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Bismillah

My husband and I spend many hours a day looking for and applying to engineering jobs for him. Linkedin, Indeed, Glassdoor, etc. It's very exhausting. All we have had so far are rejections--silent and written. 

I'm trying to figure out what is such a turn off about the applications. My guess is because he has a "gap" in his resume and work history that looks kind of ugly. So I am looking for some advice on how to make his resume and cover letter look as appealing as possible despite what he has going against him.

So here's the back story. He graduated with his Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering December 2014. After that he was not able to work because he did not have a US work permit (he was on a student visa). So he spent the next 2 years trying to obtain his work permit, which was a long and expensive process. In the meantime he was working menial, less than minimum wage jobs (because he was basically working illegally). 

Alhamdulillah in November 2016 he got his work permit and we started looking for jobs, applying all over the US. Most jobs want some kind of prior post graduation experience understandably. But even the entry level jobs that call for 0 years experience reject him. We try to explain everything in the cover letter but it doesn't seem to help. 

-Is it because jobs have a bias against immigrants? 

-Is it because they are put off by him working "low level" jobs? Should we take them off completely? 

-Do we just need to improve the resume and cover letter? (If you think you can look them over and help with this please let me know) 

-Or is it just really difficult to land a job and we should be patient? 

He is thinking he should just go back and get his master's, but I'm not sure that would help because his real world experience would still be zero.

Help?

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It's difficult to find any entry level professional jobs, especially with a gap in work history.

I don't think it's mandatory for electrical engineers, but has he taken the FE exam? If not, he should consider doing that so he has a more current qualification. 

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Probably your husband needs to leave that gap in his resume, because working anywhere (without the work permit) might be seen as illegal activity. In the gap area, mention other things that he has done, such as volunteering, writing and/or speaking, studying, care-giving for a sick or disabled relative, traveling, whatever he was doing that was not working.

During the interview, if asked about the gap in employment, mention he had no idea that getting a work permit would take so long, however, he had to wait patiently to get it and he's ready (eager) to go to work right away.

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54 minutes ago, ireallywannaknow said:

My husband and I spend many hours a day looking for and applying to engineering jobs for him.

In addition to above replies

Recite sura Al Waqia after isha prayer and send a gift of sura yasin daily to the beloved master daily in morning. I mean to the master of time a.s

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Job report for the month of December was not good. If you only started applying in November, then don't feel disappointed. Even for people with experience, it takes a couple of months to find a job. Also, many people go on holidays during December, so hiring is slow. Most jobs open during April, May. You will have a better chance of finding job during summer. Also, the suggestion to get professional help for resume is good. 

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Salam aleykum,

Have you guys tried to apply for trainee positions? Its a good way to get a step into the working world.

I dont know exactly how things work in the US, but does your husband call up every place he applies to? Like call and say something like: Hello, my name is suck and suck, I applied for that and that position and I was just wondering how the recruitment process is going? 

And then ask questions of interest, like asking more about the actual job.

Its all about showing that you really want it and making sure that you stand out from the group of people applying, imagine if your a recruiter and you got 100 applications to plow thru, what would make you remember someone?

 

InshaAllah it will go well, I will keep you guys in my duas!

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For a year or so. I would suggest to compromise on salary. And don't look at it monetary terms. But to improve the CV.  This works. 100% of the time. If you will discount 25% of what you are worth you will be instantly hired. Because it boils down to economics. And he could beat the bit experienced guys., just to get in. 

Also getting 75% salary is still better than being jobless in monetary terms and career experience. Once you get the job, one's always find better opportunities because they get to build relationships with fellow colleagues and 70% of the best jobs you find through colleagues than LinkedIn etc. 

Edited by ErikCartman

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Salam Alaikum

I attended a professional/personal development day recently and I have a few comments being someone in the engineering world (I'm from the UK):

1. Make sure you have work experience. Nobody should be leaving university without having taken part in internships (but I guess that might have been almost impossible as a migrant). He can phone up different companies and ask about unpaid work experience, temporary work, volunteering etc.

2. Most jobs (~80%) are not advertised - he should expand his social network to include more people who will help him get a job. There are Muslim and Shia careers groups on Facebook, for example. But it is really important to get help from everybody he knows (Muslim or not) in order that they direct him in the direction of those who will be able to help him find employment.

He could approach start ups and other companies directly for paid full time permanent positions also.

3. Improve skills which are necessary in the work place that degrees don't provide. For example, he could be involved with the Muslim community in North America and organise conferences, engage in public speaking, be involved in international trips etc - anything worthwhile where you have a lot of responsibilty in the role should be pursued. He might not have the skills now but after being thrown in at the deep end he will, inshAllah. Companies here would appreciate that, even if you are explicit that it is working for an Islamic group - he'd have to think about it when it comes to the US (though I don't imagine it to be much different).

Another thing is that he should work on side projects related to his degree. For example, if he is specialised in hardware then he can work on a project where he really pushes himself to do something awesome. Side projects are a key to career growth.

4. Never forget God (but you already knew that).

Edited by silasun

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Thank you everyone I am noting down all the different advice on my head. I am going to try and revamp the resume and emphasize volunteering in place of the jobs he has had which would look more impressive. And I will look into certification but that might have to be put off for a bit because studying for it takes so much time in itself. 

Networking is of course important but sounds difficult. Where do we find these people who are willing to be used merely for our benefit? 

I think it is a good idea to directly call some companies, and ask for volunteer/intern positions. But I think calling to follow up on an application might be an annoyance? Many of the emails say to just wait until they contact us. 

Anyway all good advice, thanks again. 

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55 minutes ago, ireallywannaknow said:

Thank you everyone I am noting down all the different advice on my head. I am going to try and revamp the resume and emphasize volunteering in place of the jobs he has had which would look more impressive. And I will look into certification but that might have to be put off for a bit because studying for it takes so much time in itself. 

Networking is of course important but sounds difficult. Where do we find these people who are willing to be used merely for our benefit? 

I think it is a good idea to directly call some companies, and ask for volunteer/intern positions. But I think calling to follow up on an application might be an annoyance? Many of the emails say to just wait until they contact us. 

Anyway all good advice, thanks again. 

1. Networking shouldn't be difficult if one thinks carefully about it and tries to get out of their comfort zone - I'm a massive introvert but I managed to get myself into a circle of Shia engineers simply by associating with some good Shia brothers who are also professionally successful - I am much younger than my mentor and live far from a Shia community but I am now receiving help and advice on the career ladder that I doubt many people my age are receiving.

Try to research charities in the US which are designed to help people get on the right career path - they will be able to give great advice, may arrange an interview to learn more about his strengths and weaknesses and they can produce an action plan for his own development.

One thing that will be useful is to contact past professors and former classmates - it's very important to stay in contact with them. If you aren't still in contact then renew your contact

2. I think you should phone back if it has passed the time in which one would expect a reply - this is the part where having a more experienced mentor in the engineering world (see point 1) becomes really important so you can learn from their own experiences.

3. Definitely try and research thoroughly about the best means of producing an engineering CV - look through loads of examples and put it in the hands of a successful engineer to test and read through (doesn't have to be the same discipline - my own mentor is an electronic engineer whilst I am in mechanical division but he can still give great advice).

4. Consider a masters - in the UK most of the best get a masters but then again, we are out of uni at 22 whilst the Americans do all sorts at uni lol. It will definitely help a lot.

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Most of the jobs that I have gotten have been through someone I knew. This is the very unfortunate reality of how a lot of jobs are obtained.

Most employers can be a rather irrational and overlook capable people just because they don't have prior experience. This is almost certainly your husband's greatest hindrance. Once he gets his first job then it will be a lot easier to get subsequent ones. Silasun has give some good advice. I don't know if I can give good advice because I don't know much about the subject but I do think he could consider the following:

1, Go to engineering meetups to meet people in the field. https://www.meetup.com/topics/engineering/

2, Remember that employers are actually looking for qualified individuals but don't how to find them. Thus you must remember that people in your husband's field (shia engineers) may actually appreciate it if he contacts them to offer his services. If they have nothing available, they may remember him for future opportunities. At my place of work I remember that a grossly incompetent individual was hired, and my manager's justification was that someone recommended him. My manager hired other individuals who were also not very good, but he knew them and didn't know where to find good employees.

3, Employers may get hundreds or thousands of applications and they may not even look at them properly, thus yours needs to stand out. A manager of mine told me of an incident where a prospective employee dressed up as a delivery person and delivered a cake to the hiring manager. Inside the parcel was a note with a job application. This was sufficient for him to get an interview and get hired. So you may need to find creative ways to make your application stand out.

4, Try to contact the person who will make the final decision. HR personnel are often not qualified enough to make a good judgement. They can overlook people with potential. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_Color_is_Your_Parachute%3F

5, Work on some projects that are related to the job. E.g. I know of a junior games developer who made games in his spare time and made Youtube videos teaching people how to make them. This is before he got contacted by a development team who were looking for someone with his skills. He already demonstrated that he had the capabilities to do the job in his tutorial videos.

In a world where people are not as rational as we would hope, we need to learn how to formulate strategies that would help us.

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@silasun @Muhammed Ali

All good advice, thank you guys and may Allah reward you for your help and advice. We really appreciate it all. 

Alhamdulillah he has been contacted for interviews by a few companies, one of which was his dream job. What we have realized, and what they have explained, is that these types of jobs do not hire people with just a work permit. They only hire permanent residents (which we are waiting on, out of our hands atm) because they want a long term employee and not someone who MAY not be there long term. They said call them when he gets his greencard. This probably explains why most applications have been largely ignored. 

However he is traveling next week to an engineering job fair hosted by his Alma mater. It's what he has been looking forward to for months now so we will see what that yields inshaAllah. 

 

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I was a hiring manager for around 10 years, gaps look pretty bad, and when you have only a few minutes to get a list of 60 resumes down to 5 or 10, you throw away a resume when you come across a spelling/ grammatical error or anything jarring like a gap in employment. its just the way it is. there are too many people applying for too few jobs, so overworked managers have to somehow whittle down the list of applicants down to decide who to interview. 

my advice? say he was travelling. something that is too much effort for the hiring manager to verify but sounds cool. say he was scuba diving in indonesia for a year if you want, could be anything. 

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On 1/7/2017 at 9:25 PM, ireallywannaknow said:

Bismillah

My husband and I spend many hours a day looking for and applying to engineering jobs for him. Linkedin, Indeed, Glassdoor, etc. It's very exhausting. All we have had so far are rejections--silent and written. 

I'm trying to figure out what is such a turn off about the applications. My guess is because he has a "gap" in his resume and work history that looks kind of ugly. So I am looking for some advice on how to make his resume and cover letter look as appealing as possible despite what he has going against him.

So here's the back story. He graduated with his Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering December 2014. After that he was not able to work because he did not have a US work permit (he was on a student visa). So he spent the next 2 years trying to obtain his work permit, which was a long and expensive process. In the meantime he was working menial, less than minimum wage jobs (because he was basically working illegally). 

Alhamdulillah in November 2016 he got his work permit and we started looking for jobs, applying all over the US. Most jobs want some kind of prior post graduation experience understandably. But even the entry level jobs that call for 0 years experience reject him. We try to explain everything in the cover letter but it doesn't seem to help. 

-Is it because jobs have a bias against immigrants? 

-Is it because they are put off by him working "low level" jobs? Should we take them off completely? 

-Do we just need to improve the resume and cover letter? (If you think you can look them over and help with this please let me know) 

-Or is it just really difficult to land a job and we should be patient? 

He is thinking he should just go back and get his master's, but I'm not sure that would help because his real world experience would still be zero.

Help?

As Lady @hameedeh said he could cover his resume by adding volunteer work or he could change his line of work. Try to get into other fields. I have seen many engineers in business and IT fields. 

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8 hours ago, DigitalUmmah said:

I was a hiring manager for around 10 years, gaps look pretty bad, and when you have only a few minutes to get a list of 60 resumes down to 5 or 10, you throw away a resume when you come across a spelling/ grammatical error or anything jarring like a gap in employment. its just the way it is. there are too many people applying for too few jobs, so overworked managers have to somehow whittle down the list of applicants down to decide who to interview. 

my advice? say he was travelling. something that is too much effort for the hiring manager to verify but sounds cool. say he was scuba diving in indonesia for a year if you want, could be anything. 

That would be a lie. I believe that being honest + doing the best you can = Allah will take care of the rest inshaAllah. 

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14 hours ago, ireallywannaknow said:

That would be a lie. I believe that being honest + doing the best you can = Allah will take care of the rest inshaAllah. 

He should use a resume style that emphasizes skills rather than employment. He has to list the employment anyway, but if it's lower on the page it won't be read first, and might not be read at all by the screeners.

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I agree, I did rearrange his resume in that way a couple of weeks ago. He was very hesitant at first because it's not the traditional order of a resume, but I think it really helps emphasize the things that matter, and deemphasize the things that don't. Now he sees it too. 

Anywho, he said he is done applying for engineering jobs for the time being (except for going to the job fair). He is just going to wait for the greencard and do other work in the interim. 

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