true tragedy

How my Greek friends and I spend the most productive years of our lives: Apply for jobs. Check email. No response. Repeat. So the days go by

November 6, 2012
Obsession
Euro Crunch
November 6, 2012

I’ve been searching for a job for the last couple of years, but unfortunately no opportunities have arisen. In the meantime, I volunteer with a nongovernmental organization for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Ever since I submitted my capstone project in the summer, I started looking for a job even more intensively. I updated my LinkedIn page. I created accounts in all big headhunters companies. I told all my friends I was looking. Not one day passes without checking applications. Unfortunately, the number of vacant positions is limited. Those that are related to my field usually require great experience. If that’s not the case, then there are too many applicants so you never hear back.

I am an MBA graduate, with a concentration in public relations (especially events) from Hellenic American Cultural Center/Hellenic American University. I am 26 years old. My first degree was in philosophy and history of science from the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens. I am a graduate. I have four years of working experience and two as a volunteer. But is it enough?

I am looking for work in a corporate affairs department or a marketing department in an events organization. Starting as an event manager’s assistant is my aim. In any case, I cannot limit my options to just one field, so I am also applying in public affairs, possibly to work as a personal assistant/secretary etc.

I started looking for a job abroad; the European Union is considered to be easier in comparison to the US. Nonetheless, things are not easy there either. I was actually looking for a job in countries where I can speak their language (English or French leads me to the UK, France, Belgium, Switzerland). But again, I find limited positions, great competition, and usually it’s harder for a company to hire a non-citizen (much more paperwork, I suppose).

I was surprised by the fact that even from countries with much less unemployment than Greece (it’s higher than 25% here), I got no responses or at least an email to inform me that if I am not suitable for the position I will not be notified. For Greece, though, I have come to expect not hearing anything. There might be one position and at least 500 applicants. If they find what they are looking for in the first 50, why check the rest of the applications? It is very sad: so many well-educated, young people in their most productive period will remain unemployed for so long and unfortunately without anything promising in the near future.

I do not earn any money. Due to the current circumstances, I am “forced” to live with my parents and live on pocket money, which does not exceed €40  per week (paying gas for my car comes out of that). Here is what my schedule looks like:

9:30 a.m. Wake up
9:45 a.m. Check email while drinking coffee. Pity. Still no answer to my emails.
9:45 a.m. Starting looking for job applications on sites such as Careerbuilder, Randstad, Adecco, Manpower, etc.
10:30 a.m. Gather all relevant job applications and starting sending out emails with my CV, including a cover letter customized to each company and position. Multinational companies are usually my favorites, but I would never limit my options.
11:00 a.m. Done with CVs. Networking is on. Trying to find new connections  and follow companies in LinkedIn. Call old colleagues to let them know I am searching for a job and to keep me in mind in case an opportunity arises.
13:00 p.m. Lunch break
14:00 p.m. Reality check. Perhaps somebody did respond. They never do.
14:05 p.m. Phone calls (if the phone number and name of the company were actually visible in the application—usually not) to companies emailed the previous day to make sure they received my CV and if they have my contact details.
14:30 p.m. Done for the day

This is the day of many young people across Europe right now. The great majority among my friends are unemployed or soon to be unemployed. Most of them have master’s degrees and if they have obtained them abroad, they try to find a job in the country in which they studied instead of coming back to Greece. This seems rather difficult, though, and that makes one wonder what are the chances to actually be hired abroad when searching for a job while in Greece.

Things seem pretty hard at the time, but there is still some optimism. It is a fact though, that things were much different five years ago. There were many more jobs, salaries were good—not extraordinary but enough to live decently. From personal experience, I can admit that if I quit a job five years ago, I could be sure that within a month I would be employed again, just not necessarily on a high- or medium-level management. Back then, I could find a job as a cashier or in sales. Now even that seems impossible.

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