Meet: Nour Al Najjar

The Refugee Talent Hub constantly asks the refugee talents about their experiences. Today I got the chance to sit and have a coffee with 37-year-old Nour Al Najjar.

“I do not wish to be underestimated”

Nour Al Najjar is from Aleppo and has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. Before leaving Syria he worked in a service centre of a well-known communication provider. He has been in The Netherlands for five years now. Coming here cost him a lot, however, he believes that it was worth it. Since 2014 Nour has a residency permit here in The Netherlands. Nour prefers using the term new comer when describing himself.


How has your experience in The Netherlands been so far?

“The first three years in this country were terrible. To begin with the amount of Syrians in the country were very few compared to now, and there weren’t that many (if any) initiatives by companies to help out refugee talents, or even to communicate with us. However, a little way down the road when the number of refugees increased drastically, a lot of companies began taking initiatives to help out people like me. Even individuals became interested in helping out.”

The effect of the media

Nour explained to me how the media is the main cause for the change that took place between 2013 and now. The first couple of years, there was no attention payed to Syrian refugees, however, the media helped in shedding the light on the fact that, there are a lot of Syrians who are actually well educated with proper work experience. Suddenly, it was not shocking anymore to see a well-educated Syrian.


Refugee Talent Hub

Nour has participated in activities of the Refugee Talent Hub. “Refugee Talent Hub is trying to actually make a change, they are serious about their cause and are visibly trying to help us out. For example, I have attended multiple events with Refugee Talent Hub such as a event, the LinkedIn event at Microsoft and the Schiphol program. Through that I was able to meet more people and get in contact with people who are genuinely willing to help.”

Nour did not have much expectations when he first joined Refugee Talent Hub. He likes working hard and searching for jobs himself, and he saw the Refugee Talent Hub more as a doorway to connections, and a second circle on a means to find someone who could help him in finding a job.


Rare chances

As the conversation went on, Nour told me about the bitter reality of being a refugee talent, “I go on company websites on the daily, I apply for all kind of jobs in hopes to get something, however, in reality no one replies back to me. If I put myself in the shoes of the HR departments of companies I would completely understand it: you receive the CV of someone, who graduated from an unknown university, worked in unknown companies, doesn’t speak the language properly; so why would I bother with such a person as an employer? Due to this we as new comers rarely get a chance to even be interviewed”


Having connections will get you far

“The main goal for me right now is finding a proper fitting job for myself. I do not wish to be underestimated and I can do so much once I am given a chance. I also work with VluchtelingenWerk as a volunteer, and believe that there are enough vacancies in The Netherlands for people to get hired. My tip for other refugee talents would be to find yourself connections and network with others, since having connections will get you far. I would also advice the talents, to attend the different trainings that take place whether with Refugee Talent Hub or other organizations. Because when people see you personally they will be more willing to give you a chance.”


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