If you're settling in the UAE after graduation, you happen to be in a bustling job market — good for you! Now you just got to nail down a dream job, no pressure 😏
Lucky for you, you're entering the job market in a post-covid era; meaning, many employers have become accustomed to non-traditional employment arrangements. We're talking work-from-home, remote-work, and flexible-working. This simply opens more doors of opportunity for you, dear job seeker.
Here's how you can create your dream career before the summer is over 👇
(1) Embrace free agency
If you have a specific skill (or set of skills) that you can monetize, you can pitch to win contractual gigs on websites and platforms that connect talent with people and companies looking to hire those skill sets. Examples of these sites are Fiverr and Upwork.
Setting up profiles on these sites takes little time, and you can expect these intermediaries to handle payments with clients as well, which makes settling payment dues easier for you. Mind you, they take a cut of your earnings in exchange for listing you and providing you with access to buyers on their marketplaces, but it's a small price to pay (for many) to avoid you chasing down pending invoices.
You'll need to set yourself apart from others on these platforms, though. Often, pricing is not the only lever to play with to win contracts. In fact, pricing yourself too low will likely work against you, because buyers often associate pricing with quality of output. So, setting the bar too low means that you don't value the quality of your own work, necessarily.
You can differentiate through your portfolio, instead. Put up some rockin' examples of work you've done, using the skills you're pitching. Once you start to earn work on these sites, follow up with your clients after you've delivered projects and ask them to leave reviews of your work and service level. This will help verify and add credibility to your experience when others are looking you up.
As for pricing, browse the profiles of other people who are listing similar services and quality of output (from what you can perceive from their public portfolios) and set the bar at something similar. You can always adjust your pricing once your time becomes more scarce with client work.
(2) Be your own boss!
For some, you can be your own boss! This can be a route that is venture-backed, like a tech startup, or even a route where you build a personal brand and monetize an audience, like a content creator.
This route is particularly empowering if you have an entrepreneurial itch and have the discipline to turn up to work. When you run your own business, that's sometimes easier said than done because you need to hold yourself accountable for building something up to a level that you can take it to market. Once you are able to reach that milestone, often, the pressure of having to deliver to your client acts like a "boss" in some way.
If you're in the UAE, reaching out to a startup hub is a good starting point to get the resources you need to get going. If you're into the arts and literature, Sheraa, that's based in Sharjah, is a good place to start. If you're into finance and business, rather, DIFC FinTech Hive, that's based in Dubai, is a more suitable place to start. Heck, if you don't mind working outside of UAE working hours, you can even explore hubs internationally. Y Combinator is a world-famous platform that's based in the United States, for example. Since covid hit, a lot of these programs now run virtually, which makes them more accessible to people around the world because you don't have to worry about covering airfare and accommodation to attend.
Often, these hubs run incubator and accelerator programs that are structured methods for you to build your business. Often, these programs are free to attend and even grant you seed money, freebies from other companies, and access to industry experts. Mind you, though, the really good programs are quite competitive to get into, so you'll have to draft a stellar pitch.
(3) Use good old LinkedIn
Not every recent graduate needs to break traditions. Sometimes, having a "normal" job (which basically means you're employed by a company) is a great thing for you to learn about a new industry, pick up some skills under someone else's dime, or even learn about workplace culture and ethics.
To get a "job", per se, LinkedIn is the place to be. Jazz up your profile (with things relevant to your professional profile, such as your portfolio and internship experiences) and start browsing open jobs that are listed on the site. After you apply to them, reach out to the person who posted them, or even someone at the company if the specific job lister is not listed —just make sure that the person appears to be in the department that seems to be hiring for that role, based on the role's job description. The reason you'd want to do this is to stand out, amongst the pool of other applicants, as someone who's proactive. The outreach doesn't have to stop with the DMs, though; you can also explore your personal and university alumni networks to identify people who are in the hiring department for you to reach out and ask them for a coffee to learn more about the job (not to just pitch yourself to them over the phone).
LinkedIn is not the one-and-only source of job listings, though. You can, in parallel, also reach out to your university careers center because they would have their own closed job board that would have listings by companies looking to specifically hire graduates of that university. Often, these career centers will also organize job fairs that are basically speed dating opportunities for employers and job seekers to meet.
You've landed a gig, now what?
There you have it, three ways you can start to make a living now that you're armed with a university degree. That being said, your learning doesn't stop there. Every job experience is an opportunity to build the skills in your arsenal — so go get it!
After you start earning, you're going to have to figure out what the heck to do with your hard-earned cash! Check out our other blog posts to help you set a budget and plan for savings. To help you stay on top of this all, we recommend you use a digital expense tracker so that you make sure you're sticking to your plan — that's what adults do, after all!