A life experience of a Polish girl on the Greek island of Crete.

Polka pisze wiec po polsku tez bedzie…

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

What about a job on the island?

I know it doesn’t sound like an optimistic story, but it’s been always a pretty frustrating subject to me!

One of my nightmares of living on Crete as well as the nightmare of many of my Greek friends is finding a job on the island. It is a long and tedious process to get a job, any decent job on Crete. It is considered to be a miracle if you can get a permanent post. On the other hand, the good thing is that while you are looking for a job, in a mean time you can go to the beach, get a nice suntan and improve your look for the next interview;) 

Generally, Greece is not the land of opportunities and the country that gives young people chances. This is a wonderful holiday destination but the job market has been and still is a big misunderstanding. I have an impression that it is not good to be too ambitious when you decide to move to Greece. Even if finally, you will be lucky enough to find a job, do not expect that someone will make an effort to teach you more than you already know and your employer will stimulate you to perform better with a salary or any bonuses or even a good word! You can try, do a lot of useful things, work overtime, bring to work your own computer, drive your own car to accomplish your boss’ orders; it is rarely good enough or appreciated. That could be the case why in the country that lives on tourism, not too many people see a work in the tourism industry as a career opportunity or under such circumstances; this is not a natural process that a twenty something person feels like going to work! Looks like Greeks know what it means to work for Greeks???

While in Poland I see my friends being excited about their jobs, workshops and incentives that their companies offer to them, here on Crete I have never observed such attitude and people do not discuss their professional life like it doesn’t exist. It seems to me that everybody has a work for the sake of having a work and after eight hours go by, they close the door even if the building where they work is ready to collapse. I don’t blame there, I’ve been on this path too. 

 Based on my and other Greeks and non Greeks’ experiences, in most cases, finding a job on Crete it is all about who you know rather than who you are and what you can do. Believe me, it was always a case, before or during the crisis! It has just now escalated. People with higher education are not welcomed on the market (supposedly they are too expensive for the employers!).  I have a friend that although she has a master degree she only admits to have a high school diploma – how spooky is that?!!! I think that this is a big part of this country’s problem– government not giving incentives to private entrepreneurs, the employees who are not capable or willing to recognize a good worker (everybody knows that smart people cause problems) and lots of unqualified, old and unenthusiastic workers being paid too much and irrelevantly to their knowledge and performance (mostly in the governmental sector). 

The age hierarchy is so strong that you can almost forget to get a responsible job before you reach your forties. Making a career in you thirties, this is certainly not a common case in Greece! Based on my observations, the only exceptions are the young people who happen to fall into a family business. If you don’t have a family business or a significant financial help from your parents, nowadays you can almost forget that you’re going to make it in this country and you will leave your parents’ house before you’re forty years old.

Of course, you can always get married and if your spouse has a good profession, life will not be so tough on you. Probably, this is the reason why so many Greeks get married. Hard to say, but somehow I see the connection of poor Greek economy with the promotion of a family life! Probably, this is why the single style of living and feminism were never trendy in this country? 

Coming back to the subject of young Greek generation, they struggle to get a steady employment so what can be offered to a foreigner who does not speak Greek? 

After a few years I managed to learn Greek, which is obviously an advantage on my side, but here I am again, looking for a job. I read a newspaper almost every day, but the only offers I come across are to make souvlaki or to take care of elder people. Plus, some offers rigidly state that only Greeks are wanted! Oh, I forgot to add that they also look for good looking women to work in a bar! We had a laugh with my husband that all those advertisements you could just sum up in one sentence: “Wanted! Attractive, Greek woman, to take care of an old person and cook him/her souvlaki”.  I have nothing against souvlaki  (which I really enjoy eating!) or sick old people, but looks like a very poor job offer to me.  Once a while there is some hotel job or office position, but this is it. Crowds attack and for a simple reception job there can be 150 applications!!!

People who know me may say that I can’t complain. I had a steady job for the last five years. I know that the situation is difficult due to the crisis. However, believe me, job issues were always the same in Greece and whether with or without the crisis, salaries were low comparing with the high cost of living. 

I just wonder how with the whole situation on the market, there are so many Mercedes and Porches driving around the town???? How can “a generation of a 600 euro paycheck” wear Lacoste , Burberry and Louis Vuitton bags (all real!!!) – Probably because with a low crime rate, they are not afraid of being robbed in the middle of a day? Definitely, some people know better how to cope in the Greek reality! Good old days still pay off! How much longer though??? Mrs. Merkel may know something about the whole situation;)

1 comment:

  1. Well said! The decision to live and work here as a foreigner almost always means a compromise on the job/income front - now more than ever. This country has a long way to go until it will reach the light at the end of the tunnel... Funnily enough it is people like you and me who are willing to help working towards this goal and not only into our own pockets! One of the many contradictions here...
    On the plus side, you now have time on your hands for writing this wonderful blog... keep going, you are speaking out of my heart!!