NEW YORK – Stefanos Kasselakis is one of those people who turn ideas into machines. Building the new Greece will take time, but young Greeks need opportunities now and countless others need help, so Kasselakis created the website cvfromgreece.com, which provides young people with mentors to help them pursue jobs or studies abroad in exchange for volunteer work or donations to charities in Greece.
The process involves two full resume and cover letter reviews. After a candidate’s charitable contribution is confirmed, he or she is matched with a mentor with expertise in the industry of interest who offers advice on the original document, the candidate makes changes, and the mentor reviews those changes and makes new suggestions.
Kasselakis has been developing the idea and assembling his team for a couple of years while he worked for Goldman Sachs. After leaving the firm last June, he channeled his high energy into a number of activities, including studies at MIT and assisting with his family’s Philadelphia-based business. He is, however, most passionate about CVFromGreece.
An interview he gave to SKAI TV in Greece this summer stimulated many young people to participate.
His main concern is to prevent a lost generation from emerging in Greece. “Young people are not forming families, and not gaining opportunities to develop themselves,” he said.
They are well-educated, however, and are good candidates for jobs outside of Greece. CVFromGreece helps them land those jobs.
He has been told that he is helping take the best talent out of Greece, but Kasselakis responds it is the opposite of a brain drain. CV From Greece will preserve and enhance the country’s young minds by helping them get cutting edge 21st century knowledge and experience – and changing mindsets regarding both the world of work, and the value of volunteering.
Unemployed Greeks may leave anyway, and end up working as waiters in Germany and other faraway destinations. CVFromGreece offers them and the country much more. “And when the Greek political establishment gets its act together and creates an attractive commercial environment, those young people will come back, and CvFromGreece will connect them with opportunities there.”
Kasselakis is the ideal bridge-builder. He grew up in Greece, but went to the prestigious Phillips Academy Andover boarding school for high school eventually before becoming established in finance.
He was first inspired by conversations with his middle school classmates at Athens College who reached out for help on resumes, cover letters, and school application essays when the crisis hit.
He was shocked to see that his friends faced a linguistic deficit. No matter how much they had to offer, most resumes would be winnowed out even if their writing was only slightly off.
They also faced a knowledge deficit regarding the application process, but Kasselakis knows the ropes and how to help.
“There are three buckets of information interviewers gather: why should we hire you, why should we not hire you and the third is everything else,” he said, and noted that everything a candidate says, does and has written is scrutinized.
He was also stimulated by prominent members of the community in New York whom he met during roundtable discussions hosted by Antonis Diamataris, the Publisher-Editor of TNH.
“I saw a lot of good will that was ready to be harvested to help with the Greek crisis,” Kasselakis said, but while not everyone could write a million dollar check to a charity, he realized that if the Greek-Americans mentored Greeks on the condition that the latter would contribute to charities, they would be making a double impact.
“Their willingness to spend 30 minutes on a resume is also translated into many hours of volunteer work in Greece.”
CUTTING EDGE WEBSITE
“We have created excellent technology for cvfromgreece.com to facilitate the process,” he said, and explained that a lot of thought goes into a website of that kind, where not just the professional but the human element is so important.
Because of the importance of generating the most effective mentoring relationships, it resembles sites like match.com, and it works.
“The relationships I have seen develop between our candidate and their mentors are truly fantastic,” Stefanos Kasselakis said.
Mentors signs up through the site and after a brief verification process are matched with candidates according to three criteria: language, industry, and gender.
They also monitor the mentoring process through interns who are mentor coordinators, to make sure everything is on track. A head of mentoring oversees the mentoring process to ensure quality control. “And we support the mentors in their mentoring, through coaching and guidelines, but they lead the process,” Kasselakis said.
CVFromGreece is still at the scaling up phase and it is a lean operation that relies on volunteers at this time. The web developers are paid, however. That component is costly but important because the site is not only providing information about the organization, it is performing work. Candidates see guidelines for writing an effective resume and they engage in a proprietary messaging system with mentors to exchange idea and receive feedback and career advice. There will also be a forum in the coming weeks for candidates to interact with each other.
The CVFromGreece team is now reaching out to various online groups and career offices of universities in Greece, and are growing their sponsor base and public affiliations.
Kasselakis said there are two ways Greek-Americans can help contribute to the effort: By signing up to mentor, and by making donations – beginning at the $200 are listed on the site as partners – Kasselakis himself has made substantial donations.