Who knows for whom the door will open?

Multinational companies see the ideal worker as a highly talented, multiskilled person who does not necessarily have numerous degrees but does possess imagination, character and capabilities. Apart from their specific area of expertise, they should know foreign languages and be computer literate, as well as being dynamic, cooperative, adaptable, flexible, able to perform under pressure, creative and ambitious. This was the message that emerged from a two-day conference held recently in Athens by the Orion-IdeF educational group, which brought together representatives of 12 French multinationals and Greek graduates. The young Greeks were justifiably interested, as the companies concerned offer serious opportunities for an ambitious career with excellent pay. But among the highfliers there is still a lot of anxiety, insecurity, fear of unmet expectations and stiff competition. Let’s see what companies want from workers today. The first requirement is that candidates have broad horizons: Sylvie Zikos, human resources manager at Cetelem finance group, an affiliate of Banque Nationale de Paris, advises that a young worker must have the background to be able to deal with any market, including those in other countries. This is because new markets have developed all over the world, and mobility and adaptability are basic skills in the contemporary globalized work environment. She advises young workers to aim at having a spell abroad, possibly for studies, in order to get to know other cultures. This highlights the first mistake that many young people make today, and which may be due to the orientation of Greek tertiary education toward highly specialized postgraduate studies. The «flexibility and adaptability» demanded by Fnac human resources manager Irini Seiradaki won’t come from students with extremely specialized studies. Apart from foreign languages and computer skills, a university degree in the firm’s field is a basic requirement. But overspecialization in a first degree narrows horizons, and many human resource managers look more favorably on candidates whose first degree covers a broad field and whose postgraduate degree is more specialized. «Chase challenges, take initiatives and exercise critical thinking,» is the advice of Christina Kritsidima of Geniki Bank, who looks beyond the degrees and accomplishments listed in a CV to the personality behind them. Companies are not looking for workers who fit some rigid model with look-alike clothes and even look-alike ideas, but for rounded personalities that suit the company concerned and the product it sells. «Responsibility, professionalism and the ability to develop relations with clients are very important qualities for staff who want to succeed,» said the representative of a technical company. Avoid the salary trap Farsightedness is another quality in demand, which can also help when it comes to salaries. The advice of Carrefour’s human resources manager is of interest here: «Avoid the salary trap. A job that gives you a little more money but no prospects for promotion is not better than a job that allows you to develop and therefore earn more in the immediate future.»