Tips on finding a job in Lebanon

I get emails almost every week from people eager to find a job in Lebanon. Which is really quite funny, since I’m now in the same boat as them! (How else do you think I was able to take a two and a half month vacation?!? ;))

Looking for a job!

lol.

source

Anyway, back to the point.

Anyone who knows anything about Lebanon knows that finding a job here is more about who you know than what you know (as cliche as that sounds, it’s the truth). Which makes it difficult for people from abroad, even those of Lebanese origin, to find a job…when there are literally thousands of highly qualified, born and bred, Lebanese applicants who can’t seem to find work..

To all of the foreigners reading this..if you want to find a job in Lebanon be ready to put up a fight. Know from now that the average Lebanese person speaks 3 sometimes 4 languages fluently, has their Bachelors and oftentimes their Masters, and has spent their whole lives building up connections in Lebanon. This puts you (AND ME) at a severe disadvantage.

I need a job.

hahaha. classic.

Unless you can genuinely prove that what you have to offer is that unique or that specialized, you will have a very hard time finding a job. Aaaaaaand, let’s not forget, that even if you DO manage to find a job, chances are that the salary will be waaaaay below your expectations, and will be JUST enough to cover your most basic expenses. Of course there are a few exceptions to the rule, but this is generally the case based on my own personal experience as well as the experiences of other foreigners I know who are working in Lebanon. If money is not an issue for you and you just want to get the experience, then go for it!

Another thing..unpaid internships are common in Leb. Even for people with a flippin’ MASTERS DEGREE! This is especially true when you are apply for a job with a high profile company where there are a lot of applicants vying for the position. 3 month probationary periods are also standard here..but that’s pretty much the case everywhere around the world. Where this becomes a problem is for a person like me, who needs a visa in order to work in Lebanon in the first place. From what I understand, as a foreigner..you are able to work on an internship basis if the company applies for your work status with immigration.. but please note that it is VERY challenging (I can’t stress how challenging) to get a company in Lebanon to go on a whim for you..a foreigner who foolishly decided he/she wanted to work in Lebanon ahaha.🙂 I’ll be honest and tell you that this fact alone has led many foreigners to work illegally in Lebanon. But good luck trying to convince immigration that you’re just “chilling in Lebanon and going to Gemmayzeh every night.” You might be able to pull it off for a year,, two max..but then it will get very difficult as you will have to travel in and out of the country every three months in order to keep your visa valid.

I’m sorry if I’m being too harsh here, but I just want to be honest! If you’re not too discouraged..please keep reading. But let me just say, that the following tips are NOT mind blowing, nor are they by ANY means a panacea to your job search woes. That being said, they might just remind you of the benefits of building (and tapping into) your social and professional network.

First and foremost, follow up on any and all leads you have via family and friends in Lebanon. As uncomfortable as it may be, it’s a MUST! You will find that many people in Lebanon got their jobs via family/friend connecctions. So there is absolutely no shame in doing the same.

Secondly. GET SERIOUS ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA. Socialize with a purpose! If you haven’t already, open an account on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Behance.net (if you’re a creative professional) and connect with all of the relevant people in your industry (both in Lebanon and abroad). See what they’re doing, what they’re talking about..join in on the conversation…and then, do it BETTER! (it’s a dog eat dog world my friends!) Take a strategic, yet natural approach to building your network! There are no limits to the amount of professional networking you can do online..so take advantage of it! But please do NOT be an annoying spammer. The same rules that apply offline, apply online. No one likes someone who only talks about themselves! Be genuine in how you build relationships and in how you communicate online. (These tips might be obvious and repetitive to some of you, but judging from the people who have been contacting me, I thought it would be a goo idea to remind people just how many networking opportunities are available..and for FREE!)

Networking online

get to talking!

Start a blog about you industry to display your expertise. Whatever your field, showing a potential employer that you are passionate and dedicated enough to create a blog is definitely a PLUS. But remember, the key to blogging is relevant, and continually updated content. You must be consistent! Plan to post AT LEAST twice a week (always making sure to promote your blog on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) if you are really serious about your blog taking off. Also, a referral network called Referral Key seems to be gaining popularity in Lebanon, so I suggest opening an account there too!

Job sites..well there are only a few job sites that I know of which which cater to the Lebanese market. Bayt.com and Monster Gulf being two of the more popular. Search there for potential opportunities and post your CV, but please don’t be surprised if you don’t get a response back! If anyone knows of any other job sites, please do leave them in the comments!

And finally, if you’re in Lebanon, attend every single networking event you can possibly fit into your schedule! (If you’re unemployed, I’m assuming you have a lot of time on your hands). And if networking events don’t exist for your particular industry, create one! TRUST ME it will be worth the time and effort! And who knows, you might just find out that you have a knack for event planning?!! The best example I can think of is the ArabNet conference for digital professionals..in only 1 year the event has experienced exponential growth in attendance (and I’m sure profits as well) and is one of the major regional networking events for people in the digital industry!😉 Check out the ArabNet website and FB page here and here.

The interview process

Interviewingsource

Ok, let’s assume you’ve made it through all of the above hurdles and have been called in for an interview. First of all, I recommend reading all of the tips and tricks you can find about interviewing, and then having a friend or family member test you. Make sure to read up on the company you are going to be interviewing with, and be prepared to cite examples and case studies and even reel off a few ideas you have during the interview (being careful not to give away too much – something I’ve definitely been guilty of).

If you are interviewing for freelance work and the client asks you for samples, PLEASE BE CAREFUL! I’ve personally been ripped off one too many times in an effort to show a client/company what I’m capable of..only to be stripped of my work with NO COMPENSATION! So, please don’t make the same mistake I did. Show potential clients work you’ve done in the past, or ask for a strategic development fee. And always make sure not to send the document/work to the client. Present it to them face to face..and if it’s something huge, ask them to sign a document stating that they will not use your work/ideas without compensating you.😉

Ok,,I kind of went off on a tangent there. Back to the interview process. Confidence, confidence, confidence is key! You cannot show any sign of weakness or uncertainty in yourself. To quote an excerpt from one of my previous posts,

“Never (publicly) doubt yourself – Lebanon is not for the faint of heart.  The moment she senses any weakness in you..she will chew you up and spit you out like a tasteless piece of gum.  Humility gets you nowhere with her..  She prefers the qualities of self-confidence, self-assuredness, assertiveness, and arrogance.  Even if deep inside, you know that you are unqualified, or don’t have the means/capabilities to accomplish a task/challenge..you must always say the contrary, and deal with the consequences afterwards.

In simpler terms, when in Lebanon, you must: Fake it until you make it.”

What I mean here is that you always need to act like you have all of the answers, even if you don’t. Please note that it is not sustainable to continually fake your way through life..you must be able to deliver on your promises or it will eventually catch up to you..But be prepared to show what your made of. Lebanese employers like to feel like they’re working with EXPERTS..even if deep inside they know that isn’t the case. (I hope I’m making sense here!) They want to know that you can display confidence and certainty in any and every situation. Oh and please, for all of you people with 3 page resumes out there..WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? No one wants to read a three page resume!!!..not you, not me, not a Human Resources Manager, and definitely not a CEO. Edit..Edit..Edit..only keeping the things that are absolutely necessary and relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Wheewwww! Ok! I didn’t think that this post would end up being so long! I hope that those of you looking for a job in Lebanon were able to take at least 1 thing away from it and weren’t too discouraged in the process!!

What do you think about the tips I posted here? Helpful, or not so much?

Good luck on your job hunt! (I know I’ll need it!)

P.S. You can send me your CV if you like, and I’ll do all I can to help you out! Email me at this.is.beirut@gmail.com

50 Comments

Filed under life in Lebanon, Working in Lebanon

50 responses to “Tips on finding a job in Lebanon

  1. Elie

    As an employer, I’ve posted jobs on http://www.jobs.com.lb and http://www.hirelebanese.com. They are not as expansive as Bayt or Monster, but they are also significantly less expensive for the employer, so you may find smaller companies on there.

    Good luck.

  2. Bahij

    Great article. As someone who may be moving to Lebanon soon it is very helpful. Keep up the good work!

  3. Elie

    oh you sly dog!! very smart way to earn some tips about finding a job without having to ask for it … i’d hire you just for your sneaky ways😉

  4. Very interesting post!🙂

  5. Regardless of how harsh some might find this post, I like how realistic and down to earth it is… good job🙂

  6. Great post! Answers lots of questions I’ve been having about finding work here. Now to actually do it!

    • Yes.. I will say that finding a job in Lebanon takes significantly more effort than it really should! But now that you know how to get started.. What are you waiting for? Time waits on no man!🙂

  7. I think this will Lebanese abroad and at home.. and foreigners as well.
    Good job!

  8. Sean

    oh shut up!! 😀 hahahah you know you got a job interview waiting for you when you get back!😛

  9. alextohme

    great post, i totally agree with the “humility” section. I’ve realised something in this region which is different to employment in other geographic areas.
    westerners don’t doubt themselves per se but dont’ puff themselves up a lot either. i used to find it very ego centric and aggressive when i hear a lot of lebanese start their sentences with “ana” or talk a lot about themselves, until i realised that this is part of the social fabric here and is in fact a way of adaptation survival

    in non merit based work scenarios and less democratic workplace environments, (both intra enterprise and in the marketplace as a whole), you do need a leader, or clear leadership qualities in order to survive and get others around you. if you are an employer, in order to attract the best talent, it may be a good strategy to act fearlessly and promote oneself a lot, irrespective if you are any better than the next employer but you will be perceived as a stronger force.

    as a potential employee if you can demonstrate your importance and how you have influenced others and show off your work, you will be perceived as a must have. Although sometimes, as you’ve pointed out, people seem to have to unnecessarily prove themselves just to get even a basic job at the bottom of the ladder.

    A potential employee should be “honoured” to work in a multi national company or one with a big name, somehow this should make up for the lack of pay / training / opportunities for career development. i know of several global companies operating in lebanon and rather than the global expertise and flavour being brought into the country, the lebanese way of doing things takes over. so the employee really doesn’t gain anything but should regard his boss as someone very important who manages to “represent” the global name in the land of the cedars.

    As you said, its imperative to network because lebanon is still an environment where recommendations of a friend or professional acquaintance can be more influential than a previous position or degree held.

    • Alex, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to truly contribute to my posts! I agree (as usual) with all of the points you mentioned here! Most of the multi-nationals operating in Lebanon do not bring a level of global expertise to the market..but rather perpetuate the typical Lebanese stereotypes.. And I haven’t even begun to discuss (religious and social) preferential treatment in the work place! But that’s a discussion for another day.

      You get me girl, you always did!

  10. Afif

    Thanks so much, this insight is important where things are very different here in San Francisco. I will be starting to look for a job in Beirut next month, I will re-read this post to keep your words in the back of my head🙂

  11. You’ve highlighted the big difference between Anglo-Saxon and Mediterranean employment methods “what’s a relative between friends?” versus “why should I employ anyone else, if a family member needs a job?”
    Not sure where “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” comes in though!

  12. excellent, excellent post! Will be showing this to everyone I try to convince to move to Lebanon🙂

  13. Good article, I fall in that category of “returning Lebanese”.
    If I may add from my own experience : I got like over 20 “you’re overqualified” for the position answer🙂 . To the extent I was left with 2 options : move to another country where I am qualified, or (2) fake my CV in manner that says : I’m an idiot, please hire me🙂

  14. Pingback: 5 emerging careers to look out for in Lebanon | This is Beirut

  15. Silvie

    Ohhhh jeho abolutly pravda: DI Hledám práci v Libanonu za 3 měsíce a stále nic. Já jen, že nemám mluvit arabsky? Jsem cizinec a pracuji v EU jako manažer lidských zdrojů, ale samozřejmě očekávám, že na jiné místo, aniž by arabsky, ale já nevím, kde bych mohl najít tyto nabídky na tato pracovní místa ….

  16. Silvie

    sorry 1st was by czech😀 I am looking for work in Lebanon for 3 months and still nothing. It’s just that I not speak Arabic? I am a foreigner and I work in the EU as a manager of human resources, but of course I expect a different position without Arabic, but I do not know where I can find these offers on the jobs..

  17. I was trying to compare between lebanese job boards and i found a job on this amazing website number one in lebanon http://www.huntinglebanese.com. try it and give me your feedback

  18. Thanks awfully!!!
    Brutal truth of an article is rather encouraging than dispiriting!
    And P.S. is devilish noble! that’s what i call fine gesture!!!
    Danielle, may I really send my CV?
    Lebanese job seekers to sum up –
    http://jobsearch.monstergulf.com
    http://www.bayt.com/
    http://www.hirelebanese.com
    http://www.gulftalent.com
    http://www.huntinglebanese.com

    Thank you!!

  19. Armine

    Hi all
    I am from Armenia. I have been in Beirut in this summer and i really liked it. So now i am looking for an internship or even volunteering opportunity in Lebanon so pleas let me know if you can help me somehow, Thanks

  20. I need haircolorist femail from lebanon to come to work in saudi arabia i have ladies center

  21. miki

    haha…. its midnght here in Stockholm… and i hv ended up here on your million dollar blog… u knw why…dnt u?:)

    have just finished my masters degree in IT here in Sweden and was thinking to hv some years of work experience from middle east….Lebanon sounds perfect as i hv been there twice( yup yup I love it) and hv lot of lebanese friends here……

    I will probably start searching from next month… hope its going to be EASY? i think i hv got motivated rather than getting scared after reading your post:P

    well no worry.. if i dnt make it by myself i can always bother you nd the rest of the wonderful folks here:D

  22. Ned

    Spicy I like, I like. So true,

  23. haneen

    hey i only want to come to lebanon for a good vication.
    can any one have me for like one week !!!!

  24. Joe

    Great Article, describes the Lebanese situation simply yet precisely. Just one point that I would like to add if I may, hiring someone in Lebanon is a bit of a double sided problem as hiring companies are also facing hard times in finding right candidates, simply because most of the Lebanese are either fleeing away or getting counter offers when they resign, so we can say that finding a right candidate in Lebanon is just like finding an empty parking space in Beirut  good ones are always taken. In fact, the responsibility of choosing is always higher on the employer’s side. Some sites are really helpful such as hire Lebanese as they deal with the specific needs of the Lebanese companies and doesn’t have bulk data of unwanted c.v;s from all nationalities and calibers.

  25. “Tips on finding a job in Lebanon | This is Beirut” ended up being a great
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  27. Ghassan

    useful article , so u think i’ll find one or not ?

  28. Very interesting! Great Post, I am happy to say this that i am on the right place. I really got lots of answer of my question. Thanks anyway.
    careerjobpk.com

  29. I read the above, but for me i tried them all i just got replies and huge feedback from http://www.huntinglebanese.com you will be surprised how much calls you will get. I believe this is number one job board for lebanese people.

  30. tony irany

    Im a senior sale and ilike to work in this domain

  31. Kate

    Hello! I just wanted to leave a reply on this post. I am about to complete my MFA program and Lebanon is the place I want to be next. I have friends there and was able to visit this last winter. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have been in my travels. I’ve been looking for jobs for about a month now and have been working with a Lebanese friend to try every option I can. I have been grilling away at search engines trying get my hands on more job opportunities.
    This is, by far, the most helpful page and blog that I have run into. Thank you so much for your honest and detailed information. The comments have been just as helpful! It has encouraged me to investigate a few other routes. I’m not sure where you’re at now or if your offer still stands, but I’d love to send you my CV Thank you!

  32. am a kenyan man 29yrs ..am a hardworkingam a god fearings and am respected to everyone .ijust want to find job…aim a driver with heavy commercial am iam a gerdener house.house kipping land scaping my ..name is safari mangale gwaya..my number is +254705296398

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