IR Search Anton van Rossum

Anton van Rossum 

15 December 2021

A.K. asks:

A few months ago, my contract as a design engineer with a small chip company in southern Italy came to an end. Looking for a new job, I came across an advertisement for a senior analog design engineer, which strikes me as an interesting opportunity.

I believe my strong educational background and extensive experience make me a suitable candidate. I have a master’s degree in electrical engineering from a reputable university in Iran, I’ve taught in universities for years and written a number of scientific publications. My CV doesn’t mention that I’ve submitted an article to a university as part of a PhD, but since it hasn’t been approved yet, I thought it best not to mention this.

As a woman, it wasn’t easy for me to get a job at the universities in Iran. Sometimes, I had a 16-hour appointment, but I had to teach all week. To earn extra money, I tutored English and sold my scientific articles to professors – which is also why my CV contains so few publications.

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Years ago, I made up my mind to go to the West. Several of my friends in Iran have been detained because of their political and social views. I don’t have a Linkedin profile out of fear of being too easily traceable by the Iranian government, which doesn’t make me feel safe. I also still have family in Iran.

I’ve only lived in Italy for a few years and I haven’t yet managed to find a job for longer than a year. In addition, the number of chip companies active in my region is limited and so is my range of action, due to my husband’s work. University positions aren’t up for grabs here either.

What can I do to get a job? To increase my range, I could work from home and travel occasionally.

The headhunter answers:

I completely understand your motivation to leave Iran. The repression, discrimination against women and widespread corruption make life very difficult there. On the other hand, the lives of those attempting to escape this misery aren’t made easy here either. Sanctions are in place against the Iranian government in both the US and Europe, which also affect engineers trying to flee the country. In particular, American high-tech companies and companies that work closely with them maintain a blacklist that includes a lot of Iranians. Without it being explicitly communicated to you, this may well be a reason for your rejections. It’s infuriating that it’s precisely those who have come to the West as political refugees that are affected by these measures.

Nevertheless, I do see opportunities for you to work in your field, despite your age and lack of business experience. Based on your demonstrated intelligence and perseverance, I expect that you’ll succeed in convincing a company. However, applying to the position you mentioned is far too ambitious. To improve your presentation to potential employers, I think it would be wise to disclose that you’re in a PhD program. That gives a much better impression than saying that you’re “doing independent research” (ie sitting at home unemployed).

I also strongly advise you to create a Linkedin profile. It’s the most effective way to get in touch with your professional field. You can do that virtually anonymously, absolutely unidentifiable for stalkers. On Linkedin, you’ll find a wealth of information about colleagues, potential employers, open vacancies and developments in markets and technology.