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?!? ;))
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.
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!)
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org