The changing environment of the job market

The changing environment of the job market

In the past several years, the landscape of the working market has changed dramatically. For students and graduates, it means being chained to annual contract renewals and a lack of job security. For the middle aged, it means increased unemployment rate and lack of insurance and future pension funds. Complaints have been thrown around at the governments inability to take care of its citizens. The harshness of the competition in the job market has caused a major concern in the mindset of the working people. Comparison has been made with historical mechanics and the moral and values that were associated with sympathetic employments. In simple English, if you were willing to work, there will be a job available to you. The question remains the same even in present day: Is working hard still good enough for society?

The job market changes. It’s not an uncommon sight. Like the economy, a market and adjusts its demand and supply according to the situation. When the economic crisis hit in 2008, the media presented the public with a whole new aspect of what was about to come:

That long-term employment no longer guaranteed dedication and quality production.

People brand the recent changes in the job market as something negative. This is nothing more than natural. Humans dislike change for a reason. We spend time getting used to new environments. We learn all the ins-and-outs and we specialize in it. That is the natural process of mental and human understanding. To change means that we have to reset our learning curve and venture into the unknown. The unknown brings uncertainty. Uncertainty means discomfort – out of the box – it means that there will be factors we cannot control. That is why we don’t like it. However, let’s look at it from a different perspective. What exactly was the cause of this change? In order to find the most suitable candidates, several methods are utilized to minimize the risk of misemployment.

1) A sophisticated hiring process
2) An organizational training and mentoring program
3) Internships and headhunting
4) Creating flexible contracts

A solid hiring process runs on several levels. The executive level should focus on finding a leader with strong skills in resource efficiency. The management level needs a good guidance officer, while employees need to be good performers. It all sounds very logical yet organizations continuously fail to recognize the appropriate traits within people and instead maintain their sights on historic performances in unrelated categories. The fact that a person can become the best salesman does not necessarily translate to good management abilities. Unfortunately, financial incentives are traditionally capped on each respective position in the organization and thus making long-term commitment not an ideal career choice.

Training and mentoring programs requires dedicated planning by already fully occupied employees. They are human investments with little short-term financial returns. That is why it can be an uninspiring aspect to focus on inside an established organization. However, if soccer was any indication, it is much cheaper to train young prospects than it is to purchase new ones. Training and mentoring requires process mentoring. To dedicate time to address such issues or perhaps even hire educators may not always be a luxury that that companies can afford.

Internships is a very profitable business for companies. It means companies can hire fresh ambitious children or young adults for an extremely low (and sometimes even non-existent) rate. Qualification is simply dependent on academic records and extracurricular activities. All they would cost is several cups of coffee. Headhunting, however, is almost like the extreme opposite. To attract people with a certain combination of skills requires a contractual upgrade to the existing agreement with their present companies. Although a very ideal concept, it is not always that perfect in practice.

Finally we get to flexible contracts. They are 12-to-18-month y contracts that is renewed annually. It allows companies to re-evaluate employee performance without being unnecessarily tied down. Doing this on a regular basis keeps the employees on their toes, but it will only provide the company several years to consider the possibility of acquisition. Of course this system can be abused in practice, but given that it operates under ideal circumstances it can work for both parties. Laws in first world countries typically provide a limit of three years of contract renewals before a more permanent contract is to be provided to the employees.

As luxurious as it may seem for the corporate side, it also serves as a kind reminder for all job seekers that jobs are not simply a money-shedding part of one’s to-do list.

Why is it that we are looking for a job? Every graduate student looks for jobs for several reasons. To build a solid career with an impressive resume, to work with purpose and follow the dreams they wish to chase, enjoy a pleasurable work environment with like-minded people and to be acknowledged for the work and effort they put in. Ideally that was always the case. Yet research has shown that the average lifespan of a first graduate job is about 1.5 to 2 years. So what is the problem?

Theoretically speaking, where there’s a demand, there should be a decent supply to support it. However, the competitiveness in the market and the academic inflation over the years has segregated the demand in such way that simply having a degree has become insufficient. Instead, fresh graduates are required to perform quantifiable extracurricular activities and referable internships among others. The standards seems to be set at an extraordinary height, but it is a sign that perhaps we should start thinking about our careers earlier than we are generally used to: after we graduate from university.

The hints are clear that the traditional mindset of a graduate needs to change. No longer should we expect to maintain the same position for the next 40-50 years and we really shouldn’t want to be. This is why (semi-) annual goals need to be set when one begins working. There are a certain set of skills that need to be learned or a salary that needs to be achieved. After that, you should either be looking for a promotion or a job elsewhere. If companies don’t expect to hire you on the long-term, neither should you be looking to stay as long. It may not be recommended to keep jumping ship, but neither is it profitable to stay in non-developing position. It provides safety, yes, but being a graduate means you are at the age where risk-taking is endorsed. As you are looking to settle down, that’s when you should consider holding onto a position that allows you enough growth and yet gives you enough incentive to stay.

As qualifications begin to even out and further education past a postgraduate degree lose value, hard work, dedication and sincerity revives on the work floor. This is apparent as companies seek to cleanse the work force from the unmotivated. Salespeople who are awaiting for calls to just arrive during their work hours and instead are surfing the web for entertaining videos are no longer welcome as they should be. There is overwhelming evidence that companies are firing large amount of employees and providing attractive severance packages for those who are no longer interested in working under the same environment. Companies wish to start fresh with employees who believe in the companies goals and motives and are willing to work hard to support that idea.

If you are one of the people looking to find a new job, I suggest you look for a company that will allow you to best showcase your skills and yet allows gives you the ability to reach a set of goals that you wish to improve on. An ideal for both parties and even with a (limited) lack of recommended qualifications, there are times when recruiters are willing to overlook that.

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