This is my first article, and I would like to say a big sorry to the Writers Association because it will not be a remarkable piece of artistic writing but a rather common and, to some people, boring story. But it is my story and for me it’s something extraordinary. And I use the word extraordinary because if you told someone 10 years ago that I would be working for an international organization in Greece, a country with a youth unemployment rate of 45%, in the middle of an economic crisis, they would give you a tap on the shoulder and say, “You should go and see a doctor.”

So how could I possibly be a failure in 2007 and a success in 2017? And, no, this will not be a Marc Zuckerberg story. Was it hard work? Sure, yes. Was it connections? Maybe. Was it luck? Absolutely. But most importantly it was PLANNED. In order to have a plan, you need to have a GOAL. And my first goal was to overcome my failures.

6 years and 55 TV Series in English

My first serious failure was that I couldn’t get an English language proficiency certificate. I took the test twice and failed both times. Now I’m writing an article in English (!!!). What I realized was that even if I took the test 100 times, I would always fail. You should understand that not every person perceives knowledge the same way, therefore you must learn when to stop, think and find another solution. So, in my case, I stopped, and I thought that when I will felt ready again I would try once more. It took me 6 years and 55 English TV series to be able to speak fluently. Once I mastered the speaking, I decided to try the tests and, guess what? I was able to understand the idioms and tricks of the language. My point here is that if you fail, you must find your own way to overcome the obstacles. It’s not a formula that someone can teach you; you must find it yourself.

Ranked 7th in the class. Seriously?

My second failure was a test I took to enter University. A total failure. I was accepted by a school in a city I didn’t want to go for a major I didn’t like, and I was so angry at myself that I didn’t even want to leave the house. The look on my parents’ faces when they saw my results was something that I swore I would not see again. So, I decided to give it another try the following year. The problem was that the way the tests were being conducted was the opposite of how my mind worked. Even my teachers said that my thinking was backwards. However, even though I was expecting a lot more, I managed to get into the Tourism Management Business School. I thought, living in a touristic country like Greece, that this would be useful when job searching in a few years’ time. Remember, we are still looking at failure in all aspects.

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So, I started school and I was doing well. Every semester I was reading the books and I was trying to keep up and pass the exams, but I did not have a goal. In the third semester there was this magical moment. When I asked about my overall grade, they told me I ranked 7th in the class. I was like, “Seriously?” So my goal was set at that moment, to constantly be among the top 5. I was consulting my professors, taking notes from other classmates, adding clauses to my exams that if my paper was under a B, the professor should give it an F so that I could take the exam again in 6 months. My goal was to succeed, having my promise to my parents as a guide. You must have a guide or motivator to successfully complete your plans. While I was doing all this work, I started to create a plan, a 4-year plan in fact, and I was determined to keep to it. My plan was that before I searched for the job of my dreams, I first needed to follow some steps. Every person should use his/her own steps.

4-year Plan: 4 Steps

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The first step was to graduate in 2013 with as high a grade as possible. I graduated 2nd in my class.

The second step was to fulfill my military obligations in 2013 and 2014 without losing a sense of the market and to do whatever it took to boost my CV. I went into the military, I worked there, I participated in seminars and I volunteered.

The third and fourth steps were to go for a Master’s degree in 2014 and 2015, after my military service, and if possible to get a scholarship. I was accepted to Lund University in Sweden and I was awarded a scholarship from a local foundation here in Greece.

So, in 2011 I had a plan for the next 4 years. The secret is to set goals and have a plan, but the details might change. The goals and the plan should not. I changed a hundred decisions throughout these years but I always adjusted every circumstance to fulfill these goals. You need to set priorities in order to achieve results.

A Little Tough, Don’t You Think?

And there was the time that the 4-year plan came to an end. So, “What now?” I thought. Let’s create another plan. Oh, wait. How can you create a plan with this job insecurity? The truth is that you can’t! You must create plans when the actions are totally under your control and there is no luck involved. Luck, knowledge and experience comes next.

Ok, I am a graduate, and I came back from Sweden to search for a job in Greece. “This guy is crazy,” you might think. Family reasons can always change your plans, so whatever you plan to do, don’t leave your family behind. Try to adjust your needs to their needs. Family is will accept your failures and give you strength in difficult situations.

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So what do I do now? Let’s see. I finished Tourism Management. I finished HR. I didn’t like working in the tourism industry and, in Greece, HR departments are limited. I don’t have a plan, I cannot create a plan, and I am not willing to be compensated any less than what I sacrificed to get here. A little tough don’t you think?

534 Job Applications and 8 Unsuccessful Months

The secret is to do something that you like because your productivity will be evident in your work. I know that many of you will comment that if you need to eat, you need to do whatever job is necessary. And I agree with this statement; however, don’t forget that being miserable is not the purpose of life. Even though you might be doing a job you don’t like, try to find balance in your life. Don’t stop searching for the things that makes you happy. You spend 1/3 of your life at work, so you need to feel good about it.

The first thing I did was to apply for jobs related to my major. It took 534 applications precisely till I received my first job offer after graduation. I was part of final groups, last two candidates, minutes away from a position, but I did not succeed for 8 months. During this 8 months I was trying to keep up with the market. Do not forget to keep up with market trends. Don’t let yourself fall out of the market. I was creating CVs and preparing individuals for interviews. It’s ironic, if you think about it, because my clients were offered jobs and I was “unemployed”. Some people can be good football players and then good coaches in their careers. Some can only be good coaches. I had offers for a job, but I declined them. The art of saying NO is something that you cannot teach. Whatever is not good for you at the beginning, will rarely be better in the future.

Something About Choices and Alternatives

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After 8 months an opportunity came around. This was luck. If I hadn’t had a LinkedIn account and if I hadn’t checked my messages, I wouldn’t be writing this article. I spent 5 months with an amazing team. In my previous job, I had never experienced anything similar. The next opportunity came a few months later. This was a moment when a person needs to evaluate their circumstances. Look ahead. On the one hand, you have great workplace chemistry with your colleagues and a really good job. And on the other hand, you have the opportunity to change environments, with unknown set of colleagues but with maximum work potential. So, what do you do?

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I chose the second one. I ensured that my family issues had now passed. I was totally depressed that I was leaving a great working environment but the option ahead of me has the potential to expanded my opportunities in the future. When you work in an unstable environment you must always make choices that provide you with the most alternatives.

Judging from the results, my decision was the right one. I found great colleagues here as well, a great environment and a lot of opportunity. There are ups and downs in a person’s life. I just told you my way of doing things, my patterns and my choices. Any of you who want to follow this way of approaching life, set goals and make plans. Life is full of surprises that might change you positively or negatively, but when you find things that make you happy, keep them and take them with you on your journey.


nicolaosNikolaos Amoiridis is currently a HR Professional at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, based in Athens, Greece. He has been working for the International Rescue Committee as a HR Recruiter and as a Career Management Consultant working on various projects for clients across Europe. He is an honored graduate of the Tourism Business School of Thessaloniki and a graduate of Managing People Knowledge and Change at Lund University, Sweden. He has also been awarded a scholarship from the Karelia Foundation in Greece.

Nikos is a passionate individual providing CV tips and sharing interesting articles on his new Facebook page: Upgrade your Career (@upgradecareer).

Connect and collaborate with Nikos on LinkedIn and Twitter (@AmoiridisN).

You can catch up with Nikos on Skype: Nikolaos Amoiridis (nikosdon).

For more details please send your email to:

amoiridi@unhcr.org or nik_oc@yahoo.gr