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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?

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    @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, 2014 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, 2014 at 17:20
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    Have you considered having your wife move in with you to your country?
    – BeyondSora
    Apr 21, 2014 at 17:50
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    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. Apr 22, 2014 at 16:46
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    In terms of bias prior to the interview process, there would be two details worth mentioning; 1) what country will people assume you are from based on your name? 2) what country did you take your qualifications in? And also, would you take a job for the time being with someone who was a bit bigoted, or would you actually rather look for longer to find a better employer?
    – Clumsy cat
    Jan 25 at 11:36

3 Answers 3

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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.

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    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, 2014 at 18:20
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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 mention where you live now and which country you are from but explore other options if possible.

  2. Expand your 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.

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    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, 2016 at 13:06
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    This answer has 4 points of great advice, then one terrible one. On point 5, anticipating problems is a great advantage in tackling them. Yes, OP could face discrimination anywhere in the world, but it's much more likely in some places. So if OP is going somewhere that it is more likely, then it's entirely sensible of them to have a think about it now. They aren't saying "woe is me" they are looking for practical steps to mitigate problems.
    – Clumsy cat
    Jan 25 at 11:23
  • @Clumsycat - I have removed that part in item 5 as it was just a personal anecdote and not useful advice in the context of the question. Jan 26 at 20:34
  • I recommend option 3. I've seen good results for people in Eastern Europe through personal connections, though admittedly none facing direct discrimination. Don't give up, though, I know a bunch of really nice people from that area of the world. They do exist and I'm optimistic you can find some of them if you keep looking
    – bytepusher
    Jan 27 at 23:32
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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 affect immigrants.

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

The latter is that your experience/qualifications may not be accepted as 'good enough'. This may not be the case in your particular situation, but it's definitely worth bearing in mind. To counter this, consider membership of professional societies and/or having professional qualifications that are respected in that country may help. Also, consider networking with people from that country first - perhaps through 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.

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    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. Apr 22, 2014 at 17:15
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    @Chad, you don't see the "to counter this..." part of the third paragraph as an answer? Apr 24, 2014 at 1:49
  • @Chad - I'm confused as why you don't think this helps? Apr 28, 2014 at 0:08
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    This is a great answer, that tackles a subtle problem. People can be mistrustful over qualifications issued in countries they don't respect. However, I suspect that the OP is actually British or American, just from the context. In which case they are unlikely to meet this issue.
    – Clumsy cat
    Jan 25 at 11:30

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