How Hassan managed to kick-start his Belgian career
Hassan is an engineer from Baghdad who found a job in Belgium after being here for only 2 and a half months.
Hi Hassan, first of all: congratulations on your new job! What brought you to Belgium?
Thank you! I came to Belgium as a recognized refugee. I studied and worked in my home country Iraq, before i fled to Belgium.
What was your professional background in Iraq?
I was employed in the oil and energy business as a local control and systems engineer. Basically I had to programme and apply building software, but I worked a lot in the field on construction sites in project management.
And how long have you been actively looking for jobs in Belgium?
Once I obtained my permanent work permit, it took me only 2 and a half months to find a job. I know, that’s very fast, and a lot of people told me how lucky I am that it went so smooth. I applied to so many companies within a short time, and then I could go to three job interviews. But they did not take me because I’m not fluent enough in Dutch. I get it, it’s fair, when you deal with clients, you have to speak the local language. So I kept applying, and at the fourth interview with an international company I was offered an internship. Right now I am still an intern there, and I have a good prospect of getting employed in the end of the summer.
What was the hardest part in your search for a job?
I guess the hardest part are the language requirements. In fact I was lucky that I found a suitable job so fast, in an international firm where the working language is English. I speak French pretty well, and I got assigned to clients in Wallonia. So basically the local language is a difficult part of the job search.
I also had interviews with smaller companies, but they expect a lot. They mostly don’t provide a company car, for when you have to go to client meetings, and they are more strict about speaking their language. This is why I am happy that I work at a multinational now and that I can also do more office work until my driver’s license gets recognized.
If you could give 3 tips to international future job seekers in Belgium, what would they be?
First of all you need to speak the language. Language is very important, especially in Belgium. If your Dutch or French is not so fluent yet, focus applying in international companies. So you can already improve your small-talk-competences in the local language and still go to language classes to get better.
Find out more about learning Dutch in Belgium and discover the classes closest to you.
The second thing you have to do is networking. You have to be open and go to network events and information days, so you will boost your job chances.
And finally you should know what you are looking for. Know your expertise and be realistic about what is possible. It’s OK to start with an internship, because that often leads to a real contract. You also have to be confident, also in the interview, and show them that you are motivated for the job. If you do that, it will get a bit easier to find work.
Want to learn more tips and tricks on how to get a job interview in Belgium? Download our free guide to getting a job interview in Belgium.
Thank you for sharing your story and your tips, Hassan. We wish you all the best!
Thanks again, I’m happy to help. It’s nice if you get useful tips so you can prepare your job search better.
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