Applying for jobs, especially in our current economic climate, can be an intimidating, tedious and frustrating undertaking, especially when the unemployment rate in Italy is approximately 12.4%. As a result, job seekers often look to other countries and cities in search of employment opportunities. The most popular of which, particularly for Italian citizens, is the city of London, yet with 220,000 Italians currently registered here and a population of approximately 8.5 million, seeking and obtaining employment in a city with such a competitive job market can be challenging. Nonetheless, there are recruitment agencies with the aim to aid Italian-speaking job hunters in their overseas employment endeavours. A clear example of this is the training and advice service, CV&Coffee, founded in 2012 for Italian professionals struggling to find work in London. Furthermore, 2015 saw the launch of their recruitment agency with the intention of providing British companies with certified, talented Italian employees.
There are many facets to CV&Coffee, primarily they are a careers service offering personalised advice and assistance to maximise their client’s chance of obtaining employment in the UK. They receive hundreds of CVs and cover letters every week, which they usually re-write entirely from scratch in order to help their clients compete in London’s job market. After speaking with Teresa Pastena, founder and director of CV&Coffee, it became apparent that this editing process was essential as owing to the notable differences between British and Italian CVs, most notable of which is the format. They all include date of births and pictures; therefore, it is the job of Ms Pastena and her team to alter the CVs accordingly. They usually remove pictures, as they would be unusual to a British employer, however sometimes the headshots are even unusual to the team. Ms Pastena revealed that she was once sent a CV on which the client was pictured in a carnival mask and another in which a client attached three photos, simply to illustrate the various aspects of her personality! Additionally, unlike their English counterparts, skills and achievements are not prioritised in Italian CVs; instead emphasis is placed more on education. The importance of education can also be problematic in terms of securing a job as Italians are, on the whole, very well educated, with most citizens reaming in education until the age of 25. Yet, as a result they have little to no work experience and as a result, struggle when it comes to seeking employment against British candidates within the UK. Despite these obstacles, CV&Coffee strives to guide London based Italians through the UK system in order to help them secure employment. However, there is an abundance of recruitment agencies in the UK, what makes CV&Coffee so unique?
According to Teresa Pastena, what truly sets CV&Coffee apart from other agencies is the empathy that this organization has for its clients. “We care about our candidates”, said Ms. Pastena, “and try to keep in touch with them all, even when they have found employment”. She also added that the agency specifically stands out due to the fact that they are allocated a specific advisor who meets them in an independent London coffee shop. Ms. Pastena believes that meeting in this type of informal environment is integral to her organization as not only does this put the candidate at ease, but furthermore, this is the method through which CV&Coffee can obtain honest CVs, which according to Teresa are “always the most successful.” Naturally, this success has enabled CV&Coffee to develop into a recruitment agency based in the UK, striving to provide various British corporations with qualified Italian-speaking personnel. They offer recruitment services in 18 different industries from ‘Art and Photography’ to ‘Accounting and Finance’, working closely with numerous British companies to select ideal Italian candidates. Finally, they believe education to be vital, therefore they also specialized in training. They have established partnerships both in Italy and England, principally targeting the Italian education system, through which they teach students how to write successful CVs and cover letters, enabling them to compete in an international job market. Furthermore, they collaborate with the Italian Consulate and contribute to ‘Primo Approdo’, an evening dedicated to those Italians who have just arrived and are ‘finding their feet’ in the UK. CV&Coffee attend this regular event and offer their advice services to the Italian attendees for free. Consequently, all these events are ways in which Italians are supported in the UK and are perfect for establishing new friendships/networking, both on a professional and personal level, crucial for those individuals who are alone in the UK.
Interestingly, Ms Pastena personally noted an increase in the numbers of Italians seeking the assistance of the company since the beginning of 2014, with a high numbers of 30-40 year-old candidates with families submitting their CVs. Upon asking her why, she replied that that it is her belief that “Italians have become fed up with the system.” Not only is there a clear lack of employment, but there also seems to be a lack of money and most significantly a lack of meritocracy in the Italian system. This idea is further re-enforced by the 37% rise in the number of Italians who were allocated a National Insurance Number in the UK in 2015, in comparison to the previous year. Consequently, it clear that London is a Utopian careers hub for Italian job seekers of all ages and it is organisations such as, CV&Coffee that will inevitably continue to increase in popularity day by day.