Anonymous, Project Engineer

  • Current Employer: Now employed in London by major US Engineering Company
  • Qualifications: Iranian Industrial Engineering Degree
  • Experience: 5 years’ Iranian experience, 6 months’ UK internship

What was the initial situation?

I was intensively looking for a planning engineering job in London and not getting interviews. I have an Engineering degree from Iran (2006) and 5 years’ experience in Iran working on major utilities and construction projects. In 2010 I registered with a lot of recruitment agencies and got nowhere. Either they promised me great things and came up with nothing or they told me that I didn’t have 3 years’ UK references and couldn't register with them. No employers interviewed me for a long time. My CV was good, though probably too long and wordy, looking back. In 2011 I registered with Transitions. They agreed with me that my CV itself wasn't a key problem, but that 2 things would help: UK work experience for orientation and a reference, and my written applications should be more closely targeted at the person specifications with better and clearer examples. I didn't know this before.

What was your work experience?

One day I decided to walk onto a building site and introduce myself as an engineer willing to volunteer in return for supervised experience with them. They liked my profile and took me on. They offered me great experience and training on Health and Safety, with a CSCS card. I was a supervised voluntary intern there for 6 months and at the same time continued intensively applying for jobs. The Jobcentre were expecting me to find a job as soon as possible and the pressure was quite difficult.

How did you find a job?

Through Transitions I got an interview with a major employer. I didn't get the job but it was great interview experience. The next interview I was less nervous and more familiar with the UK regulatory standards and UK cultural expectations at work - like not standing up when the boss comes in! Transitions helped me with several job applications and I gave myself a target date to find a job. Finally it all paid off and I succeeded in finding a planning engineering job with a major US company in London. In the interview I used a portfolio to back up what I was telling them with my certificates and written examples and photographs of my previous work.

Looking back?

I wish I had known what UK employers expect of job applicants more at the start. I wasted a lot of time making poorly presented job applications that I was unlikely to get anyway because I had no recent or UK references.

Looking forward?

My job is very pressured and difficult and I'm still finding my way but hopefully I'll be a Chartered Engineer in the next few years.

Any suggestions?

I would like to see UK engineering professional bodies assisting experienced refugee engineers to communicate with engineering employers better, for mutual benefit. As an experienced refugee engineer I really needed UK experience and orientation to find a job as an experienced engineer and struggled for a long time without that, even though I was already experienced and qualified. I was very professionally isolated. All the stress of finding a job was put on me, with no formal support from the engineering sector or from the Government.

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