IMAGE: Paul Paladin — 123RF

Reinterpreting the job market…

An ambitious study about job profiles and CVs at well-established technology companies (valued at a minimum $100 billion and with more than a decade on the markets) or disruptive (valued in excess of $10 billion and with an IPO over the last 10 years) shatters the myth that the majority of people working in Silicon Valley did not finish university: if you want to work there, you better have a good qualification from a prestigious institution.

The conclusion of the survey is that education plays a very important role in obtaining a job in the technology field, considered by many the ideal destination. More than 20% of the workforce has at least one Master’s (at Amazon and Snap the figure is 36%), and many companies employ large numbers of Ph.Ds. (16% at Google, followed by Airbnb with 12% and Facebook with 11%).

In 2013, Google argued that there was no correlation between university degrees and professional competence. But while it is possible that grades are not the whole story in determining the merits of a candidate for a position, everything indicates that holding the relevant qualification is, and that technology companies do not tend to hire people more on the basis of their abilities than on what their CV says.

At the same time, the labor market is increasingly a world of butterflies: Nowadays, it is common for people to work for a number of companies over their careers. Years ago, this would have labeled you as potentially conflictive or problematic. However, in the current job market, with a tendency to treat employees as short-term assets, people learn to consider companies as simple steps along the way, from which they must try to extract everything: money, learning, skills and reputation. Each position and each company is merely preparation for the next. The market is the only arbiter of whether we are being correctly valued or not.

We have gone from valuing a job on factors such as salary, benefits, location, schedule, type of boss, peers or promotion possibilities, to seeing it almost exclusively in terms of the preparation for our next job, which typically will be in a different company. Working for an outfit like Google is a goal and an important bit of your CV in terms of prestige, but the market is full of people whose supposed value is to be ex-Googlers, to have left the company, and the same applies to many others. These days, having worked for different companies, as long as there is a clear pattern, makes sense, whereas having stayed with the same employer for a long time can be seen as reflecting a lack of ambition or not having the skills required to diversify.

What are we to make of a labor market where you not only have to have the right qualifications but be prepared to find a new position every couple of years? We’re going to need to be vigilant, studying the market and the professional social networks and RSS feeds of companies that interest us. For companies, the increasingly urgent need to invest not only in attracting talent, but also, and actively, to retain that talent, which will be tempted by offers from other firms. We can expect much more dynamic markets where a CV is a work in progress, and where movement is part of a constant strategy to fill the appropriate gaps based on skills or preparation.

Labor markets are changing, requiring change at all levels. How has this affected you, either as employee or employer?

(En español, aquí)