Reinventing Yourself

Author: Lilly Spantidaki

Lilly Spantidaki

I am an author -that is the only thing I was able to claim when I moved over to Dublin over five years ago.

I grew up in Athens, Greece, with one sole purpose: to be surrounded by books.
Therefore, I studied literature, comparative literature, read more than people my age, and consumed books like water. And to be transparent here, they still feel like water.

By the age of 19, I was the first non-native speaker to be accepted in a Creative Writing MA in London [that, ultimately, I didn’t do]. At the same age, I started my journey as a book reviewer in newspapers and magazines. I achieved being one of the youngest contributors to our country’s top and most prestigious literary magazine.

I am aware that so far, all this sounds like bragging but bear with me. That same job was the determining factor that landed me a role in the country’s biggest publishing house. I started when I was 25 years old and finished my studies as a hybrid of a salesperson and a PA to the company’s founder.

He was one of my biggest supporters that saw through my skill set and talent and insisted I would become part of the external team of acquisition editors. By the age of 29, I was an acquisition editor in more than eight publishing companies in Greece. At the age of 29, I found myself amidst recession, jobless, working from home and being paid by the number of books that I read.

So I had to move to Ireland….and I knew nothing other than books!

After several unsuccessful attempts to get into publishing remotely [something that most companies laughed at the time only for COVID to prove to them that it’s no joke anymore], I had to come to terms and figure out how to restart my career. It felt like a loss.

For a year, I isolated myself at my house, writing stories, trying to hold on as much as I could to what I love doing. Restarting was not in any of my plans. Having to work other than publishing was just not something I ever had to consider. So I admit that yes, it took me a year to accept the simple fact that:

Plans fail. So what does one do when plans fail?

STEP 1: Creative Chaos

I painted a wall with blackboard paint, got myself some chalks and divided it into three columns:

HARD SKILLS, SOFT SKILLS & MATCHED ROLES

I broke down the role that I had as an acquisitions editor into something that looked like this:

What I did as an Acquisitions Editor:

  • Read (a ton) of manuscripts.
  • Shortlist the “publishable” ones
  • Rate them (1–10, 1 being “needs re-writing” — 10 being “perfect fit, minor proofing needed”).
  • Present a full report of their ROI potential after coaching the author to edit accordingly.
  • Author branding in line with the brand of the publisher.
  • Enhance the publisher’s catalogue with the best match.

Then, I asked five stakeholders from my previous workplaces to name my one outstanding soft skill of mine, and they came up with:

  • Relationship management
  • Can-do attitude
  • Critical thinking
  • Motivating and
  • Social Skills

Column C — MATCHED ROLES started filling up with all sorts of role pointing into the direction of human resources, sales and recruitment. I studied the job specs that I found online, and I did the same exercise with anything exciting and matching. And then it dawned on me: What if I replaced books with talent? What if Talent Acquisition was my next step?

Both certainly require the same care, same attention to detail, managing expectations, matching abilities, forecasting and coaching.

STEP 2: Pros and Cons

The pros and cons list -I know, it’s a cliché, but it’s true. Each role that I found in column C was transferred into a new board filled with my personal preferences.

I’d instead work in the tech industry than hospitality, and remote working was a huge plus for me as I do better in quiet environments and cold calling. Was I afraid of it?

I delved into the roles, and after reading through what it means to be a recruiter, a BDR or an HR administrator, I eliminated some.

STEP 3: The Ultimate Question

Now, I think that’s the critical step. And there’s nothing to write down on this one or keep track of as it’s all 1 question. Perhaps the most crucial question of all.

Can you see yourself being in the role for the years to come?

If the answer was no, it was undeniable what I had to do.

But I also found myself daydreaming about how I could innovate in this role, what I could bring from my previous experience, how I would grow into the role, and spin it off to something uniquely mine, like my passion for diversity and equity and inclusion.

I was left with two roles that I wanted to apply for. And that’s when the final step came.

STEP 4: CV Upgrade

The CV Building. How could I make others, that never met me see what I was seeing when projecting myself into the roles enough to make them pick up the phone and call me for an interview?

CV building is not a trait that I learned anywhere in my previous jobs, nor did I know it’s a growing trait. So, I did what I knew what to do:

  1. Research [articles, blogs]
  2. Followed Recruiters on LinkedIn that are willing to help with CV building.
  3. I took a few online pieces of training [Udemy, edX and LinkedIn Learning have great resources on this]

And I practised what was best.

It took time and effort. This process also leads me to map out my five-year plan, what steps I should take to upskill myself and keep me accountable for my career progression.

But even if you don’t have to reinvent yourself, picking up your first role in a foreign country is hard. It requires the same amount of effort as if you would be restarting. The lack of network at the start, the language barrier and the cultural differences make us feel we’re on the spot.

Gladly, I am happy to say that we’re the owners of our stories. The way we narrate our stories to ourselves is what we project to others. Therefore, if there’s one takeaway from this article is

Roll up your sleeves, smile and make things happen!

About the Author:
Lilly is a Recruitment Coordinator with a storyteller twist. She is passionate about Diversity & Inclusion, Branding.
Connect with Lilly on LinkedIn.

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An initiative to support, inform and inspire migrant professionals in Ireland.