certain is that interviews can either bring out the very best or worst in candidates. Here are seven bizarre behaviours demonstrated by candidates before, during and after the interview process.

The candidate is asked about motivations

Interviewer: So, what got you interested in this position?

Candidate: My parents told me to apply!

The outcome of this interview was not favourable. Despite the candidate ticking all the boxes on paper, the interviewer stated that this single response resulted in the candidate being rejected. Ill thought out answers is a sure-fire to destroy interview success.

Turning up at the interview at the wrong time

In this example, a candidate turned up at his interview at BST (British Standard Time) when he was supposed to turn up at the meeting at CET (Central European Time). The Hiring Manager wasn’t too happy about this and waited for the candidate for around 30 minutes. It wasn’t until the recruiter contacted the candidate on his mobile that it emerged that the candidate thought the interview was BST when in the confirmation email it was stated that the meeting was CET. When arranging interviews between client and candidates overseas, communication is essential. It’s always good to double-check and if one is pedantic triple check.

Telling a Hiring Manager during a telephone interview, they are not interested in the job.

In this example, the candidate had a full, transparent discussion with the head-hunter, and his motivations and aspirations were known. When it came to the telephone interview, the candidate told the Hiring Manager that they were not interested in the job but wanted to have a general discussion. So as a head-hunter when asking a candidate about their interest in a particular position, it is a good idea to ask them a questions along the lines of “on a scale of 1 to 10, how interested are you in this job” or “what is your level of interest going to be in a few weeks”. That will allow a better understanding of their exact level of interest.

No contact after the interview

In this example, the candidate interviewed with the client with positive feedback with the client inviting the candidate for a second (face to face) stage interview. The recruiter contacted the candidate for a meeting to make the necessary arrangements but despite repeated attempts was unable to get hold of the candidate via mobile email, text. Result = radio silence and even more strange was that this particular candidate was still active on a social media site.

Candidate attending another call at the same time of telephone interview

While it is understandable that unforeseen circumstances might prevent communication between the client and candidate, all other calls must be put on hold. The client has blocked out time to interview so common courtesy should be extended.

Quiet place during a telephone interview.

One of the golden rules in telephone interviewing is that a candidate must be in a friendly, quiet private place when speaking to a recruiter or client. Background noise or a lack of privacy will hamper the ability to give reliable answers and jeopardise chances of further progression in the interview process.

Failing to disclose information to the recruiter or client

One of the pet hates of head – hunters and clients is a candidate failing to update them on issues that may be critical to their candidacy. Common problems include not being transparent about salary expectations, failing to inform of competing offers, interviews with other companies, interview availability. A little foresight will go a long way to avoiding problems further in the process.

 

5 Reasons to Accept an Expat Assignment

Let’s face it, the West in the doldrums. High unemployment, high inflation, social and political unrest and ailing infrastructure are all common features and will be for the foreseeable future according to many analysts. Western governments won’t admit it but there is an analysis paralysis of what to do to turn economic fortunes around. In particular, the economic uncertainty in the UK is now an increasing factor why many British residents are opting to pack their bags in return for a brighter future overseas. Here are five reasons why you might choose to accept that overseas job offer:

The economy :

A lack of investment, stagnant job creation and an ailing industrial sector are causing alarm bells to ring in key government and business circles. The cost of doing business in the UK has gone up considerably with fuel costing companies a fortune and as a result many energy intensive industries are suffering substantially. Tata Steel for example has not made a profit in Europe for several years and SABIC Europe, backed by its Saudi parent is scaling back operations in the UK just to stay competitive.  Also, the UK has one of the highest levels of personal household debt in the world. If things don’t improve, many companies will disappear altogether.

Socio – political issues:

The immigration debate in the UK is fuelling multiple issues on both sides of the fence including an increased hostility towards immigrants and certain religious  groups , rise of far right groups, and a growing sentiment in public that immigration needs to be controlled. Some analysts have even linked immigration with the financial pressures facing the NHS and public services. Whilst that is anecdotal, a rising population has added to operational pressures on the NHS with the institution facing a staffing crisis and serious reputational damage due to a number of high profile failings across hospitals in the UK which continue to undermine confidence in the NHS. Education too is facing significant challenges with the cost of going to college/university rising and more and more school leavers thinking twice about whether to be saddled with a lifetime of debt or take up an apprenticeship or start their own business. The UK will fail to produce quality talent that companies in the UK so badly need if the rising cost of higher education is not addressed.

Creaking infrastructure:

A common question the UK tax payer is asking is “where is our money being spent?” Poor quality roads, ageing rail infrastructure and a lack of housing are putting pressure on the Government to reduce the deficit but at the same time making vital investment that is required to sustain thriving, modern cities. A report commissioned by housing charity Shelter stated that young people now need to save money for 30 years in order to put down a deposit for a house. This all does not bode well for future generations, and will lead to a disenfranchised electorate.

Better career opportunities:

Go east if you want better career opportunities and an improved quality of life. Ask many expats and that’s probably what they will tell you. The east is creating more jobs and at a faster rate, and governments are spending freely on infrastructure which has created stupendous levels of economic growth.  For example, it is believed that the GCC’s current rail infrastructure project will spawn a whole new railway services industry in the Middle East. Similarly, rising populations in the GCC region have spawned a growing healthcare industry in the region. If you choose to work in a tax free country like the UAE, Saudi Arabia or Qatar you have the opportunity to save money either through salary or bonuses (which still exists in the current climate), something that is otherwise a struggle in the UK.

The weather:

This year March was one of the coldest months in living memory and weather experts have recently declared that British summers are likely to be wet for the next decade.  British weather is and will be unpleasant for many years to come. This is not good news for people who like a bit of sunshine in their lives, and want to stay healthy.

Cultural exposure:

After spending several wonderful years in Dubai, the cultural experience was vast. What I learnt during my time living and working there is that now I have a better appreciation for and understanding of different cultures. Dubai is a melting pot of cultures where east and west co – exist peacefully. In a business, context, I have now become a more globally minded individual – having a better understanding of how business is conducted in a global hub like Dubai. Culture has certainly enriched my life.

The decision to accept an overseas job offer can be a daunting one for most. Some people like a sense of adventure and don’t think twice about making a move whilst others remain conservative about such a prospect. Whatever you decide to do though, make sure it makes financial sense for you and above all take your time to figure out whether or not you are comfortable living and being part of another country. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Holiday etiquette… before you leave the office

Reclama la Bounty: Mare, soare, cocotier

It’s surprising and disappointing that people do not know how to enjoy and relax on their holidays. They take their work mobiles with them, deliberately do not activate their out of office assistant yet tell their secretaries to tell anybody who asks for them that they are on holiday. Does that count as a holiday? It is acceptable that for some professions being available, 24-7 is unavoidable, but there should be limits. Holidays are for people to de-stress, and forget about the work. Your ‘me’ time is your own, with family, friends. Holidays are part of your employment contract, and they are for your benefit. There is no benefit to you if you are busy checking your work emails on the hotel sun lounger. But there are still ways you can both enjoy your holiday and keep up with work if you have to.

Use the Out of Office Assistant Properly – Do not just use the Out of Office to say that you are not going to be in the office. If you are going to a business meeting, say that you are going to a meeting, and tell others your schedule if need be so that they can call you at the appropriate time.

Specify Emergency Contact Details – If your company in a business emergency needs you and you are not carrying your work mobile with you, have a system in place that tells the company how to reach you should the worse happen.

Complete Pending Work – Try to complete any outstanding tasks before you go on your holiday. Do not leave any unfinished business. Even if you do, try to delegate to keep the momentum going so that projects stay on track. This way, your mind will be clear, and you will be safe in the knowledge that you have things under control.