// Trouble getting a job? (because of name, religion, accent, etc.)
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LeylaNur
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« on: Sep 11, 2008 10:47 PM »


 salaam (thanks for the reminder in the polygyny post about giving salaams! I've been lax!)

My question here has to do with the ability (or in some cases, inability) of Muslims to procure fair employment.

Here is my personal situation:

Alhamdulillah, it has not been terribly difficult for ME to find employment. This may have to do with the fact that I am a Caucasian and American born with no obvious regional or ethnic accent. I mix in with pretty much everyone else.. I have faced visible discrimination based on my weight (which is not terribly out of control, but we all know how everyone wants to be surrounded by immaculate women!), and also received strange looks when applying for jobs in hijab  Roll Eyes but that is not the story here..

My husband has had a very difficult time even getting job interviews! This has put TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE strain on our marriage as it affects him mentally and makes him doubt his ability to prosper in this country. I do not know if it's the name on the resume (Sadik), his dark "foreigner" looks or his accent..

My husband is a well-educated young man. Under 30 years old he has his bachelor's degree from a well-respected university in Turkey (marketing & communications), came here and received his masters degree in business administration and also his master's degree in finance. He speaks fluent English (half his secondary education was completed here!), has his greencard and so is legally able to work in the U.S., is married/settled.. I would think he would be an excellent candidate for many positions!

However, when we post his resume, no one ever calls! When we do get some calls or emails asking him to call in, whenever he does, he is told (upon hearing him) that the position is filled! Sometimes only after a day of receiving the email (which was often sent at night!). This makes him very upset and I don't know what to do.

I can't believe that all employers would be so biased and judgmental! Yes, he has some accent, but upon speaking to him for even a minute you will find it much less noticeable and his command of the English language and spelling is much better than many born and raised Americans!

We are therefore left in the situation where he has to work jobs that are well below what he should be working with his professional experience and education. Currently he is making deliveries since that is the only position he is able to get. It is a very low profile job and he is somewhat ashamed of it, but it allows us to pay the bills and that in itself is commendable. I just know the stress it is putting on his mind and the stress it is putting in our marriage.

We live in a cosmopolitan (it would seem!) part of the United States in a major city.. There are other Muslim brothers here who are employed, but mostly the ones I see (the ones who choose to dress obviously Muslim) are working in their own stores or selling perfume oils outside the supermarket. The other less obvious brothers (mostly Desi) work in the IT field where I think it is more acceptable to be different. IT and engineering are a little bit more level playing fields for immigrants for some reason! Same with high level professions such as doctors..

The brothers who are successful in other fields often seem to be the "sell out" brothers with the greased back hair and faux Armani shirts plastered to their chests who go out drinking with the boss and make perverted jokes.

Please give me some advice.. I don't know what to do. We have even tried changing the name on his resume to use a more "Western" name and my surname, but then that looks deceptive.

How can I get him interviews where he can talk face to face and is sure to impress? He is a well-educated, clean, well-groomed, totally professional man with an incredible work ethic and tons to bring to the table.. I just don't think many hiring can see past this?

For real, where are the Muslim employers? The only one I have ever worked for distanced himself so far as to try and totally whitewash himself marrying a non-Muslim sister, drinking, and even when talking about his travels, saying.. "there were many beautiful synagogues and churches and many nice.. what do you call them? You know.. Muslim churches?". Grr! That made me so angry!

Please give me some advice to help his career get going and therefore for his mental health and our marriage to improve?

Jazakallah khairun for any and all responses to this thread.

Much love to my ever-helpful Madina ummah!

LeylaNur  purplehijabisis

I try to remember to count my blessings each day because I have many:

To be thankful for my health, and that of my loved ones, the presence of my husband and the continuation of our marriage, that we can pay our bills and have food on the table..

So many blessings but often, so little thanks!
LeylaNur
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« Reply #1 on: Sep 11, 2008 10:52 PM »

Sorry about that being in all italics.. I just tried to italicize some key words but the whole thing became in italics!

The other thing I wanted to clarify.. My husband does not make himself TOO different when he applies to job. He does not wear thobe and kufi or have a beard or anything like that. (sometimes he has a little beard as I like it, but usually he does not because American employers think it looks "disheveled"!) He wears professional dress shirts, pants..

Just in case anyone was confused!

I try to remember to count my blessings each day because I have many:

To be thankful for my health, and that of my loved ones, the presence of my husband and the continuation of our marriage, that we can pay our bills and have food on the table..

So many blessings but often, so little thanks!
um aboodi
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« Reply #2 on: Sep 12, 2008 02:33 AM »

wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatu Allah

I don't blame you nor your husband for your frustration.  But I think there might be many  factors at play here.  One for  sure is that the economy in US is really suffering and there are not so many job opportunities.  It is also possible that your husband's slight accent might be a hindrance if he is applying for customer support jobs where he would be expected to deal with clients in person or on the phone.  The business world is a brutal place, it is really a cut throat situation in that field.  I honestly don't think his name or looks have anything to do with it.  The employers look for qualifications , which your husband obviously has, and soft skills, such as good communication, networking abilities, initiative.

So, insha'Allah this is not something that is impossible to change.  You don't have to resort to changing names insha'Allah.  Accents can be changed through some intensive speech courses for example.  He can try to volunteer maybe once or twice a week (just for a couple of hours) at a charity or any main stream organization and this might help him in attaining more professional experience, and understanding how to deal with clients in a business setting.  He can include this on the resume. 

I think in the States, foreign work experience does not weigh much,  out of lack of appreciation for anything not American, just because the world standards are really different.  So employers are really playing it safe and hiring those with more American professional experience . 

The best thing to do is not to give up.  Keep trying and insha'Allah he will land a job.  Keep believing in him and remind him of his strenghts.  Sometimes it is not a bad idea to cast a wider net, like looking for jobs without a geographical restriction in the states or even in the middle east (UAE, Saudi, Qatar)

Don't worry about those Muslims who do everything they can to detach themselves from Islam, their strategy works only in the short run. Other people are not idiots and those so-called Muslims are only fooling themselves.  Sincerity never fails , and insincerity has a short life.

Make lots of dua, this is a blessed month and insha'Allah duas are answered and sins are forgiven. 

May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala grant you and your husband blessed provisions in this life and in the hereafter, ameen.

Wassalam
LeylaNur
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« Reply #3 on: Sep 12, 2008 09:28 PM »

Thank you for your kind reply.  Embarrassed

We really are in a time of uncertainty right now.. We may be moving next month, I am not sure.. He is thinking of going back to school AGAIN to get a master's degree in middle eastern studies/middle eastern politics. He is hoping that getting this degree from an ivy league university and the branch it is in, will make it easier for him to get a job.

I don't necessarily think he needs more education, rather that he needs EXPERIENCE, but I will support him because what can I do? Maybe he's right?

It would also give me an opportunity to go back to school and wrap up my degree, which would be great. I'd love to have that diploma on my wall and then go for my masters.

I guess we all just want to be a success and its' really taking a toll when we aren't. Inshallah everything will work out in the very near future since our marriage is in major stress right now. He's become emotionally shut off and negative about everything. Times better be 'a changin' soon!  Roll Eyes


I try to remember to count my blessings each day because I have many:

To be thankful for my health, and that of my loved ones, the presence of my husband and the continuation of our marriage, that we can pay our bills and have food on the table..

So many blessings but often, so little thanks!
Faizah
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« Reply #4 on: Sep 12, 2008 10:54 PM »

As salaamu alaikum

Okay now I go into "work mode".  If your husband meets the educational qualifications as posted for the positions he's applied for then the issue isn't lack of education.  If he meets the skill qualifications as posted for the positions he's applied for then the issue isn't lack of skills.  If the positions as posted only require the applicant to be lawfully in the US and lawfully able to work the him being a green card holder isn't the issue (if the requirement is that the applicant must be a citizen then it is different).  So if all of these critera have been met then sadly that does leave only one issue; discrimination based on national origin or race/ethnicity at a minimum and possibly religion if the potential employer is making assumptions.  As we know such discrimination is in direct violation of several federal laws rules and regulations as well as state laws rules and regulations.  Given that a complaint can be filed with the EEOC as well as the comparable state agency; there should also be an employee of the company who has the responsibility for intaking and investigating such charges internally.  I can't/won't give advice on whether to file or not file but as I said if the posted qualifications have been met yet there is the failure to become employed then there is a problem.

The US University where he obtained his Masters degrees should have a Career Services Center; has he contacted them for assistance with job opportunities?  His resume may also have to be modified.  For example while his degree from Turkey is an accomplishment not to be taken away it isn't necessary to list it since he now holds advanced degrees.  It is important to remove all references to certain things; it's not lying but making sure that the resume is viewed and judged solely on content of education and skills and not anything else.  My resume doesn't give a clue as to my gender - not through my name nor through any organizations I belong to nor does it give a clue to my religion (I'm part of CAIR but I identify my activities as "part of a nationally recognized Civil Rights organization" and highlight the leadership and outreach/teaching skills that have been gained as a result.

Sadly despite all the laws prohibiting discrimination some employers still manage to do so and get away with it because individuals don't bother to pursue the matter and call them to task.  Naturally I understand why but without putting it out there the practice only continues and individuals suffer as a result.  Even I who works in diversity and affirmative action/equal employment opportunity have had to "call people out" for what they attempt to do (no wonder some people run when they see me coming - a Muslimah with knowledge and some authority - yikes!!! - I am not the "rebel in hijab"  Smiley   )

Fa'izah
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« Reply #5 on: Sep 12, 2008 11:17 PM »

Dear Sr. Leylanur.
I am sorry about your difficulties. At the moment globaly things are not easy employment wise let alone the prejudices that abound...It is very hard when someone has to work at a level below their ability...If your finances permit, go ahead both of you and study some more. Knowledge is never too much to carry...
What about your husband choosing a subject that would lead directly to a career., something more vocational...Is there any way he could for example teach English part time or coach in a subject he is good at...
This will  naturally place a strain on your marriage, but it will pass..Hard times come and we feel it will last forever, but don't lose hope....Insha Allah a door will open...
You and your husband are in my duah...Try to be strong and while we do have to have a structure and plan don't think too far ahead..Look after your health, without health one can do very little....
Salaams.
JJ
LeylaNur
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Remembrance of Allah is the true source of peace..


« Reply #6 on: Sep 13, 2008 04:38 AM »

Aww! Hugs to everyone!

Thanks so much for your replies..

That's actually quite a good idea to remove any references to Turkey from his resume.. I hadn't thought of that. I thought the more information, the better, but I guess not!

It's also quite good advice to do some volunteering. I myself, have recently volunteered to put in some time at the CAIR office in PA and maybe my husband can do some volunteer office work there as well to add to his resume under the heading of "nationally recognized civil rights organization"..

You all are quite clever clogs! Thanks for the advice and support!

Sisterly love all around!

~ LeylaNur  purplehijabisis

I try to remember to count my blessings each day because I have many:

To be thankful for my health, and that of my loved ones, the presence of my husband and the continuation of our marriage, that we can pay our bills and have food on the table..

So many blessings but often, so little thanks!
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