(Editor’s note: This post about an expat job hunter turned recruiter originally appeared on Spouse Trail, a website dedicated to telling the stories of career-focused expat spouses in the Netherlands. It’s reposted here with the permission of the author.)
Deepali Bhargava has some advice.
“When you are applying for a job, always call the company that you have applied to. Today, I have a stack of 55 resumes on my desk, and I am most likely to pay attention to your resume if I have just spoken to you”, says Deepali, director of Information Technology at Meetingselect.
Deepali is building the IT team at her rapidly-growing company, but was on the other side of the job hunt not too long ago. An expat spouse in the Netherlands, Deepali nearly gave up her efforts to find a job, owing to tough entry barriers. Deepali represents the quintessential software talent that put India on the global IT map, having run successful software projects for no less a client than the Indian government, and working with some of India’s best technology companies. Yet, flustered by her job hunting efforts not bearing fruit, Deepali was ready to throw in the towel and head back to India, had it not been for the timely call from her current employer.
Having come to the Netherlands in 2012 as an expat spouse, Deepali was all set to continue in the Dutch division of her Indian employer, Mindtree Consulting. However, she quickly had to take a sabbatical to nurse her son who suffered frequently from illness. Before she knew it, the break stretched to four years through which her son underwent two surgeries.
When it was time to get back to work, Deepali was up against an invisible wall: “I was told that I was overqualified as a developer. But I did not get a single interview call for the jobs suited for my experience. Not knowing Dutch was a handicap too, I was told. It was very disappointing and I would convince my husband to move back to India, every year.”
In such a time, Deepali found fulfilment in a voluntary role she undertook for her son’s school. The International School of Utrecht (ISU) was looking for a student mentor to help set up a chess club. Deepali volunteered and not only helped set up the chess club, but led the teams to win trophies in several tournaments.
Most recently, the ISU chess team won second place at a National Level (NK – Schoolschaken voor Groepen 345). She also helped manage events for the extended community at the school. “I worked with a large multi-cultural group, as this was an international community. It was a great learning experience”.
Always seek to speak to the hiring manager of the role you are applying for. It is they who see your skill sets and understand if you are a good fit for the company. The recruitment firms cannot do that as they have a script to follow, which they apply to your resume.
Not wanting to bide her time waiting for the interview calls, Deepali decided to upgrade her skills by doing a Project Management certification (PRINCE 2), began her lessons in Dutch and even signed up for a job fair. It was here that Deepali met with industry people, and nearly got recruited by a global technology company.
She was interviewed by two directors of the firm, and even got to meet her future client, which was a rare instance in the recruitment process. Unfortunately, she lost the opportunity owing to a company-wide freeze on future developments. The director who saw her potential not only apologised to her, but remembered to call her years later to offer her a role in his new startup.
This affirmed Deepali’s faith in the power of an actual face-to-face meeting with the hiring manager for any role. “It is they who see your skill sets and understand if you are a good fit for the company. The recruitment firms cannot do that as they have a script to follow, which they apply to your resume. Always seek to speak to the hiring manager of the role you are applying for”, advises Deepali. After this episode, Deepali became even more adamant about applying to jobs that only fit her experience level, and not compromise.
A year ago, the wait proved worthwhile, when the hospitality firm, Meetingselect, hired Deepali as their first IT employee within a week of meeting her. She grew from strength-to-strength in this role and currently heads the firm’s IT team. “We are enabling Meetingselect to become an IT company with hospitality at its heart”, she says.
What drives Deepali? She says, “I have had the opportunity to work with exemplary women leaders, especially the director of my college, the ISU Director and the co-founders of Meetingselect, who are uniquely and pleasantly different from the cut. I believe that is the reason for their success and reinforce my belief that, when women get to work, they nail it! ”
About the author:
Latha Anand is a passionate communications professional with more than 15 years’ experience in journalism and public relations. Latha thrives on crafting narratives that engage the audience, mobilize opinion and motivate action. When she is not tackling a story, you can find her biking in Utrecht’s Maxima park or fussing over her Persian cats. Her secret sauce for friendship is her delicious Indian cooking.
Also see Latha’s Spouse Trail website here.