5 Essential Middle East Executive Job Search Tips

5 Essential Middle East Executive Job Search Tips

Not every professional possesses the skills and discipline to ascend to the ranks of a Chief Executive Officer position. However, like all business roles, there will be plenty of stiff competition for the select executive roles that become available on the job market, especially in the Middle East. When you are job searching it is important, especially when you are seeking an executive level position, to promote your expertise and achieve recognition as a viable leader in your field. Follow these 5 Essential Middle East Executive Job Search Tips to raise your profile and increase your chances of thriving in the Middle East executive job market.

5 Essential Executive Job Search Tips for the Middle East

Middle East Business Meeting

1. Understand local and regional industry norms

Every city and region has its own unique customs and professional differences. For instance, in Bahrain it is unusual for any accords to be made or contracts signed at the first business meeting. In fact, you must be prepared for a much slower style of business than what you may have experienced in Europe. Whether you are a native son coming home or an expat going abroad, it is essential to do your homework and understand the unique features of the market you now aspire to enter into. Conduct research and contact individuals with Middle East executive experience to provide insights into what to expect and what’s most valued in that location; this will lead you to developing better keywords and points of emphasis for CVs and interviews.

Demonstrate thought leadership

2. Demonstrate thought leadership

Another key element in obtaining an executive position is to demonstrate your acumen in the industry. Many corporate boards will not take a candidate seriously if they do not demonstrate competence in the subject matter. While you may have past executive experience in the retail sector, does that do much to warrant a similar position in the energy sector? Many say no.

Let your industrial expertise be known and publicly accessible. Michael Burroughs, President of Executive Integration and Coaching Services for the global executive scouting firm DHR International, maintains that “Many executives tell themselves that they are too busy succeeding to take time to reflect and share their expertise with others. It is time to reconsider that position. Doing so will set you apart. There are plenty of people who are searching the internet for the sage advice, wisdom and experience of others. Executive recruiters are doing this as well.”.

Perhaps develop a professional bi-weekly blog where you delve into industry topics where you are clearly adroit. Try to become published with articles in trade publications and newsfeeds; better yet, write a book or e-book.

Visibility can also be garnered without the use of literature. You can also volunteer to give breakout sessions at professional or industry conferences. Or create short informational features which you can upload to YouTube and other video social media.

Attend regional industry events

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Non-Executive Director: A New Perspective On Your Career

3. Attend regional industry events

You do not have to give breakout sessions to achieve successful visibility at regional industry events. Simply attending the events can be a beneficial tool all on its own. Engaging with colleagues, and with other executives in particular, in small groups and private conversations can produce stronger relationships and demonstrate your competence without the need of public speaking or prepared remarks. Make a point of emphasis to attend the top regional conferences, such as Food Chain Dubai or Middle East Air Cargo and Logistics Exhibition & Conference.

Promote via social media

4. Promote via social media 

Social engaging will be another critical element in becoming a more attractive candidate for executive positions. The key here is to capitalize on the social media platforms most widely utilized within your industry; as a caveat, always use LinkedIn as a primary or secondary platform. Beyond producing great content, make sure that your contact information is on your profile and that you demonstrate a professional bearing online.

Distinguish yourself from the incumbent

When looking for a job your CV is the most important document to reflect your expertise towards the type of role that you’re looking for.
Click the below button to receive a free professional appraisal by one of our Client Relationship Managers. This will ensure that your CV is not only competitive on the international executive job market, but that it also reflects your skills and achievements throughout your career.

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5. Distinguish yourself from the incumbent.

This is a fine line between being a reformer and continuing the corporate lineage that all executives must balance. No executive can realistically succeed at completely altering a firm. Many board members will not want this in the first place, and they will disregard your candidacy. However, the incumbent is rarely without their faults; that’s why many of them are moved along in the first place. Take the time to discover what aspects of your leadership should be different from past endeavours, and which elements are essential to keep the same for the well-being of the company.


The executive job market in the Middle East is a fiercely competitive arena where every possible advantage must be utilized to achieve success. By following these five principles and performing them well, you will make yourself a more accessible and attractive candidate to executive recruiters. This can make all the difference in landing that dream position.

Make sure you’re ready to to take your career to CEO level and succeed. Sign up to the CI Executive Career Management programme and get access to a Career Coach to guide and coach you through your journey to board level. Also don’t forget to keep a lookout for the top roles that become available in emerging markets.

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