Develop Your Professional Identity: Tips from Professor Antonella Salvatore's New Book

How can young people be more competitive in today’s job market? What kind of skills should students and recent graduates develop to thrive in the constantly evolving world of work?

Antonella Salvatore

Antonella Salvatore

These are questions that Professor Antonella Salvatore, Director of John Cabot University’s Center for Career Services, answers in her recent book Stressati o Sdraiati? Solo In Cerca Di Lavoro(Stressed or Lazy? Just Looking for a Job), published by Franco Angeli.

Professor Salvatore presented her book at a panel discussion on the occasion of John Cabot University’s Open Day on February 8, 2019. She was joined by a distinguished group of professionals: Enrica Piermattei and Andrea Mazzeo, occupational psychologists from Elidea, Paolo Prisco, Partner, Ernst & Young. Former RAI journalist and Managing Partner of YourNEXT Anna La Rosa moderated the event.

Professor Salvatore explained that Italy has one of the highest numbers of N.E.E.T (Not in Education, Employment or Training) as well as the highest youth unemployment rate in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development area. In addition, Italy is also facing a serious skills mismatch: there is often a  discrepancy between the qualifications and skills that individuals possess and those that are needed in the job market. Recent data show that 32% of young Italians quit looking for a job because they lack motivation.

“Students and graduates are often confused and anxious when they have to make decisions about their future and professional path. It is a time when you are trying to decide not just what kind of job you would like but who you want to be and how you want to live your life,” says Professor Salvatore. “That is the reason why I decided to write my book, which is subtitled ‘Advice for the young and disoriented,'” Professor Antonella Salvatore added.

The presentation focused on the problem that Italian students often face when they graduate from university: developing a professional identity, a concept that is sometimes difficult for young people to understand. The common misconception is that the only way to find a solid professional identity is to undertake a further course of study. But a professional identity cannot be achieved simply by further study; it can only be achieved by looking within oneself and identifying strengths and weaknesses in order to develop self-confidence.

Speaking of strengths and weaknesses, Paolo Prisco surprised the audience by saying that as an employer, he prefers to hire candidates who are intelligent and lazy. When asked why, he explained that people who are intelligent and lazy are most likely to be creative problem solvers.

Professor Salvatore pointed out that young people have inherited obsolete cultural models, from a time when most Italians spent their entire lifetime in the same job. Interestingly, everyone on the panel had, in fact, changed careers at least once.

“I was happy to see that the presentation stressed the fact that because the world of work is changing constantly, young people need to develop soft skills in order to become adaptable and flexible. They also need to be proactive in creating opportunities for themselves and inventing their own jobs,” said Professor Michèle Favorite, Director of Italian Admissions.

Professor Antonella Salvatore is the Director of the Center for Career Services and Continuing Education at JCU. She also worked as Sales and Retail Director for multinational companies such as Calvin Klein Jeans, Sixty Spa, Bialetti Industrie, Fila Europe. Moreover, professor Salvatore is the founder of Osservatorio Cultura Lavoro, a multilingual blog aimed at understanding the labor market from a cultural and educational perspective.