As a professional, I know it can be a challenge to look for a job while wearing hijab. Fortunately, I was always able to let my credentials shine enough for potential employers to not notice my hijab at all. That being said, while job hunting, I did run into a few places that were not as culturally aware. It is nearly impossible for any employer to be blind to the limitations that potential candidates may pose. For example, in the U.S., married women may have a harder time with employment because employers may worry about pregnancy. Orthodox Jewish candidates may also face untold discrimination with requests to keep Sabbath.
My dear family friend Murshed Chowdhury wrote a wonderful article on the blog Life Hacker that details how to handle job hunting with non traditional issues such as hijab. I can not tell you how helpful this article will be for all of you fellow hijabi professionals. Here are some of my own tips for anyone who is a hijabi looking for a job:
- Make Sure You Are Qualified: This sounds like a no brainer, but I don’t know how many times in my own hiring process that I notice applicants who are not qualified applying for roles that would not work well for them. Yes, you should strive for your dreams, but also be realistic. For example, in law school, I realized I love to write. Rather than quit school and try to apply for journalism postings, I created my own blog while I studied. This helped me gain critical experience that I needed in order to land my job with Thomson Reuters later. If you want to be a designer at a big company, try working as an intern at a small design house in order to gain the experience you need.
- Submit Your Resume Electronically: I know this seems odd, but I have noticed in my own experience that my resume is noticed a lot more when it is a stand alone piece. Once a potential employer sees my experience and educational background, they are more likely to make a call and do a phone screen. It also helps to network and tell your friends and family that you are looking for a job in particular industry. While I am pretty sure they won’t have a job lined up for you, they may know someone who is. It is all about networking.
- Build A Team You: In law school, I created a team I called Team Minara. This is a team that is comprised of friends, family, and mentors. Any time I needed advice, I turned to them. Remember that even when you land that job you keep in touch with your team. I still keep in touch with my team because they are the ones who got me where I am. Make sure that you build out your own team so that you can turn to them during your job hunt and even beyond that.
- Always Be A Professional Through The Process: If a potential employer wants you to do a phone screen or interview, make sure that you are on time, look clean and polished and that you have done your research not only on the specifics of the role you are interviewing for, but the company and its culture as well.
- Never Compromise: People respect your morals and values….if you stick by them. Don’t flip flop on where you stand because it can get confusing for colleagues. It also shows that you don’t have the discipline to stand for what you believe in. I remember how I refused to drink and my colleagues were confused because another Muslim colleague did. Well they lost respect for the Muslim colleague who did in the long run. While I say never compromise, that does not mean that you miss out on office parties or other workplace events. Just make sure you are cordial and that you respect others as you would like to be respected.
I hope that these tips help you all in finding that job of your dreams. Let me know how your own job hunt goes and I may feature you on Hijabi Life!