Getting a job (and trying to keep it) will be always be an important phase of one’s life (unless one is born rich not to have any need to have one). In our globalized world where having a job is a scarcity commodity (particularly in the US and Europe) nowadays, the concept of Employer of Choice has had a different meaning from it had originally meant to be. For me, this article has a special meaning as I try to help in my small way to create some jobs in what I do.
From BusinessWorld Philippines
November 08, 2012
MAYBE IN a time when the economy is expanding, as it seems to be again, there is in the job market a supply and demand situation that favors the former. But are there really more openings looking for willing applicants? Even with the now fashionable encouragement of entrepreneurship as an option for graduates, as opposed to employment in big corporations both local and multinational, one quickly concludes that it is not a case of choosing one or the other. Even those opting to work for other people rather than be their own boss (as well as investor and risk-taker), small businesses still account for a significantly high 90% of actual jobs. Thus, even top graduates from elite schools, including those coming from abroad, are projected to work for organizations with less than thirty employees.
The supply and demand situation in the job market can be difficult to plot at the macro level. To the new graduate who is still “enjoying his vacation,” the job market seems to favor the demand side. Few available jobs seem to be chased by too many applicants. And maybe, the days of a new graduate with a problem of deciding which of the five job offers he will take are gone for good. In the financial sector for one, with the failures and consolidation of banks and finance companies, including pre-need insurance agencies and the cutbacks in staffing of even the survivors, the supply side of application forms and reams of bio-data is brimming with unsold inventory.
A recent two-day job fair by a corporate group attracted 10,000 applicants for only 200 job openings. This is more than a problem of matching skills with positions.
Indeed, there was a time when large corporations like utilities, consumer goods, and banks would always define their mission statement in terms of being an employer of choice for top talents they need to recruit. To this end, such companies strove to offer better compensation and benefits as well as training opportunities than their competitors to become “top of mind” when it comes to job hunters, especially those that are young, bright, competent, and possessing highly desirable skills and good social networks. It is not always just a higher salary that pulls in a needed talent, although a low salary makes it more difficult. Those already in what head- hunters call a “happy place” in terms of job satisfaction, pay, and peer recognition will be loath to move to another company unless it belongs to that mystical category of employer of choice.
One of the simplest ways to tell if a company has achieved the status of instant recognizability and respect is when informing others of where one works. If the interrogator is not ordinarily plugged into the corporate world, like a reclusive maiden aunt or grandmother, but still greets the information of one’s employer with some familiarity, then that is a good sign of having landed a job with an employer of choice. And if friends and peers with admiration if not envy, then one is in a happy place.
Still, blue-chip companies have been undertaking waves of retrenchment to reduce their overhead, and improve their “underfoot” or productivity measured in such metrics as net income per employee. Thus, those once categorized as employers of choice have become fortresses withstanding daily assaults by walk-in applicants. They may as well put up signs like some restaurants do against pets — job-seekers keep out.
Another direction taken by these revered companies is to sub-contract and outsource an assortment of clerical, blue-collar, low-skill jobs they once hired directly. The previous occupants of such positions have already been declared redundant and may themselves be looking for new jobs.
This once coveted and obligatory attribute of the company brand as employer of choice has been dropped from the list of “mission-critical” goals. Even companies trumpeting the clichè that “people are our most important assets” (next to bulletin boards and paper clips) are now shifting their attention to numbers which analysts look at. These have to do with free cash flow ratio to debt servicing, profitability, product lines, market share, and possible risks and “black swans.” Unfortunately, people have been lumped not with assets any more, but with overhead cost, something that is begging to be trimmed.
Maybe, the employer of choice has acquired a new meaning for the job seeker. It is the employer that decides to choose him. Even when it has inadequate washrooms, a company that likes you is easy to like in return… until something better turns up.