DUBAI // Many jobseekers in the UAE miss out on opportunities because they know little of the country’s laws or its cultural and professional environment, the founder of a support group says.

Imran Hilal Khan, who runs Helping Hands, said: “They don’t realise that the UAE is a competitive market where people come from all over the world to build careers. Only the fittest win the race and they need support to achieve their dreams.”

Mr Khan, a sales professional at a multinational company in Dubai, started the volunteer group four years ago. Today, along with a group of fellow Pakistani professionals, he provides counselling and training to about 200 people every Friday at a mosque between noon and afternoon prayers.

Helping Hands advises on basic skills such as improving CVs, communication and preparing for interviews.

Mr Khan said many people have no idea about the UAE job market and face a tough time.

He estimated that at least 300 to 400 people have managed to secure jobs because of Helping Hands’ support.

The group does not charge any fees and, according to Mr Khan, its sole purpose is to help those who are at a crossroads in their lives and careers.

“I am not doing anything extraordinary. Me and my friends faced the same situation and this is the time to pay back. I am just paying back all the good deeds that people showered upon me during my days of struggle,” said Mr Khan, 35, who has been working in Dubai for seven years.

Mr Khan, who studied in Melbourne, Australia, recalled two incidents that reshaped his thoughts towards services to others.

“It all started when a Pakistani couple helped me find a job during studies to take care of my expenses,” he said.

“Also, there was an elderly Australian lady who helped me. When I tried to return the favour she said, ‘What I did for you, do it to others’. Since then, this has become my life mantra.

“Our doors are open for everyone, regardless of nationality and work profile. We help unskilled workers as well as highly qualified individuals find the right job.”

Khalid Mughal, 45, who recently got a government job in Abu Dhabi after visiting Helping Hands, said: “I came to Dubai with a dream of finding a good job but things were not the way I expected.

“Finding the right job that suits your qualification in a world-class professional working environment is not easy.

“Over here, once you enter a job market, where best brains from all over the world are present, you have to be just perfect and nothing else. And this is where support groups like Helping Hand bridges the gap.”

Mr Mughal hails from Karachi and is a charted accountant. He attended Helping Hands seminars every Friday and said that finding a job in the UAE can be a nerve-wrecking experience for a jobseeker.

“We not only had to search for jobs but also find means to survive with limited resources. Helping Hands helped me by all means. I will never forget their support,” he said.

Mohammed Hafeez ur Rehman, 30, from Bangladesh, said that anyone who wants to find a job in Dubai should improve their communication skills.

“We don’t realise that this is an international market where communication skills make an important impact,” said Mr Rehman, who came to the UAE from Dhaka in 2011 to look for work.

He said that despite having a degree in computer studies, he was so desperate that he was prepared to work as a blue-collar worker.

“I had so many financial liabilities back home that I was open to all kinds of jobs,” Mr Rehman said, who is now a supervisor at an ice-cream parlour in the UAE.

“But Helping Hands guided me to use my education and my skills for a better future. They made me focus on my job hunt and, in three months, I was able to get a decent job.”