Getting Out, Moving In: Changing Jobs in Dubai

It has been eight weeks since I handed my resignation letter to my manager. Then four weeks ago, I started work in a new company. Until now, everything isn’t settled down–from losing my identity to adjusting to the new environment. Changing jobs in Dubai (or probably in any foreign country) isn’t any same than changing an employer back home. It’s stressful, and often times regretful.

Company A

I’ve worked with Company A for three and a half years. I was hired directly from the Philippines, which means that I applied for a job online (through sending an application letter to the company’s HR), got interviewed by phone, offered a job via email and flown out of Manila at the company’s expense. I was blessed to scratch the horrors of applying for a job with a visit visa and exiting the country to Kish or Qeshm off the list.

But I came to Dubai at the wrong time–January 2009 was the height of the recession, and amongst fields, the crisis was most felt by the construction industry. I have colleagues who lost their jobs and friends whose salaries were decreased. Our company lost almost a third of its employees. Site offices were closed down and our office space was reduced to save rental fees. It was a total nightmare.

“Last in, first out”. I was always told that being a newcomer makes me a perfect candidate for the-next-one-to-get-dismissed. But the need for a “slave” with low pay made me survived the crisis. I wasn’t evicted and I’d love to think that I was never a part of the magic list. But this meant working so freaking hard when there’s a deadline (like being given less than 24 hours to finish a job that usually takes weeks to do so we’ll work our asses off until 5:30 in the morning or else we’ll lose the project) and never get paid; sacrificing the sacredness of weekends in the office, working from 10 AM to 9 PM (or longer); doing administrative work (formatting documents – READ: changing font style, creating organizational charts, designing headers, footers, report covers and all things that suck ’cause it’s not a part of my job description); and killing time via Facebook, Yahoo Mail/Messenger, Google, Youtube and chatting with colleagues whenever it’s downtime and we don’t have any work to do. Good thing is, all these, I had to endure with friends around. I have the best colleagues, well at least in our department. There were times when we would just literally sit and talk while having snacks for a good one to two hours (or more during Thursdays).

I finished my first visa (3 years) and shortly after renewing, when I felt the construction industry is picking up, I grabbed the opportunity to get out of the company to search for greener pastures and a more challenging job. Of course, leaving wasn’t any easy thing to do. I have friends and probably the best boss I’ll ever have. Plus, I carry the name of our company—the sound of which when heard by friends, gives them awe.

Job Hunting 101

Of course, before bidding goodbye to my old office, I have sent my curriculum vitae and portfolio to a number of good companies all over the country. Fortunately, two responded positively and I was interviewed the week after.

A few days after, I received a job offer that gave me a good reason to leave. After all, I have three and a half years of experience in the Gulf, and working for that long time, I’ve only got an increment once—a whooping 2 dirhams increase. The other company I applied for called after a week asking for my present salary to which they based their salary offer. It’s no fair so I had to decline.

Company B

Fast forward to the third week of July, I’ve been working with the new company for almost four weeks, floating in the Arabian air without any visa. This afternoon I was just told that my employment visa has been released and I have to exit the country on Friday or Saturday to change status. Oh my goodness.

Being with the new company isn’t any easy: first, I was used to a posh office—spacious work place, huge pantries with microwave oven and big fridge, multiple toilets with cubicles, airy lifts and a beautiful building; second, I was used to having down times—going to work 30 to 45 minutes late, extended lunch breaks, sleeping in the toilet, “Facebooking”; third, I was used to a lively and friendly environment—people chatting and laughing and sharing their lives. All of which is a complete opposite of my new workplace. Every time I wake up, I would feel tensed of the coming day, and I would go home so stressed and tired. 8 AM to 6 PM on Sunday to Thursday equates to sitting the whole day, working until your head explodes, standing occasionally (like 3 to 6 times on average) and pausing from time to time (for like 2 to 5 seconds) to rest.

I have to admit that I considered just finishing my probation period and go. But then again, at the end of the day, I find my work fulfilling and my day fruitful. Maybe that’s what counts, that feeling of achievement and learning every single day. Somehow, it’s something to be thankful for. Yes, I may not have the comforts Company A was providing, I couldn’t ask for anything anyway since the crisis wasn’t really over yet. I just have to make do of what I have and look on the brighter side. Thank God for work for not everyone has one.


P.S. Out of the country on the weekend. Hopefully it’s not A to A (airport to airport) so it won’t be one boring n hours of flight with nothing to see and experience.

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