Ask Bee: How to Find a Job in Jeddah
Forget Abigail Van Buren. We’ve got our own little expert on matters related to life in Saudi Arabia. She’s something of a know-it-all, and has opinion and information on everything from purchasing fancy grocery items to successfully nailing the ideal job. We roped her in to share some nuggets of wisdom with us. Do you have any questions for her? Have you wondered where to go and splurge in Jeddah, how to spoil yourself silly, or, let’s say, who is the best dentist in town? Randomness doesn’t bother her, in fact, it turns her on. Whatever it is, wonder out loud, and send in your queries with the title ‘Ask Bee’ to email@example.com. She’d be happy to oblige.
In this first post, she addresses job hunting, a pressing issue for most women who’ve just moved to Saudi. Read on and find out.
Bee is a 30 something mother, wife, corporate consultant and a bona fide prodigy in the art of shelling out unnecessary, unsolicited and often useless advice. The kind people at her office actually pay her for doing this on an hourly daily basis and she returns the kindness by making them lose sleep over random pointless issues. She currently lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with her very sane husband (he takes after his mother) and her two not very sane children (they too take after their mother). Her own personal hell would be to have nothing to do with no-one paying her for pretending to have nothing to do.
“Dear Bee, I’ve been in Jeddah for four months now. I applied to several companies for a job, sending my CV to the email addresses on the websites, but haven’t had any response as yet. General opinion is very discouraging regarding women and job opportunities. I’m sick of staying home and staring at the walls. Please help me before I go crazy, or eat my way to death!”
– Desperate Housewife in Saudi
Dear Desperate Housewife in Saudi
“I HEAR YA” is all I have to say about your situation because not too long ago I was in a similar one. Having moved here from a country that offered very attractive opportunities for smart well educated women (even if I say so myself), it was a nasty shock to be faced with the prospect of being unemployed merely because of cultural issues. To add insult to injury, they put a not very discreet and perhaps a little threatening “not allowed to work” stamp on your visa so that any evil employment plan you may have in your head is nipped in the bud.
That said, I will go ahead and make a sweeping generalization here; if you are sure you want to work, sooner or later you WILL land a job. Here are my top five tips for being successfully and gainfully employed in Saudi:
1. Forget about sending CVs to the email addresses that do not belong to a person. Saudi companies are not very tech savvy and email addresses that start with info, HR, jobs, employment etc. never get opened. Instead go to the company contact page on their website and call the company office to get the email address of the HR manager…. or the CEO if you are like me!
2. Most job vacancies never get advertised but the companies here are constantly in need of good talented people in all fields. I can’t even remember how many of my corporate clients have asked me if I know of any good people looking for jobs. Your best bet here is to choose the companies you want to work for and start applying (refer to tip above). The two links below are a good starting point because they generally have a higher percentage of women than usual:
3. DO NOT underestimate the power of contacts. Talk to anyone and everyone you know and tell them that you are looking for a job. Most people will be willing to help and if they can’t get you a job, the least they can do is share the email address of the CEO/ HR manager etc. at their company so that you don’t go off shooting in the dark.
4. Update your LinkedIn and Bayt.com profiles. More and more companies here in KSA are hiring through LinkedIn especially when it comes to one-off projects. Put your qualification etc, join relevant local groups and do not forget to mention that you are an Iqama holder and are willing to work flexible or on project basis.
5. My last tip and something that takes bit of courage is to take this opportunity to become an entrepreneur. Whatever your passion is; be it cooking, dancing, fitness, writing, teaching etc. Saudi is a land of opportunities. I know of people who have started small home based businesses, promoted themselves through Social Media (Facebook etc.) and are now making more money than their paycheck back home. Above all, you get to live your dream!
Do you have a question for Bee? Write in to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Ask Bee’ in the subject.