Where are the world’s most competitive job markets?

Doha and Dubai attract the highest number of jobseekers applying for new roles, Resume.io report says

Abu Dhabi rounds off the top five most competitive job markets, according to a report by Resume.io. Getty
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Doha and Dubai have topped a list of the world’s most competitive job markets, recording the highest number of candidates on average applying for new roles within a week of a listing being posted on professional networking site LinkedIn, according to a report by online CV builder Resume.io.

Rounding off the top five most competitive job markets was Istanbul in Turkey, Johannesburg in South Africa and Abu Dhabi, Resume.io said in the report, which tracked job applications in February in 130 cities and every state in the US.

In Doha, the average local LinkedIn job posting receives 399 applications. The city's popularity with jobseekers was probably driven by the 2022 Fifa World Cup and no income tax, Resume.io said.

Dubai is the second-most competitive job market with an average of 282.9 applicants, followed by Istanbul with 168.3 people competing for the same role, Johannesburg with 160.2 and Abu Dhabi with 148.8.

“Back in 2018, the average job applicant was already up against fewer than 50 competitors,” Resume.io said in the report.

“Nowadays, however, with the post-pandemic Great Resignation trend still looming large in the world of work, employers have [as Forbes puts it] ‘countless candidates to choose from’.”

The Great Resignation refers to the millions of workers in advanced economies who are resigning from their jobs to seek a more flexible work-life balance and higher salaries after working remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the US alone, about 4.2 million Americans quit their jobs for better working conditions and wages in 2022, the US Bureau of Labour Statistics said in November.

In January, the International Labour Organisation said it expected global employment growth to slow to 1 per cent in 2023, down from 2 per cent last year.

The number of jobless people globally was also expected to rise by three million to 208 million this year, the ILO said in its annual World Employment and Social Outlook Trends report.

“Emerging geopolitical tensions, the Ukraine conflict, an uneven recovery from the pandemic and continuing bottlenecks in supply chains have created the conditions for a stagflationary episode, the first period of simultaneously high inflation and low growth since the 1970s,” it said in the report.

“Most countries have not yet returned to the levels of employment and hours worked seen at the end of 2019, before the outbreak of the Covid-19 health crisis.”

Meanwhile, Illinois has the most competitive job market of any US state, with 60.6 applicants per job posting within one week, while San Jose, in California, outranks all US cities with 107.6 applicants.

Better known as Silicon Valley, San Jose is home to some of the world’s biggest technology companies, including Meta Platforms, Apple, Nvidea, Google parent Alphabet and PayPal.

Global mass layoffs and hiring freezes in the technology sector resulted in more than 164,709 workers being laid off in 2022 alone, while 210,269 technology employees have lost their jobs in 2023, according to layoffs.fyi, which has been tracking technology sector job losses since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Job hunters with their hearts set on sunny San Jose might be drawn by the high average salary – but as Silicon Valley’s unofficial capital, it’s also likely that competition is so fierce because local job hunters were affected by mass tech company layoffs in late 2022,” Resume.io said.

“Industry jobs were suddenly scarce: In the San Jose metro area alone, software-related and IT job listings respectively plummeted 45 per cent and 37 per cent from before the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Despite the global economic uncertainty, the jobs market in the UAE, the second-largest Arab economy, has recovered strongly from the pandemic-induced slowdown on the back of the government’s fiscal and monetary measures.

The UAE has also undertaken several economic, legal and social reforms to strengthen its business environment, increase foreign direct investment, attract skilled workers and provide incentives to companies to set up or expand their operations.

On Monday, a survey by jobs portal Bayt.com and market research company YouGov found that 91 per cent of professionals in the UAE were optimistic about their future success in the workplace, saying they have the skills to adapt to the evolving job market over the next decade.

“It’s likely that many job hunters with Dubai in their sights have got the memo that employees here, like Doha, can take home their entire salary thanks to no income taxation,” Resume.io said.

Top 10 most competitive job markets in the world

  1. Doha, Qatar
  2. Dubai, UAE
  3. Istanbul, Turkey
  4. Johannesburg, South Africa
  5. Abu Dhabi, UAE
  6. Madrid, Spain
  7. San Jose, California
  8. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  9. San Francisco, California
  10. Tel Aviv, Israel
Updated: June 23, 2023, 7:31 AM