Race against Time in the Job Market

The route leading to the labour market is one which we have all taken and is well familiar to most of us. Our experiences may vary but a common theme which describes the job market is its unsavoury nature.

Depending on which side of the market you are, blames are heaped on the other party. Recruiters are always on the receiving and get a lot of bashing from job seekers on one hand while job seekers are seen as not having the right skills and attitude for available jobs from the recruiters’ perspective.

As the blame game goes back and forth, I discovered a unique factor working for or against the two parties. The factor of time is an essential element of the recruiting process which works for or against the recruiter and the job seeker.

Getting a vacant position filled within a given period is vital to any recruiter while job seekers also compete against time to get their applications out in record time. How the two parties react to the time factor may vary but it has a consequential effect on the outcome. Some job seekers do not wait to understand the role being advertised before sending their applications. Employers or recruiters are often overwhelmed by the number of CVs they receive for advertised positions that they sometime come up with wrong fits.

The two key players in recruitment market have devised different means to beat the constraint of time. Job seekers now have ‘customised’ CVs for numerous job roles. This allows them to apply for more than one job at at given time and more importantly beating the deadline. Recruiters on the other hand, are embracing technology to help in filtering through CVs for qualified candidates. It is also a common practice for recruiters to contact only qualified candidates for the next stage of the process. This is all in a bid to save time.

It is however contestable if these time-saving methods have helped the entire recruitment process. Customised CVs might not indicate specific skills required for some particular roles and could hinder candidate’s chances of proceeding to the next stage. Some job applications are quite extensive and require patience and time to get by them; using a customised CV for such applications could jeorpadise the chances of candidates.

Recruiters and employers are not only in the job market to just recruit anybody but to be able to attract a pool of skilled and qualified hands to select from. This can be achieved if job seekers are treated with respect and dignity. Giving critical feedback to all candidates, whether successful or not, makes employers become ’employers of choice’.

Whichever way one looks at it, time is a tricky element in the job market. Consequently, it is important for all players to strike a balance in the race against time. How they achieve this depends on the industry, immediacy or futuristic role, and other important details of the recruitment industry.

Bashir Mudi Baba can be reached on Twitter @El_De_Bash

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December: The Season of Temp Jobs

The month of December is always a busy one for the HR unit of most companies. It is the period when workplace activities are reviewed yearlong and manpower planning for the coming year is drawn up. It is also the yuletide season when employees go on vacation to celebrate with families and loved ones. Consequently, vacant positions open up albeit temporarily which leaves the HR unit scrambling for people to fill up the spaces.

In the spirit of the season, companies are also involved in charity activities and other special projects. For most high retail stores, they are always a beehive of activities as shoppers swarm about in search of best deals. In order to cope with the hordes of shoppers, additional hands are always sought during December sales.

December is a month which shoppers look forward to. People have worked hard all through the year and saved up enough money for the holiday season. In order to take advantage of this great opportunity, companies normally embark on massive advertisements and marketing which sometimes take the form of roadshows and other carnival-like activities. Temporary employees are always needed to partake in these events.

It is imperative that job seekers make the best out of these opportunities. Experience acquired from temporary jobs will form part of curriculum-vitae and recruiters are ever keen to hire candidates with work experience. More so, it is a chance of making some quick bucks which could make the holiday season a memorable one. Picking up a new shirt or taking that dream lady out for a dinner won’t be a bad idea.

On several occasions, people who took up temporary jobs have been retained on those jobs. It is unthinkable that young school graduates reject temporary jobs in anticipation of permanent ones that are not forthcoming. How about starting with a temp job and proving your worth. How about putting to use those skills you acquired in school before they go out of trend. Temp jobs pave the way for more permanent ones and should be grabbed at the first opportunity.

Good luck in your job search and wishing you all a happy holiday season.

Bashir Mudi Baba can be engaged on Twitter via @El_De_Bash    

Outsourcing and Contract Jobs: Another Milking Strategy?

It does not require any rocket science to realise that the world is changing. This change has permeated through every sphere of human endeavour and the world of work is not left out. The advent of technology and the increasing demand of customers have given rise to a whole new bouquet of job portfolios. How people are recruited to fill up the new job positions has also given rise to different kinds of employment contracts and recruitment strategies.

Top on the list of available strategies to recruiters is how to get the best hands at a minimum cost to the company. This is sometimes done by analysing various job roles and how important they are to the core business. Jobs requiring highly skilled personnel and which are germane to the actualisation of business goals are prioritised by most companies. Even when the selection process is contracted out to a recruiting firm, the successful candidates are employed as core staffs. In this instance, the employment contract will include salaries, allowances and other benefits.

However, jobs requiring minimal skills are often outsourced to other companies. The outsourcing contract works in a kind of round-about way. An outsourcing company sources for workers for a company that needs some positions filled. Workers’ salaries are not paid directly by the company they work for. They are paid by their employers, the outsourcing company which in turn would have been paid by the parent organisation.

On paper, outsourcing appears to be a simple business arrangement between companies that supply and require workers for its operations.  Dynamics of this arrangement is often shrouded in mystery as workers are left at the receiving end of the transaction. Salaries are sometimes shared equally between an outsourcing company and its employees. As far as the sharing formula is not tampered with, working conditions of the employees at their assigned posts are overlooked.

Last Saturday, I was contracted to conduct a training session to a group of outsourced workers. During the course of the session, I discovered none of the trainees got a dime for transportation, accommodation and feeding to attend the training. Some of the participants travelled a distance of over 300 miles by road to get to the venue of the training. That is like travelling from London to Edinburgh and all at their own expense!

Another revelation was that there is disconnect between the outsourced and core employees. The outsourced staffs were often reminded of their status within the organisation by the core staffs. Not minding that their role is as well important to the overall success of the organisation, the outsourced employees were always scorned at. Of course, I stated all these in my report but whether they will be addressed is a question I have no answer to.

While it is too simplistic to use this singular incident as a basis to criticise outsourcing, it is enough to have a re-evaluation of the concept. I quite understand that the harsh business conditions have necessitated businesses to redefine their recruitment strategies. In order to stay afloat, companies are seeking ways of reducing personnel costs and one of such is to outsource or give contract employment. However, it should be done in the most ethical ways.

Let me also point out that companies do adopt outsourcing strategy for other reasons and not necessarily for cost-cutting measures.  A company may secure a business deal in a country far away from its operational base and may be exorbitantly prohibitive to move workers. In this scenario, it makes a lot of business sense to seek outsourced workers. It is also wise to give out contract jobs when working on projects with short or fixed terms. Whichever recruitment strategy a company decides to adopt, it should be people-focused and every other thing will fall into place.

Bashir Mudi Baba can be engaged on Twitter via handle @El_De_Bash              

SIR ALEX FERGUSON’S RETIREMENT: THE HR PERSPECTIVE

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Most people will be wondering what HR has got to do with football but by the time you are done reading this piece you will appreciate their relatedness. It is now cliché to describe the field of Human Resources as traversing all units of every organisation and across industries. The football industry has evolved into a money-spinning venture and is attracting investments in multitudes of billions of pounds across the globe. One of the leading clubs in Europe, Manchester United, recently announced the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson (SAF), its Manager of twenty seven years. The news was received with great shock within the footballing world and beyond. Sportsmen and even Politicians have paid tribute to the most successful Manager in Britain. Since the news broke out, analysts across various disciplines have been busy discussing the implications of SAF’s retirement on the club.

Economists and Financial analysts were quick to notice the plunge in the opening value of Manchester United’s shares at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the very day the news was confirmed by the club. Although, the stocks later recovered but it did dip by 1.76% from £12.08 to £11.87 at the end of Thursday’s trading. This is an indication that Investment Bankers will be busy making projections on the value of the club’s shares for the nearest time to come. Analyses on managerial change should not be limited to Sports journalists and financial experts but it also has far reaching implications for the study and practice of Human Resource Management (HRM). Putting it succinctly, it is purely the prerogative of HR practitioners and this is what this piece sets out to prove.

It is no longer news that fellow Scot, David Moyes has been appointed to replace Ferguson.  The swiftness at which this appointment was carried out suggests a succession plan was already in place. Laying credence to this claim was Sir Alex himself, when he said he made up his mind to leave since December due to a family bereavement. However, it is plausible to say that the plan has long been hatched before this date. This can be deduced from the reason I gave earlier; the speed at which the whole succession was managed and executed and the open admiration of David Moyes’ exploits at Everton.  Sir Alex Ferguson has this to say about his would-be-successor:

“I’ve admired for a long time and approached him as far back as 1998 to discuss the position of assistant manager here. He was a young man then at the start of his career and has since gone on to do magnificent job at Everton”

Traditionally in HR, succession planning is identifying individuals from within and preparing them to take up key positions in the future. One would have expected players like Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes to succeed SAF having played under the Manager all through their careers spanning about two decades. This would have paved way for continuity because these two players represent everything about the club. However, the club decided to appoint an external candidate in the person of David Moyes. It is important to stress here that in the contemporary business world, talents are mostly sought externally as demonstrated by Manchester United. The bright side to this is that fresh ideas and new skills are injected into organisations that recruit externally for leadership positions. Let me also sound a note of caution, it is imperative to strike a balance between internal and external labour markets. I would advise the incoming Manager to work with Mike Phelan and Rene Meulenstein, Ferguson’s two assistants.

The import of my suggestion is fuelled by the often negative reception to change by employees. It will aid rapid transition of David Moyes into the club and also douse any misgivings that may arise as a result of the managerial change. It is acknowledged that change is a slow process while football is a result-oriented game. These two contrasting descriptions are to be aligned. In order to hasten up the change process and starts turning out impressive results, the incoming Manager needs the support of everyone (Players, Physios, Fans, and Board etc.). A call stressed by Ferguson. Garnering support of all and sundry in his new role is hinged on effective change management. Change has been described by Hayes as “punctuated equilibrium paradigm”. It is what I call ‘unsettling the waters’.  Lewin’s Field theory postulates three stages of change which include Unfreezing, Movement and Refreezing.

Unfreezing involves analysing the need for change and unlocking the resistance to change. This can be done by disseminating the benefits to be derived if change becomes a reality. It is certain to all why Ferguson is stepping aside; apart from old age, he cited family reasons. The second step is moving to a new level in terms of behaviour and beliefs which precede implementation of change. Refreezing involves re-enacting a new equilibrium state and putting in place supporting structures to make the change an enduring one. The latter two stages can only come into effect when David Moyes takes charge. He needs to get the support of his players by setting high but achievable standards. Surpassing the great feats of Ferguson may sound too ambitious but sustaining the club’s dominance in the English League and showing strong presence in Europe are the yardsticks by which Moyes’s performance will be measured. These would also determine the effectiveness of the managerial change.

While some analysts have questioned the choice of David Moyes as a replacement for Ferguson, it is assumed his competencies have been evaluated by the club. Succession planning is directly linked to competency frameworks but whether Moyes’ competencies will lead to more League titles, better performance in Champions League and beautiful style of play for the club, we will have to wait a little. Despite not winning any trophy to show for his eleven years stay at Everton and being inexperienced in Europe, the new coach is a believer in youth system and has transformed the Goodison Park’s team from relegation strugglers into a first eight team in England. These modest achievements fit into some but not all of Manchester United’s strategies. The limited budget at his disposal may have been responsible for his moderate performance. That was Everton, this is Manchester United!

Manchester United has consistently topped Forbes top ten richest clubs ranking for nine years until it was dethrone to second position by Real Madrid this year. Under Ferguson’s watch, the club has won thirteen Premier League Championships, two European Cups and five FA Cups! The stakes are really high but not surmountable. Moyes has an assembly of skilful players at his disposal and a little tweak of the team with one or two signings will bring about the desired results. Football Management is about managing players for success which is the nucleus of human resource management.

 Bashir Mudi Baba can be reached @El_De_Bash on Twitter