Despite its near legendary reputation of a high-paying destination and no tax haven, UAE companies may not be willing to pay unrealistic amounts to expats coming here for work.
Too many expats, even after the recession years, have high expectations and often make unrealistic salary and benefit demands, which, many a times is difficult to meet.
According to recruitment experts in the country, the economy is in much better shape with annual increments and bonuses coming again to the fore but expat expectations are often misguided and in many cases out of touch with reality.
“Quite often they are too high,” says Gareth Clayton, Director Finance and Banking at Charterhouse Partnership. But, high expectations may not necessarily translate into what is finally offered.
More jobs are being made available in the market, which may put pressure on companies to improve their pay levels. But this means getting back the annual increments (albeit in single digits) and bonuses that had evaporated during the low growth years. Even though the job growth has improved, the fact remains that number of candidates available for work far outweighs the vacancies that need to be filled.
Job portals show a huge gap between the number of registered vacancies and registered job seekers on the websites.
“[We] currently have more than 3965 vacancies advertised online in the UAE, with more than 1690 job posts in Dubai alone. To these are added hundreds, if not thousands, of unadvertised positions that employers prefer filling by browsing our database of CVs. And with more than 11 million job seekers registered on Bayt.com today, 1,584,000 are from the UAE,” VP Sales, Suhail Masri, Bayt.com recently told this website.
This will set the market trend and the days of employers signing big amounts is nowhere in sight as of now.
“Whilst the market is buoyant, the supply of candidates is also very strong. Simple supply and demand economics will dictate that this will impact the wage level,” as Clayton puts it.
People coming from other countries still believe that UAE companies will pay an all-expense paid package to them, which recruitment analysts believe is only naïve.
“I think the expectations of people wanting to work in the UAE are misguided by a lack of understanding of what is happening on the ground,” Ash Athawale, Recruitment Manager, at recruitment firm REED told us.
“Salaries in the UAE are very competitive with a promising career growth but the overall market is still relatively small. Bonuses are regularly paid out, which candidates in the West haven’t seen due to the strain on their economies,” he added.
The cost of living has also not touched the roof as in 2008 and prior to that. During that time high rents would often pressurise companies to dole out more to employees.
For the past two years, inflation has not played the devil and rents in Dubai have only appreciated in the past few months in certain localities, keeping a lid on double-digit or out of turn pay hikes.
“The cost of living has stabilised quite a bit in the past 3 to 4 years. Schooling may be an added expense that candidates don’t consider. The tax-free element doesn’t quite apply to all nationalities,” explains Athawale while stressing that “candidates need to research thoroughly and make a trip to the UAE,” to get a clearer picture.
Last year, a survey released by recruitment firm, Robert Half revealed that four in 10 overseas candidates have expectations for remuneration that exceed market conditions.
The survey indicated that while nearly half (49 per cent) of respondents believed the number of overseas candidates moving to the UAE has remained the same, many of these individuals have raised their hopes for higher salary and benefits than what the market prescribes.