Are you a ‘Part (semi) Qualified Accountant’ and wanting to move to the UAE?
In this article, Bharat Sharma shares with us the exact steps he took to find a job opportunity in the UAE as a semi-qualified Chartered Accountant.
Presently he is working in a well-known organization in Dubai in the Accounts team.
You can connect to Bharat over LinkedIn at –Bharat Sharma.
If you have any questions you can comment below and ask Bharat.
My Journey from Mumbai to Dubai
Before moving to Dubai I was working in Mumbai (India) in the corporate sector as an Assistant Manager – Accounts and finance.
After multiple attempts, I did not clear my CA Final exams from ICAI. I was no longer motivated to continue studying for the same. I felt that I was in the diminishing marginal utility phase and was no sooner going to get out of it.
Now to become a qualified Chartered Accountant from ICAI one has to clear- 3 levels of exams (CPT, IPCC, CA Finals) + 3 years of articleship.
I had cleared 2 levels – CPT (Level 1 exam) and IPCC (level 2 exam). I had also completed my 3 years of articleship at a Chartered Accounting firm in Mumbai. My only hurdle was – Clearing CA Final exams.
I just kept failing the exams. Not to sound boastful but overall I am hardworking, efficient and a very optimistic human but somewhere I was getting stuck and kept failing the exams. That is when I decided to quit pursuing CA.
Did I regret quitting CA? No. I had enough of it and wanted to move on. Most of all I was optimistic that I would succeed in life.
Now I did not clear any group in CA Final (CA Final has 2 groups) so the motivation to pursue CA Final was no longer there. My advice to students in a similar situation is to try to clear your CA Final exams if you have cleared one group or have an exemption. Do not give up. But if things are still not happening then there are many alternatives which can make you successful.
What next after quitting CA? Finding a job. I always wanted to work in a good company. However, when I applied for various job opportunities at good companies they all told me that ‘I lack in the qualification criteria’.
I applied to so many companies for a job but I was not called for interviews just because I was not a qualified Chartered Accountant. I was not even given a chance to prove myself. It was heart-wrenching because I was good at my job and I knew everything that a qualified Chartered Accountant should know.
So I realized that I either had to get back to studying CA again or pursue another professional qualification or maybe do an MBA.
I was considering doing an MBA but again that meant investing two years studying. I had already invested so much of my time pursuing CA and did not want to repeat the same mistake. I did not want to do a part-time MBA as again I thought that it might not add much value.
Luckily I happened to meet a friend who was pursuing CPA (USA). I asked him about the job and monetary scope of this qualification and he gave me a very positive review.
I went home and did my own research and realized that nowadays a lot of US companies in India are looking for CPA’s from AICPA.
Now CPA comes with disadvantages in India as there is a limited job market for this degree so a qualified Chartered Accountant from ICAI has more scope in India. However, CPA (US) does have global recognition. So considering CPA is more of a global qualification I decided to pursue CPA from AICPA instead of an MBA.
Now the only issue with CPA is there are no centers in India to give the exams. The closest center to India are a few middle eastern countries. So that is when I decided to pursue CPA and give the exams in the Dubai (UAE) center.
For those who need a little idea about CPA:
- There are four papers in CPA: Audit, FAR, Tax, BEC (i.e Costing, FM, IT and Economics). All four papers are compulsory. No exemption is available either to CA (ICAI) or CA Inter. Not sure about other professional bodies. So kindly check if your professional body has an MoU with CPA (USA).
- I enrolled with Miles CPA in Mumbai which guided me through the whole process of CPA credits, classroom lectures, and notes, etc.
- The Prometric tests for the CPA exams were earlier conducted only in a few selected countries (Not in India). Even though the tests are online, they require the Indian candidates to take the exam from the U.S.
- However, there has been a steady increase in the number of Indian applicants in recent years. This compelled AICPA (The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) to allow Indian candidates to take the CPA exams from the Middle East Prometric centers.
- Indian candidates can appear for the CPA exam in Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain.
How I found a job in Dubai?
My intention was to come to Dubai on a visit visa give my exams and go back to India (my home country). I never intended to move out of India.
However, when I was about to come to Dubai to give my CPA exams I got in touch with a friend (a Chartered Accountant) who was working in Dubai.
He told me to come to Dubai on a 3 months visa (and not a one week visa) and after giving my exams to start looking for a job.
I was skeptical at first but since he was insisting I said let’s give it a shot. He guided me step by step about the entire process. I felt very positive about it. So I decided to apply for a 3-month visa and look for a job opportunity in the UAE.
Also, the company that I was working for in Mumbai was not giving me study leave to give my CPA exams. So I decided to quit my job and give my exams. Since I had no pressure to join work it was easy for me to decide to come on a 3-month visa and look for a job in the UAE.
My friend told me to do the following before coming to Dubai:
If you’re considering moving to Dubai, you might have thought “I’ll figure it out when I’m there”.
While it may be a positive way of thinking but you must have a few things figured out before moving to the UAE.
You could have an amazing life in Dubai in a short time if you know what and how you’d be doing here.
- Get a professional CV made: A great resume should summarise and highlight your strengths, skills, and experience in a way that grabs the attention of the recruiter. So invest a lot of time crafting a proper CV.
- To Carry all my certificates
- To Register on various job sites and upload my CV on various job portals
- To book an Airbnb space to stay for a few days in Dubai which I could later change for a bed space on dubizzle.
I did exactly the same and came to Dubai in Aug’18 on a 3-month visit visa.
After giving my CPA exams (I gave 2 papers) I started looking out for a job as guided by my friend.
Does Part / Semi qualified Accountants have an opportunity in the UAE?
I feel that semi-qualified Accountants with at least 5 years of corporate experience have good scope in the UAE. If a Part (Semi) qualified Accountant has no plans of pursuing further education he or she can still earn and do well in the UAE. But always remember if you are a fully Qualified Accountant you can obviously get better money and be more in demand.
What should you do when you first land in Dubai for a job?
I was lucky that I had a CA friend who meticulously guided me step by step from getting my CV done correctly to getting interview calls ringing (which can be a task). I followed all the instructions given by him and found a job in the UAE within 14 days. This is what he told me to do:
1. Get a Local Sim Card and Update Details on all Job Sites
Firstly, get a local sim card. Then update your local UAE number on all the job portals where you have uploaded your CV. From what I have observed, you will get an interview call only if you have a local no.
It takes at least one week for your CV to be circulated in the market from dropping bulk emails to recruiters and online job portals.
I personally would recommend anyone to take the paid version of Gulf salary. However, the waiting period to register on this site is 2-3 months sometimes but this site does give you a return on your investment. I personally did not register as I got to know about it later.
2. Email various Recruiters
I had a list of recruiters shared by my friend. I used this data to segregate and send emails to various recruiters.
3. Dress well and have confidence:
In the UAE the working conditions are a bit different than India. Your appearance (i.e formally well dressed) and command over the English language is very important.
Having good command over English makes it easier to communicate with personnel from different nationalities (since UAE is a multi-cultural country with more than 100 nationalities). But again it is not the only factor to get a job in the UAE.
If you are at an executive level please do wear your formal blazer for the interview.
4. Do not over expect on the salary front
My friend told me not to expect too much on the salary front. Being a fresher who is a semi-qualified Accountant you will get a good pay package but you have to accept the fact that when you start off it won’t be very fancy.
You can always find good accommodation on dubizzle or you can use Airbnb for initial days then maybe change your residence later.
I am describing each and every day below:
I came to Dubai in Aug’18. After giving my exams (2 CPA papers) I started looking for a job. Below is the daily description of my job hunt.
DAY 1: I was ready with my CV. As mentioned above, I prepared my CV in India itself in a new format which is acceptable in the Dubai market and got it approved by my friend.
The day I landed in Dubai I got a sim card as I needed a local no.
I updated my local nos on all the job portals where I had uploaded my CV.
After doing that I started applying for various job opportunities in the UAE (not only in Dubai but other emirates as well).
DAY 2: My friend had shared with me a list of email IDs of various recruiters and other corporates.
I had drafted an introductory email of myself and started sending bulk emails after carefully scrutinizing the email ids. A lot of emails do bounce back but what is required is to rotate your CV in the market.
I started to email all of them between 7.30 am t0 8.00am with the intention that my email is on top of their other emails.
DAY 3: Same process of bulk emails and applying on various job portals.
DAY 4: I realized that I was not receiving any views on the job portals so I decided to tweak my CV as per the Job Description and apply accordingly. Since job portals have software which catches words and sentences to match the job description and give a higher rating. That was a lot of work but I had to do it. I would recommend all of you to do the same.
So I would recommend all of you to include certain words of the job description in your CV.
DAY 5: I got my first call for an interview in Ibn Battuta which didn’t go well.
Since the job market now in Dubai is in a slow phase, I got my first jolt that my salary expectations are too high. I was sitting in an interview with 50 candidates with UAE experience who are asking for a salary lesser than me.
I realized that if I have salary expectations which are too high I have a lesser chance to succeed.
Also, there were candidates from Pakistan, Nepal, etc whose currency is much weaker than the Indian Rupee which indirectly gives them the advantage to quote a lower salary.
Be wise on your expectations as this is one big filter for any fresher looking for a job in the UAE.
DAY 6: It was a weekend – just kept a check on my emails and updated my CV on various job portals.
DAY 7: It was a weekend. Did the same thing.
DAY 8: Had an interview with a CA firm
DAY 9: Had an interview with two corporates
DAY 10: Second round with two corporate with one taking a written BS/MIS test.
DAY 11: Same application process and wait for a positive response
DAY 12: Same application process and wait for a positive response
DAY 13: Second round with CA firm partner – Rejected
DAY 14: Got a confirmation call and email of selection from one corporate
Another point I would like to point is, the applicant should do a thorough evaluation of the company he is selecting to join. You should know what sector are you applying in – consulting, construction industry, pharma, etc
I personally wanted to avoid construction companies due to a slowdown in the UAE.
I would like to share 10 career tips to find a job in the UAE:
- Networking is the key
- CV: The CV should be professionally made. You either get your CV professionally made or if you can make it yourself do that. But do not use the Indian CV format since here the competition is so severe recruiters do not have time to spend on some unorganized CV. This is where the appearance part comes in. Your CV should speak about you.
- In the UAE top corporates prefer candidates who have the following qualifications: Chartered Accountants, CPAs, and ACCA. Semi-qualified accountants are also in great demand. The best part about the UAE is they have good respect for semi-qualified accountants. So do not hesitate to apply.
- For interviews dress formally and be very confident.
- Get your educational certificates attested at the consulate which will cost you an additional AED 500 if done in the UAE. If done in India then INR 5000.
- Hiring takes place throughout the year in the UAE but the best months for hiring is Sept-April. So plan your travel accordingly.
- Come on a 3-month visit visa. You need at least 15-days t0 2 months to find a job in the UAE.
- I got a job in 14 days from the day I started searching for a job after my exams so I can say I was lucky and well guided by my friend. Have someone to guide you through the process.
- The average time period to get a job here is 15 days to 2 months so please ensure you are financially covered since it is a super expensive country. Minimum cash required for monthly expenses in Dubai is – food – 500, bed space – 700, Transport – 300, Misc – 250 i.e Total 1750 AED.
- Start uploading your CV on all job portals. I personally like Indeed and Gulf Salary.
- Also, have a good Linkedin profile. I haven’t tried a job search through LinkedIn but a lot of candidates are hired through LinkedIn in the UAE.
- Also, there are a lot of other ways to distribute your CV like bulk emails to recruiters, corporates etc. So do your research and find your way.
- Last but not least – Have a great attitude.
Do you have questions for me?
Ask me by leaving a comment below.
Also, I would love knowing your journey or experiences. So comment now.