Lessons From a Four-Month Job Hunt as a Mum of Two!

May 14, 2024 thehrobserver-hrobserver-jobseeking

A few months ago I successfully returned to work after an extended maternity leave and a four-month job hunt.

Following a near-burnout experience going back to work after my first child, which eventually led to a conflicted resignation, this time I was determined to secure a job that not only resonated with me but also accommodated my responsibilities as a mother. 

While I am not a recruitment expert and my job search wasn’t exactly straightforward, I eventually found the job I was looking for.

Here is what I learned during my job hunt, insights I wish I had been given from the onset, to ease my worries, maintain perspective, and be a more strategic jobseeker.

Understand the job market

Recruiters, HR experts, and job seekers all seem to agree on one thing – the current job market in the UAE is fiercely competitive. 

Dubai’s flourishing economy has created a plethora of enticing opportunities for professionals both locally and internationally. The market has recently become saturated with candidates, partly because of the influx of experienced talent moving to the region in search of better opportunities. Consequently, employers in the UAE are increasingly spoilt for choice.

To navigate this landscape effectively, you need to do your research well, understand the market dynamics, and use them to your advantage. Staying updated on industry news, speaking to Dubai-based recruiters and HR experts, finding recruitment market guides specific to my industry (marketing & communications), and researching salary benchmarks for my desired role were all great ways to gain a deeper understanding of the job market.

Have a strategy in place

Once you have collected enough information and have a clearer view, take the time to develop a strategy for your job hunt. 

This doesn’t have to be a lengthy or overwhelming task. Simply jot down your main objectives and the key steps needed to achieve them. Having a strategy will make it easier to see the path ahead and avoid mindlessly sending out dozens of applications for roles that don’t align with your goals.

The questions that I found most revealing were – what are my key strengths? Where can I add the most value? What are my non-negotiables? What kind of environment am I looking for? Knowing your strengths and your priorities was also key to identifying the employers who are likely to value profiles like yours. 

As a mother of two under four, my top priority was finding a role that offered flexibility. Once I realised this, I naturally started focusing on companies offering hybrid or flexible working arrangements. By aligning my strategy with my priorities, I was able to tailor my applications and interactions more effectively toward my goals.

Ironically, I now work for an organisation, the British Chamber of Commerce Dubai (BCCD), that is actively engaged in facilitating return to work for working mums through various networks and initiatives. These include talent fair events specifically designed to connect experienced professionals, particularly mothers returning to work, with employers who offer flexible arrangements and are conscious of the needs of working parents.

Build your brand

While it may seem cliché, it’s undeniably crucial. In a competitive job market, a well-crafted personal brand not only lends credibility but also distinguishes you from the crowd. Beyond just a polished CV, platforms like LinkedIn are invaluable tools in today’s digitalised recruitment world.

Your CV and your LinkedIn profile should complement each other. Make sure you invest time and thought in crafting, aligning, and optimising both by showcasing your experience, highlighting your achievements, and including keywords from the job descriptions of the roles you’re applying for.

I was aware of the wonders of LinkedIn for job seekers, but during my job hunt, I quickly realized that things had changed significantly while I was busy changing nappies and preparing baby food. LinkedIn has emerged as a vital hub for content sharing. After fully updating and optimising your profile, I took it a step further by using it to showcase my expertise and content.

Posting regularly on LinkedIn was a game-changer for me as it allowed me to become much more visible, share my insights and skills, such as copywriting, and build valuable connections – which takes me to my next point.

Work your network, both in-person and online!

After about two months of diligently sending applications without much response, I hit a roadblock. Something wasn’t working and I needed to reassess my strategy. Why wasn’t I hearing back from anyone?

Then, one day, I spotted a job opening in a company a friend of mine worked at. I reached out to him, asking if he could put a good word for me to the hiring manager. That’s how I landed my very first interview…through a connection. And so it dawned on me – it wasn’t about what I knew, but who I knew. 

In the UAE, as in many other parts of the world, your network can take you much further than online applications. It can be tremendously helpful to let your friends and contacts know about job hunting as they will naturally want to help you and support you. 

Equally, joining a networking group could also be highly beneficial. Dubai is currently awash with professional networking groups, each offering different platforms to expand your connections. High-quality business networking events are also a crucial part of our proposition at the British Chamber of Commerce Dubai.

I know networking can feel daunting and it’s not always easy to reveal you’re looking for a job, but you’ll be surprised how understanding and genuinely supportive strangers can be, especially fellow working mothers who understand the difficulties of finding a new job after a long maternity leave.

People find it hard to believe I found my current job by posting on the British Mums Dubai group on Facebook, but it’s true, and I’m so grateful I reached out to that community.

Patience, patience, patience

As a notoriously impatient person, I found this aspect particularly challenging. Unlike previous job searches where opportunities seemed to materialize effortlessly, progress was noticeably slower this time around.

The reality is, that you’re never the only person or mum looking for a job at any point in time, and it’s perfectly normal for your search to take some time, even more than six months depending on your industry and seniority. Additionally, recruitment processes in the UAE can generally be quite slow and inefficient, particularly in larger companies. 

It’s also no secret that most open roles are not publicly advertised – which is why networking and talking to the right people is even more important!

Gaining perspective on these points helped me be kinder to myself, trust the process, and cope with the inevitable setbacks of looking for a job. Weeks and months went by without any traction, and then one day I received three important calls within an hour! 


There is no way around it – job hunting is rough. Add to that a very competitive job market and the classic struggles of being a mum trying to return to work after a long career break, and the whole process can soon feel very dispiriting. However, I’m living proof that mothers can and should aspire to find fulfilling, flexible work.

Being aware of the evolving job market, crafting a strong strategy based on your objectives, building a compelling personal brand, and networking both online and offline can be very effective ways to navigate your job search.

Sending all the positive vibes and energy to all the wonderful mums out there currently on the hunt…you will get there!

Giulia Cibotti

Communications & Growth, British Chamber of Commerce Dubai (BCCD)

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