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The backstory

I'm a mid-senior level UX designer. I moved to an Eastern-European Schengen country from South-East Asia six months ago because I'm married to an EU citizen. My resident permit lets me work here without extra permission, and in most Schengen countries, I can also work if I get a resident permit for those countries because I'm a family member of an EU citizen. I was asked to leave my old job because of the move, as my employer couldn't hire from abroad.

Okay, so what’s the problem?

  1. For five months, I've been applying to different companies here and in nearby Schengen countries.
  2. I apply to jobs advertised in English, which ask for English as the main language.
  3. I'm actually good at my job and meet all requirements, and my job is also in demand. I used to get a lot of interest on LinkedIn before.
  4. Every application now gets rejected swiftly. The record time was 6 hours. In five months, I've been rejected from all the jobs I applied for. I only had 3 phone interviews, but they also dropped it when I said I didn't need a work permit. They asked me about my work permit, I told them I do not need one (I even sent official links to a few to support my claim), and they got very confused and dropped the application. This does not make any sense.
  5. Each rejection says the same thing: "Although you're a good fit, it is the little nuances that made us choose another candidate." Or, "We're sorry, but we had to consider a better-suited candidate." These can't be true because the jobs were still open when I got rejected. They must not really read my applications, or they wouldn't decide in six hours. I know this because I track my portfolio views with Google Analytics, and no one visits, literally. Nobody asks about skills or experience either at this point.
  6. Fridays are the worst – I get most rejections on Fridays, sometimes many in one day, like they're rushing to bin my application before the weekend.

More Info

I replied to 2 rejection email asking clarification whether they had any doubt regarding my residency or work authorisation status. One said it was “the little nuances”, the other said “not your residency or work authorisation status but someone else was a better fit”. Strangely, these positions are still vacant. Ironically, a lot of my country-folks are employed all over Europe because mostly they studied in Europe or got transferred internally in their companies. It is sad, because I am sure of my skills and I know I could be a valued employee for the companies who are rejecting.

Things I tried

Remote jobs, Updated portfolio website, updated resume, country specific resume formats, professional email address, personalised cover letter, unsolicited application, settling for minimum wage, connecting with recruiters on LinkedIn, upfront telling that I don’t need work permit on the cover letter — you name it, I have probably done it.

I did have my cv analysed by recruiter here and she said it is very good and suggested some small changes. Which I applied and nothing improved.

The freelancing option

I looked it up. The country where I am currently, has some stringent laws and extremely high taxes for freelancing to the point that it is rendered an unprofitable business.

The Question

I tried applying to more modern and progressive Central and Western European countries, but got back the same response. I'm not sure if it's because of my name (it's not strange, just foreign) or my ethnicity. Feels like shadow-banning. How can I make my chances of getting a job better? Also, please suggest if any other approach or anything. I also would love to know if I am doing anything not correctly. Thank you.

PS. I am not blaming anyone and I do understand that is how it is. But what I can do to put forth my values beyond whatever biases they are having?

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    The only suggestion I have is to work with a placement coach to figure out what "those little things" might be and fix them... and to accept that no matter what they are telling you, hiring someone from outside the country does cost a company more, and many folks are subject to basises they may not even be aware of, and if they have a local candidate they like almost as much you're likely to lose.
    – keshlam
    Aug 18, 2023 at 14:11
  • @keshlam I sensed this bias factor, yes. But I still don't understand why recruiters backed out hearing my work authorisation status. Isn't it rather less hassle for them if I don't need one? Can you please clarify what you meant by "from outside"? I applied to jobs which are in my current location and neighbouring EU countries and I did clarify to them that I am able and willing to relocate at my own cost. Only thing outside is my origin.
    – X5010
    Aug 18, 2023 at 14:18
  • I don't understand, what sort of bias you think is happening? Unless you put some werid country of residence on your CV (aka other than the shengen country you are in now), how would anyone know where you are now, or that you may even need a permit? I am quite sure it's not name-based. And btw rejections on friday are kinda standard, better than making someone sweat through the weekend.
    – Aida Paul
    Aug 18, 2023 at 15:05
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    I think you are jumping to an easy conclusion with no data to back it as you cannot know what they did, or did not look at. I have non asian name and when I went job hunting I got almost as many rejections as applications, so what should I be blaming? It's just how job hunting goes. Most companies are not going to reject a great/good candidate just because of their origin, it is a stupid and non pragmatic practice, if wrong is not enough. So there's something in your cv/cover letter/jobs you pick that leads to the high rejection rate. Maybe reach out to some recruiters for help.
    – Aida Paul
    Aug 18, 2023 at 15:24
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    Or they are browsing it with an adblock/incognito browser, which is what I default to when screening candidates. If the cv reads right, then maybe you are applying to the wrong/unrelated jobs? Honestly this isn't really place we can help as that's super generic what you are asking, but maybe drop your resume by the chat, some jobs you applied to, see if we can see what's wrong.
    – Aida Paul
    Aug 18, 2023 at 15:40

1 Answer 1

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A very simple - but at the same time labor-intensive - response to your question about increasing your chances of getting a job in Europe: speak the local language!

Apart from the UK, in most European countries, the languages spoken are national languages (other than English). If you really want to increase your chances of getting a job, learn the language of your target country.

You may think that English is a universal passport. It's true that it will enable you to communicate anywhere in Europe. But if you're going to work, even in a high value-added sector with well-qualified people, the best way to collaborate effectively and integrate quickly is to speak the local language.

If you speak the language of the country, a company will be much more willing to make the necessary efforts and formalities to organize a work permit.

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    This is so true. There a tons of students in my town that never learn any German. When they go onto the job market they have a really hard time because in 90% of all companies (especially small and medium size) the working language is still German and even when it is not it is still a big advantage to be able to speak the language in coffee breaks. Don't worry you don't need to speak the language perfect. Just practice and try to speak the local language in informal settings and when people want to switch to English politely ask them to speak their language so that you can practice.
    – seg
    Sep 17, 2023 at 13:37

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