Whilst graduates can expect their salary to be lower than their more experienced peers, a new survey has found that young candidates are struggling to land a job in Dubai.

Market research firm YouGov and UAE job site Bayt.com have surveyed over 4,000 grads in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) to find out their views on their job hunting experience.

Nearly a third (26%) of them agreed that landing a job these days is indeed “very difficult”. Most young candidates (52%) who don’t have any experience in the workplace feel that employers prefer job applicants with experience.

Unemployment among the young population in the Mena region is relatively high, with the youth joblessness rate reaching 23%, almost double the global average of 13%. Bayt.com said the number of young people without jobs is only adding to the discontent among fresh graduates.

Vice President for employer solutions at Bayt.com, Suhail Masri, thinks companies looking to hire for senior positions mostly look for candidates with relevant industry experience, leadership qualities, communication and negotiation skills and ability to work under pressure, among others.

Speaking to Gulf News, Masri said, “These skills are also among the most valued for mid-to junior-level positions, however, to a lesser degree”.

Masri added that fresh graduates, however, are still being employed for a wide variety of roles, including positions like optometrist, accountant, dentist, video editor, fitness trainer and sales engineer, among others.

Despite the challenges they think they’re facing, fresh graduates are not giving up. Almost a third of the youth (27%) said they will start looking for employment opportunities outside the industry they are qualified for, while 16% said they will explore vacancies no matter the industry.

Masri said, “The results suggest that while fresh graduates across the region expect it to be challenging to find a job, many are resilient and unwilling to compromise on their dreams and ambitions. Indeed, the largest proportion of fresh graduates surveyed claimed they would keep looking until they found a job in their industry or choice and a job they feel passionate about”.

Many fresh graduates are unaware of the current salary trends but they’re looking to receive between $750 (Dh2,700) and $2,000 (Dh7,345) per month. In other countries like Egypt, salary expectations are even lower, with 53% of young candidates there looking to receive $500 or less. In Saudi Arabia, salary expectations of 46% of the new graduates range between $1,000 and $3,000 per month.

Companies who hire young applicants, however, said that the lower salary expectations (49%), compliance and willingness to follow instructions (36%) are their key motivators for hiring inexperienced candidates.

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