11

I am planning, within the next 12 months, to move in with my wife in her country (Central-Eastern Europe), and thus I would need to start looking for a role there. I am aware that in their end of the world, there are no precise policies about discrimination like in the West. I am also aware that there is no factual protection against racism - partly I guess because immigration has never been as rampant as in the West - but that most people of color currently living there are not exactly successful there.

Now, I have already failed to find any jobs so far within my own function (finance IT). On one occasion, I was even offered to work as an intern/assistant, but I had to pay for the role!

I am hoping to find better opportunities in a function where it may not matter that much what color I am. I speak my wife's language to a good degree of fluency and have spent several holidays in the country, but everyone tells me it's nearly impossible for someone with dark skin to make a good career there.

How should I approach the job search in a country where I might face discrimination and there is no formal (nor informal) protection against that?

  • 5
    @gnat I really don't think this counts as a personal dilemma. There might not be a purely correct answer, but it is more because the OP has little control of the situation, not because it boils down to personal preference. I think that people will be able to offer advice on ways to ease the job search, even if they are not outright solutions. – David K Apr 21 '14 at 16:53
  • Sorry to hear about this, but think of it this way, you only need one person who is willing to hire you. Look long and hard. Volunteer when you can. Someone will ignore the stereotypes in order to get a quality employee. – user8365 Apr 21 '14 at 17:20
  • 1
    Have you considered having your wife move in with you to your country? – BeyondSora Apr 21 '14 at 17:50
  • 3
    I don't think this is a personal-dilemma question either, any more than questions about workspace accommodations for disabilities are (and we have some of those). Racism is a significant issue in some places and I think it's valuable to have a question that addresses it. Of course, answers need to back up what they say, not just offer discussion. – Monica Cellio Apr 22 '14 at 16:46
10

Don't volunteer information that you fear may give them a basis for discrimination until you have to. For example, don't include participation in organizations that reveal things like your skin color, religion, etc. on your resume. If you fill out applications, choose to not fill out any kind of demographic information if that's at all an option. By not volunteering this information, you're ensuring that they look at your skill set and not your skin color.

Be persistent and keep your standards. You probably don't want to work for someone who is discriminating against you, anyway, so if you can avoid it, then avoid those companies. It will likely take some time, but don't get too discouraged. You'll find those gems who will appreciate what you have to offer, it might just take some digging.

Look beyond the big job boards. Don't underestimate the value of the little boards, like Craigslist. Many of the best companies don't advertise on the big boards like Monster.com. Also see if there are any recruiters that serve your area. Most recruiters get paid by the companies looking to hire, so keep that in mind and try to avoid the ones that make you pay (especially if they want payment up front or something), but if you can find one or two good recruiters that get you results, keep them in your network.

Consider working remotely, possibly for someone outside of that country. Finance IT sounds like a job that may not require you to be on the site for (or you may have a skill set that is transferable to a remote-capable position). If that is the case, then see if you can find someone to work for that is willing to hire you. Then petty things like skin color won't matter at all. This has the added bonus of potentially landing a job for a company with higher pay ranges and/or an exchange rate that works in your favor, giving you an above-average income for the cost of living in the country in which you live.

Go solo. Perhaps you can become a consultant, or otherwise just work for yourself. A typical job isn't the only path to financial security, and many IT fields lend themselves well to consultant work. Any other skills you have can be marketable, too (and can be an avenue to valuable connections for your primary skill set), so don't discount your ability to, say, paint a building or room.

  • 4
    I would add to this, start networking: Find multicultural organizations that can share their knowledge with you. They may be able to suggest companies that are very diversity-friendly and will know what laws are applicable in your location. – David K Apr 21 '14 at 18:20
2

I am from Eastern Europe myself and moved to UK 12 years ago. Here are my suggestions:

1) Reconsider moving to your wife's country. You didn't mentioned where you live now and which country you are from but explore other options if possible.

2) Expand you job search. Finance IT is too specific, you are not familiar with the finance system/rules in this country. The financial institutions usually require security checks, which might be difficult if the potential employee is not a citizen of that country. It is quite possible that many financial organizations wouldn't even consider a foreign citizen. So look in other IT fields.

3) I suppose your wife has a family there. They have other relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Ask them to do some networking.

4) The job application process there is likely to differ from what you are used to. Do your research. You speak the language - go to the forums, where people from that country discuss relevant problems.

5) You may face discrimination anywhere in the world despite any formal protection. What I don't like in your post is it seems you are already seeing yourself as a potential victim of discrimination. Who are these people that are telling you "it's nearly impossible for someone with dark skin to make a good career there"? In my country I had a colleague from Ethiopia whose career was better than mine.

  • 3
    I am from Eastern Europe and I positively absolutely can guarantee that if OP is a person of color he WILL face discrimination but unlike in Western Europe countries will not have even informal protection but will be probably laughed at and considered week if he dares to complain. – JJ_Jason Jul 1 '16 at 13:06
0

I'm not disputing your claim that you will likely find racism. It can exist in even the most tolerant of societies. However experience has shown me that there are at least two kinds of bigotry that can sometimes affect immigrants.

The first may well be overt/covert skin/nationality based racism such skin colour or national history. @shauna's answer has some excellent points about this.

The latter I find is that your experience/qualifications may not be accepted as 'good enough'. I doubt this may be the case in your situation, but it's worth bearing in mind. To counter this you should perhaps consider that being a member of professional societies and/or having professional qualifications that are respected in that country may well help. Also consider networking with pople from that country first - perhaps though international conferences and or internet fora where you can meet people in a strong business context first. For example I would consider starting with LinkedIn.

In the end you have to work harder to prove yourself. And you may have to set the groundwork now by increasing your reputation within your working network while you are still in your original country.

  • 2
    This does not really answer the question of how to approach finding a job in the face of the racism that this answer appears to acknowledge does exist. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 22 '14 at 17:15
  • 2
    @Chad, you don't see the "to counter this..." part of the third paragraph as an answer? – Monica Cellio Apr 24 '14 at 1:49
  • @Chad - I'm confused as why you don't think this helps? – Preet Sangha Apr 28 '14 at 0:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.