Assalaamu alaikum sisters!
Today I'm doing a post on everything to do with applying for jobs, going for interviews, the dressing process as as well as a few other things. If this goes down well I might do more posts like this to do with problems you might face in the world of work and how to overcome them, I was going to include it here but the post is already becoming really long.
Note: If you're a woman with a rich husband who doesn't need to work and or a man who thinks women shouldn't work then good on you but please keep those comments to yourself, jzk.
My story (in a nutshell)
I was a student at the hospital I'm currently employed in, at the end of our 3 year course they said there might be one or two vacancies for the role of a radiographer and gave the 5 students in our year that trained there, the opportunity to apply and go through the whole process, before giving two of us the job. I was nervous but I thought 'what have I got to lose'? and applied. I gave it my all in the application process, fixed up my CV, wrote a personal statement telling people what I'm all about. I stayed true to myself and was confident in the fact that I knew what I was doing and I was just as good as anyone else.
As a student, I wasn't one that outshone the others, there were 2 girls there that were loud, outgoing, social and made it known that they very much wanted the job if there were any at the end. I was one of those people that just went into placement, got my work done and went home at the end of the day. I got along with everyone, was polite and did what I could, but the one thing I made sure I never done was change myself, my beliefs or my principles to fit in or to impress the managers.
There was one lady that really didn't like me when I was a student, in fact she made it her job to make my life a misery, there were days that I went to the prayer room and burst into tears because I couldn't handle it. I went and spoke to the Imam of the hospital (also called the Muslim chaplain =\)and he agreed that what I and my friend the only other hijabi Muslimah in the department were going through was harassment, but he told us to never give up because that's what they want. So to not give her the satisfaction as well as not let my parents down I stayed and I worked damn hard to finish the course.
I didn't think I would get one of the 2 jobs on offer but I made sure I came across confident to others and I kept telling myself that I am good enough, that if this job was meant to be, if it was in my fate then I would get it no matter what, and that if I didn't get it then I was destined for something else. After the interview I was pulled aside by one of the staff and she said that she thinks I would get it because people liked me as a person, I still didn't think I would but alhamdulillah that summer after uni I was told that I got the job and was asked when I could start.
Now 8 months on I'm not going to say that it was all easy sailing but I won't lie, it's been great alhamdulillah. The woman who didn't like me still doesn't like me but I'm so glad that I'm still there and still watching her smile uncomfortably knowing that she didn't get to me. Not only has all the general stuff been great, I feel much more comfortable around my colleagues. As someone who has never had a proper job in her life I'm being treated like an adult, like an equal and not inferior because I'm a student. I applied for a specialised role in the department (Nuclear Medicine) and got that position aswell alhmadulillah, inshaAllah I will be going on an injecting course as well as getting extra training in Nuclear Medicine. I have heard about other specialised roles that they're looking to train people in and everything is looking up alhamdulillah.
So I just wanted to say that life's not all that bad, every good thing happens for a reason and every 'bad' thing happens for a reason too, reasons our little minds cannot always comprehend but Allah is the best of planners and He really does know what's better for us.
"The pen has dried, the pages have been lifted: all events that shall come to pass have already been written.
"Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us."
[Surah At-Taubah – Ayah 51.]
Whatever has befallen you was not meant to escape you, and whatever has escaped you was not meant to befall you: If this belief were to be firmly ingrained in your heart, then all hardship and difficulty would become ease and comfort."
My Advice: To sisters looking for a job
My advice is simple, first step is to
Believe in yourself.
I've always believed that if you want others to have confidence in you, you HAVE GOT TO have some faith in yourself. Sometimes I feel like I've just floated through life, fooling others into thinking I'm good at what I do when in actual fact I was dead scared and nervous and at times unsure of myself, but hey by the will of Allah it worked! So have a little faith and believe that you are just as good as anyone else going for that job (because you really are!). Pretend to be confident even if you're not it gives out a good vibe and one day you will believe it too.
Have faith in Allah's decree.
Everything I have ever done whether its going into an exam, a driving test or job interview, I've always reminded myself that Allah knows what is best for me, I've come this far, worked this hard if it's meant to be it will, if not then I'm destined for something else. Never despair if you've tried, tried and tried again, you've not failed but have been re-directed and will continue to be re-directed until you end up where you are supposed to be.
Take away those negative attitudes.
I know so many Muslim Hijabi women who are very successful in what they do, so I really don't understand when people say 'I didn't get the job because I was discriminated against'. Although yes, there might be certain jobs or certain people that will discriminate against you because of your religion I don't believe that your religion is the reason you've been unsuccessful in finding a job. In fact I reckon a lot of the time sisters have gone into the interview room with a stereotype of the interviewing panel, they've gone in with whispers in their head saying 'they're gonna take one look at your hijab and you wont get the job', but to be honest if you go into an interview or application process with that in your head chances are you're not going to give it your all, you're not going to be yourself, you're going to hold back because you're afraid that you'll be let down (again). So you go in with your guards up and go out leaving a bad impression, maybe not because of what you did or said in the room but the actual vibe you sent out.
Don't make pre-judgement's on people or places before you've given it a chance because you're pre-judgement's might be wrong. I was talking to my cousin about this issue and she agreed, she went into the company she now works for thinking that she wont get the job because majority of the employees are white and there are no Muslims there at all, she went for it anyway just because she had nothing to lose, to her surprise they were all really nice, they told her that she was over qualified for the role she applied for but offered her another position.
So the point I'm trying to make here is be open minded about the people you are going to work for just like you would like them to be open minded about you. If the people are judgemental toward you and discriminate against you think to yourself 'is that really somewhere you'd like to work, are they the type of people you'd like to spend majority of your day with?'
Make an effort
First actually get off your butt and actively look for a job. People often just make du'a and think a job is going to fall out of the sky...newsflash! It probably wont. Apply online, call up companies you'd like to work for, I'd also recommend doing it the old fashioned way and giving out your CV or setting up a meeting with potential jobs and see if you can persuade them into giving you a trial run to begin with. If the job market in your field is not looking too good as with radiography, it's best to just do everything you can to at least get your foot in the door, speak to different work places and see if you can work voluntarily maybe one or two days a week, this will not only show that you're keen and willing to put the hard yards in, but will also look good on your CV & at interviews when a job opportunity does come up because you can show how you've been utilising your time and keeping your skills up to date.
Alot of the jobs you apply for online are long and boring, when you've applied to a few you get lazy and don't put as much effort in as you did with the very first one, don't give up and put the effort in with every application, you never know when your chance could come along.
Make du'a & renew your intentions
I'm sure we all make du'a when we really want something and this isn't any different. Genuinely make du'a all the time, they say that if you really want something and your not praying in tahajjud for it then you can't really want it that much, so make that extra effort in your ibaadah and ask Allah to give you something that will be beneficial to you in this life and in the next. Remember why you want a job in the first place, everything we do in this life we do for the sake of Allah. Whatever job you go for make sure you really are doing it for the sake of Allah, making a living is also following Islam, working in a job that provides a service to the needy is for the sake of Allah, helping sick people, teaching children, trading goods are all for the sake of Allah. Don't forget that you are only a traveller in this world getting by for the sake of Allah.
This is the first impression your employers will have of you so make it good. Include all your achievements and the usual stuff (I'm sure you know what goes here so I wont bore you).
Employers will see hundreds of these CV's and applications so make yours stands out. Include things about your personality and write a few lines about your passions, hobby's and interests, write about some of the voluntary and charity work you've done, but don't just write about it, write how these things have shaped you as a person and moulded you into the perfect candidate for that job.
Don't lie on your application (because you will get caught out) but make sure it leaves a lasting impression on the reader. How do you do that? Use the sandwich effect: start with something interesting and end with something interesting so they will remember you.
I often get asked how should I prepare, what du'as can I recite, what do I do about the hand shake? So this section I'm going to go through a few of those things inshaAllah.
Keep your outfit smart/casual. There is no job too small that you shouldn't dress well for. The key to dressing smartly is keep it simple and minimal. Here is some advice that was given to me not sure how much truth there is to it so take it with a pinch of salt.
Colours like red & yellow are ones you should avoid because they come across as overbearing, employers don't want people who are intimidating and red is a colour often associated with power and arrogance. I don't know how much truth there is to that but stick to neutral/earthy colours.
Accessories should be kept to an absolute minimum, don't wear a lot of jewellery especially statement rings because you want the interviewers to listen to what you have to say and judge you based on your actions/speech, jewellery can be a distraction.
Hijab style should be simple, neat and elegant, don't go for all the layering up, brooches, dangly pins, busy distracting patterns, mahoosive beehive hijab styles because like I said with the jewellery you don't want your exterior to be a distraction.
If you wear an abaya/jilbab go for a dark colour like black, dark purple, navy, to make it look smart you could wear a blazer on top or a nice simple cardigan.
Look smart, classy and presentable (unless it's a creative sort of job in which supposed to look 'interesting' or something) Remember first impressions do count.
Before the interview:
Before anything major like tests and interviews I always pray 2 rakat nafl salaah (after the obligatory salaah if its due) and make a long dua asking Allah to make it easy for me.
Drink water to calm your nerves
Recite the du'a of Musa (Moses) AS
You may or may not know this story: Musa AS had a stutter, when Allah told him to go and give the message of the One true God (Allah) to the Pharaoh, he was afraid and nervous because he was not good with speech, Musa AS then made this dua and headed off with his brother Haroon (Aaron) AS for support:
رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي (20:25)وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي (20:26)وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِّن لِّسَانِي (20:27)يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي (20:28)rabbi ishrah lee sadreeWayassir lee amreeWaohlul AAuqdatan min lisaneeYafqahoo qawlee"O my Lord! Open for me my chest (grant me self-confidence, contentment, and boldness)."And ease my task for me;"And make loose the knot (the defect) from my tongue, (i.e. remove the incorrectness from my speech)"That they understand my speech,”Al-Qur'an, 20.025-28 (Ta Ha [Ta Ha])
You should recite this du'a often, before the interview and start your speech (maybe not audibly if it's not with Muslim interviewers) with Bismillah.
At the interview:
Smile it releases a chemical called serotonin which helps to keep your mind and body at ease. Smiling is a universal language and it sends out a positive vibe to those around. People want happy employees so smile....also might I add 'IT'S SUNNAH!' and all of the sunnah's have much wisdom behind them.
The dreaded handshake! What do you do if you walk in and someone holds their hand out to you? This is a dilemma we've all come across. If its a female interviewer then obviously make it a firm handshake, if it's a male interviewer I would suggest you put your right hand over your heart and say it's very nice to meet you sir, if you feel the need to explain just be completely honest and tell the interviewer that as a Muslim woman you do not believe it to be permissible to shake hands with a man you are not related to, explain that you understand the handshake is a kind gesture in the western society and that you appreciate it.
Don't sit until you are told to sit or ushered to sit down. It's just like when you knock on someones door you don't enter until you've been told to come in. You've just entered their territory so it's only polite to wait until you've been told or shown your seat.
Take your time, don't rush and think about what you're going to say before you open your mouth. Don't just blurt something out, when asked a question, take a moment (a short moment mind you) to understand what they asked you and then give your answer. If you don't know something (don't bluff like I often do and then regret it) but just say that you are not sure or 'sorry I don't know', if you don't understand something that you've been asked don't sweat it just say 'I'm sorry I don't really understand what you mean please can you re-phrase the question?'
Be yourself, the whole interview process is so that the interviewers can get to know you and see if you would fit into their company, so don't try to be someone you're not, just be calm and be yourself (or the best version of yourself you can be). Let your personality and character come through in your speech & actions, don't say something you think they want to hear but say what you think is right.
After you come out of the interview say Alhamdulillah because truly all good comes from Allah.
I hope this post was helpful, if it was please do let me know and also tell me what other posts related to this topic will be helpful.
Until next time Masalaama!