Incredible fussiness in a hirer's market

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Needless to say, employers now have their pick of candidates. The latest figures from recruitment firm Morgan McKinley put the number of job seekers to vacancies at 2.2:1. Front office recruiters put it a little higher than this: they say they're receiving several hundred applications for every job in the front office.

The glut of candidates is leading hirers to be incredibly pedantic about what they want. And nowhere more so than in Dubai, where urban myth has recruiters receiving thousands of new CVs a week.

"There are so many high quality candidates, that firms' expectations have gone through the roof," says Nick Careless, managing director of Dubai headhunters AP Executive. "One client recruiting for a senior private equity professional wanted someone with five languages, a degree from a top five business school, a network of government contacts, business experience in the Middle East and a minimum of five years' experience at top private equity firm."

London-based recruiters say the situation here isn't quite that extreme. On the other hand, specifications have been tightened and most attempts at hiring now involve multiple interviews with senior staff - a mistake in any one of which will lead to instant application death.

It's a buyer's market," says Logan Naidu at recruitment firm The Cornell Partnership. "Clients are being exceptionally prescriptive - if someone says they want four years' experience in an oil and gas team at a bulge bracket, with an Oxbridge education, that's precisely what they want; there's little room for negotiation."

"If you make the slightest mistake you're out," says Abid Hussein, head of EM Financial Services. "You have to perform at every single stage and you can't afford to create any doubt."

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