Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saudi Arabia: The Most Wonderful Résumés

A couple of months ago, I was asked to help our company in recruiting 2 individuals for two positions at a government hospital in Jeddah. On the day that I posted the ad online, I got about a hundred applications. I was stunned, but I had to get to work since the company needed to fill those vacancies urgently. 

Most of the applicants (95%) sent their emails without cover letters. Is this the general tendency in Saudi Arabia only or is this what usually happens in the Middle East and Asian countries? I ask this question because all of the applicants who sent in these wonderful CVs or résumés came from this part of the world. I come from a country where it is mandatory to send a cover letter along with your CV when applying for a job, even though everyone knows that the letter might end up in someone's trash or serve as paper to wrap doughnuts or peanuts at lunch. Nevertheless, people still write cover letters whenever they are applying for a job. 

In Saudi Arabia, it is common knowledge that employers never glance at cover letters, so the general opinion is, "what is the need of writing them anyway?" When I just came to Saudi, I didn't know that this was the general tendency, so every time I applied for a job, I always included a cover letter. After living in this country for 3 years, I also got into the habit of not writing a cover letter when applying for a job. This always irritated my husband, who after living here for 5 years, still felt it was necessary to write one even if it would not be read by a potential employer.   

Another surprising thing which I saw was what applicants wrote on their CVs. My! Is this another tendency in Saudi Arabia or what? Over half of them gave too much of their personal details like, the name of their father, their father's experience, the number of siblings in their families etc. Some even went as far as saying that their father had Saudi nationality and that they were under the sponsorship of their father! Has anyone out there carried out a study to find out how information of this type would help job seekers in Saudi Arabia land a job? Please send the results of this research to my email address. Thank you!

So what happens if you can't write your CV correctly? Consult someone whom you judge has the experience in doing so. Many CV writing services such as, or Resume Lines can be gotten online for a reasonable fee. If you do not have the possibility of paying online, look for a CV writer locally. As far as I am concerned, I have come across a few CV writers here in Jeddah who charge only 50SAR (13.3$) per CV. My husband for one has experience in writing CVs, and he has the habit of writing them for friends and relatives, for free of course. If you really want a job and want to have your application considered, then you would not mind going that extra distance to get someone, friend or acquaintance, to write you a professional CV.

So what do I think?

  • Write a cover letter. It doesn't cost anything, right? It might be read, who knows? You might also stand out among other applicants who have the same qualification as you but who applied for the position without attaching a cover letter. Most experts advice job seekers to write one when applying for a job.  
  • While it is worth mentioning the name of your sponsor, I doubt it is necessary to write it on your CV. I think that should be left out until when you are asked for that information at an interview. What many employers are interested in knowing is whether your iqama or residence permit is transferable or not. Writing this information on your CV is enough.

If you have not yet read what you need to leave out of your CV, you can get some tips from here.


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  4. While it is good to have a professional CV made for yourself, be careful to have it written by "LOCALS", born-nationals from the Middle East countries, who understand the culture and recruitment much more than people from outside the region. The Resume Writing Service from is such a professional Online CV writing Service in Saudi Arabia. And, they think the Cover Letter to be VERY important, so they offer it FREE with the CV.

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  10. Selam from Turkey. I read this article and very true. One of my uncles got a job in Saudi Arabia just a couple of months ago and I helped him to write his CV actually. But also I would like to make a suggestion here. We looked for job from the web site called CareerJet SA ... Guys believe or not he found his job just in a month and move there. This one is really updated always and very serious. Just share it and maybe useful for you guys. Cheers...

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