To Be Employed


I would say that my strengths are communication and teamwork. I remember this time we all took a trip to the outer regions of Pakistan, near the mountains for a training camp and  –


Excuse me? What training camp?


Oh didn’t you read my CV? I was for a few years working with a low-level Islamic jihadist organisation based in the UK but occasionally we would take trips out to Pakistan for training.




Nothing too serious. It’s all written down there on my CV, thought it would be best to be upfront about it all. Now I’d like to be a project manager though.


Could you, just, tell me your name again please




Hamza, do you have a criminal record?


Yes, I do


OK. I’m not sure we will be able to proceed with your application.


Oh really? Why not? Is there a problem?


We just aren’t accepting candidates with a criminal record at the moment.


When do you think you will be accepting candidates with a criminal record?


We’ll be in touch. Thank you.


Not if I’m in touch first.


Sometimes I wonder if fear of the above interaction is stopping me from gaining employment. I’m not salty, I’m just curious. The longer I can scrape my way through this planet without interacting with the systems of the human oppression that degrade our interpersonal relationships to transactional engagements designed to keep us imagining that we are simply products and not people, the better. I do wonder though.


I’ve applied for a number of jobs recently. I want to get back into work. I’m bored. Unemployment is a period of time that oscillates between the sublime liberty of self-actualisation and the absurd horror of the same thing. When I was sure I wanted to head back into the world of work, I began applying for jobs. After many (and of course, many here is relative) I was granted a few interviews, none of which have thus far been successful.


One of which was so abysmal the interviewers did not even know the position I was applying for and questioned me about which role I would prefer. I lost all hope when the example used for “teamwork” was going out to get beers for the whole team. Nobody is below going out to buy beers. You would probably do that at some point. Fine, I said, I don’t mind buying beers, I would just like a job description.


Putting that start-up trauma briefly to the side, as I seem to be doing every year or so, I began considering the possibility of getting none of these jobs I was applying for. More applications. I would need to do more. How could they be better? Perhaps that cover letter was too generic, or my CV highlighted the wrong experiences, or perhaps I was too brown. What, really?! Yes. I was brown and still am and still am unemployed. Curious. Correlation or causation, or maybe a smattering of both.


I don’t put my photograph on my CV because simply and inarticulately put, FUCK THAT. I am however Hamza Mohammed Beg. If I were being discriminated against on the basis of my name not only would I be ignorant of that but likely the perpetrator also. I shed a tear for poor Jenny in HR and poor Craig in Recruiting who are perhaps unwittingly harboring some restrictive viewpoints about what a Muslim can bring to the table. Aside from samosa or falafel, depending on your judge of region.


I applied for jobs I was overqualified for, simply to search for the thrill of acceptance. To no avail. I applied for positions where the requirements matched my CV so perfectly that I wondered if I had travelled back in time and written the job description myself. To no avail. I applied for jobs, as everyone does, ranging from the mind-bogglingly mundane to the absolutely average. To no avail.


Side note here, I am well aware of the argument that I have simply not applied myself fully. More job applications. Do more of them, more often and with more making yourself sound great. To be fair, I haven’t met many other Muslims that run around in my employment circles, we are few and far between. Then I wonder, what am I doing sitting writing an article about the unfathomable possibility of being discriminated against. Ah yes. I’m asking people to double check the perceptions they have about Muslims. Those perceptions have grown and been fed in the era of the image, where the duplication of the information has overwhelmed us into submission. We just don’t know what to believe but we do feel certain things – I’m asking you to check those feelings.


I’m an overthinker, so naturally I trace it. Stereotypical perceptions of brown folk, especially those from the Indian subcontinent have actually been traditionally favourable in this endeavour. We have always been the middle-folk, oiling the machine, working hard, being the zealous paper-pushing over-working service-driven employee. I do however wonder what the overriding stereotype about Muslims is.


When you read my name at the top of the page – Hamza Mohammed Beg – what do you think? This guy is gonna revolutionise my company? This guy is gonna bring a fresh creative approach to the way we work? This guy is gonna provide valuable insights in the inner and outer workings of this company. Don’t kid yourself. You think, that’s a Muslim. You might not go so far as to think that I display sympathetic tendencies to the jihadist cause, but you cannot help but instantaneously other me. Hello.


From there, I have no clue what happens. Whatever it is, it certainly isn’t helping me enslave myself to the capitalist regime in order that I can eek out a measly existence paying to upgrade to a laptop that recognises my face when I open it up and speaks to me with my choice of greeting. Of course I choose “Salaam” – I’m a Muslim. So who knows if I am being discriminated against. I don’t. It is worth a thought, though.


So all I can do is complain to people about it.


“This thing is gonna be the death of me…and of all of you too, you know that right?”


Errrm, what exactly do you mean Hamza?


“Capitalism. I mean capitalism Craig.”


Written by: Hamza Beg

Images by: Jordan Whitfield @Unsplash