Finding a job as a software developer in Saudi Arabia can be tough.
There are a lot of great opportunities, but they’re often hard to find. Especially for developers searching for their first job in Saudi Arabia. Lack of online resources makes separating the good tech companies from the less desirable ones a challenge.
It’s not that there are no resources available. In fact, there’s a myriad of Saudi Arabia focused job boards and recruitment agencies out there. The problem is that the data you actually want can rarely be found online at all.
In places like the US software engineering has become one of the most popular careers, but this isn’t the case in Saudi Arabia. Many companies see programming as something that’s not worth investing in.
However, as Saudi Arabia’s internet tech industry matures, more and more companies are seeing the value of software development and things have improved rapidly in the last 5-10 years. The industry has reached a point where there’s a critical mass of good software jobs for foreigners that want to work here.
So the question is: how do you find the good Software Engineering jobs in Saudi Arabia? In this post, we’ll explore this question and offer some resources and advice for software developers who search for job in Saudi Arabia.
First things first: Educate yourself
If you want to find a software job in Saudi Arabia (that’s actually good), the first step is research. In order to thrive as a developer here, it’s crucial for you to understand what kind of job you want. You’ll then need to determine which tech companies in Saudi Arabia are actually willing to hire foreign engineers for that position, and most importantly, which ones can actually provide the type of environment you expect.
Everyone has their own criteria, so you should decide yours and then research which companies meet them. Whether you’re looking for an English-speaking environment, remote work or visa sponsorship, you should be able to come up with a list of tech companies in Saudi Arabia that fulfill your requirements.
Pro tip: Know what kind of job you want, and spend time researching the best companies offering those jobs. Don’t set yourself up for failure by assuming you’ll be happy with any job as long as you’re in Saudi Arabia.
Resources for Software Engineers
Here are a few more hand-picked resources that you can use to improve your understanding of the programming jobs available to you:
GulfTechJobs – We offer the most exhaustive list of top tech companies hiring developers in Saudi Arabia
LinkedIn – Many top companies in Saudi Arabia advertise software jobs here. LinkedIn also recommends companies based on the info in your profile, which is useful.
Pro tip: Set your LinkedIn location to Saudi Arabia even if you’re not here yet. You’ll get more interest from recruiters.
General-purpose Saudi Arabia job boards
There are tons of other more generalized job boards, but they can be overwhelming as they post all kinds of jobs.
In general, the more you educate yourself at this stage, the better off you’ll be when you’re talking to recruiters and actually meeting with companies. So definitely take the time to vet companies and gather as much information as you can.
Utilizing developer events
Once you’re confident that a given company is a good fit, applying directly through one of those sites can be a good option. But this should not be your only plan of attack. If you’re in Saudi Arabia already, then events are invaluable for finding jobs. It’s a well-known fact that many of the best jobs will never be posted online, and this definitely holds true in the Saudi Arabia developer community.
There’s just no replacement for physically coming to Saudi Arabia and meeting people in person. You can get the latest information from fellow software developers already working in Saudi Arabia, and they’ll be much more likely to refer you to their company if they have a chance to meet you first.
Tech Meetups in Saudi Arabia – This link showcases most of the upcoming tech-related meetups in Riyadh. You can change the location to other places in Saudi Arabia to find out the latest tech events.
Google Developer Group (GDG) Saudi Arabia – The first GDG in the Gulf. Started in 2010. This group mainly aims to spread technology and knowledge to the community and help the build awesome products using the best tools out there. Meetups are conducted often. The purpose of the meeting is for developers to share knowledge and expertise in technology.
10 Times – 10 Times is the world’s largest business event platform. You can find all upcoming events, business conferences, trade shows, global seminars, networking meets and workshops.
Azure Tech Groups – Azure Community Provides a forum for IT professionals to discuss and share expertise in understanding the cloud technologies available through Microsoft Azure platform.
Events Always – Events Always brings the list of Event, Exhibitions, Conferences to attend in Saudi Arabia.
Finding someone to vouch for you
Companies in Saudi Arabia love referrals. A lot of companies here get 50%+ of their employees from employee referrals because it’s a win-win for the company and the employee. Even if the company has to pay a fee to the employee, it’s usually much less than what they would’ve paid to a job board or recruiter. With a referral, the employee gets money and the company gets to reward one of its members and create some goodwill in them toward the company. This means that many companies’ employees want to find people looking to work with them and are even financially incentivized to do so.
In other words, the more people you can talk to at your target companies, the better your chances will be of landing a development position with them. And referrals are one of the best ways to make connections with many companies.
Recruitment agencies in Saudi Arabia
Recruitment agencies can be a valuable tool for finding software engineering jobs in Saudi Arabia.
When an organization is looking to hire a new employee, they often instruct a recruitment company to find the right person for them. A recruitment agency in Riyadh will typically charge a fee of between 15-25% of the successful candidate’s annual salary.
It’s important that you understand this, because it means that whatever recruiter you work with is not actually working for you, they are working for the organisation that has instructed them to fill the role.
In fact, this is one of the most popular ways to find jobs here. However, it’s important to understand how recruiting in Saudi Arabia works before enlisting their help. We would also advise against using recruiters as your only avenue when searching for jobs.
The thing about recruiters is that each recruiter only works with a subset of companies. Recruiting firms have contracts with specific partner companies, and those are the ones they’ll introduce you to. Thus, it’s usually a good idea to at least talk to a few different recruiters to get as wide of a view as possible of the jobs available to you before signing a contract.
Good recruiters will be honest with you about your options and not try to push you toward a company unless it’s a genuinely good fit, but you do need to be a little careful. As mentioned above, recruiters have a massive financial incentive to convince you to join one of their companies. This is why you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket and make sure you talk to several different ones.
When working with recruiters, always do your own research and only agree to deals that are mutually beneficial for you from a business standpoint. And make sure you arm yourself with knowledge so you can avoid falling for sales tactics.
Do I need to speak Arabic?
No, but the more Arabic you speak, the easier finding a programming job in Saudi Arabia will be. The number of software development opportunities available to you will correlate directly to your Arabic level. As your skills improve, doors will open. However, this doesn’t mean you’re totally sunk if you don’t speak any Arabic. It just means that you’ll need to compensate by being stronger in another area.
The only thing that actually matters after the resume screening stage is your communication during the interviews themselves. At the end of the day, companies have requirements, and either you fulfill them or you don’t.
Do I need to move to Saudi Arabia?
This really depends. Being in Riyadh(as opposed to somewhere else in Saudi Arabia) increases the chances of finding a fulfilling job as a development job by magnitudes. Which is not to say that there are no good jobs elsewhere. There are tech companies throughout Saudi Arabia, it’s just that the vast majority of foreigner-friendly ones are in Riyadh.
Outside of Riyadh, salaries will also usually be lower, even relative to the lower cost of living.
So it’s up to you. Being in Riyadh will make it a lot easier to progress in your career, but it’s at least worth searching elsewhere for those who don’t want to (or can’t) move to here.
Tips to get a Software Engineering job in Saudi Arabia
Here are some tips to land a Software Engineering job in Saudi Arabia.
1. Start by creating a strong resume that highlights your skills and experience. Include any relevant coursework or projects you have completed, as well as any relevant work experience. If you don’t have much work experience, include any volunteer work or internships you have done. Be sure to proofread your resume and have someone else look at it as well before you submit it anywhere.
2. Network, network, network! Get connected with as many people in the industry as possible. Attend meetups and conferences, join online forums and discussion groups, and reach out to people you know who work in the field. The more connections you make, the more likely you are to hear about job opportunities.
3. Stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies. Employers will be impressed if you can show that you’re keeping up with the latest advancements in the field. Subscribe to industry news sources, read blog posts and articles, and follow thought leaders on social media.
4. Showcase your skills and experience with a personal website or blog. This is a great way to show potential employers what you know and what you can do. Include links to any projects you have worked on, and be sure to keep your site updated with your latest skills and experience.
5. Get involved in open-source projects. Contributing to open-source projects is a great way to show off your skills and get noticed by potential employers. It’s also a great way to give back to the community and make friends in the industry.
6. Keep learning! The software development field is always changing, so it’s important to keep learning new things even after you’ve landed your first job. Take courses, read books and articles, experiment with new technologies, and never stop learning!
Lastly: Try to stay realistic
Pretty much any semi-skilled, English-speaking software engineer who wants a job in Saudi Arabia could probably find one if they just search. It’s crucial that you do your own research and find a company that you can genuinely see yourself working for.
A lot of people dream about living in Saudi Arabia, and some of them get so focused on that dream that they forget to do their due diligence and end up in jobs they don’t really want. Working in Saudi Arabia can be an amazing experience, but the novelty of being here will wear off, and when it does you need to make sure you’re in an environment where you’ll be okay with that. Being in Saudi Arabia doesn’t remove the need to keep moving forward in your career and learning new skills.
You can also check our guide on software developer’s salary in Saudi Arabia. This will help you to get a realistic view of salary in Saudi Arabia.
Knowledge is power when it comes to working in IT in Saudi Arabia. If you do your research and don’t compromise until you find somewhere you can thrive, you’ll likely have an amazing time in Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, if you exhaust all of the progressive, foreigner-friendly companies and still can’t find a position, consider putting your move to Saudi Arabia off and spending some time improving your tech skills. Saudi Arabia’s not going anywhere, and if you really want to end up here, you will.
The best litmus test when deciding whether to accept a tech job in Saudi Arabia is this: Would you be genuinely excited about this job even if it weren’t in Saudi Arabia?
If the answer is yes, then go for it!.