Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Job Market Structure and Hiring Practices

Conducting an effective job search aimed at the international arena is often difficult to do given the overall structure of the international job market. The international employment arena is extremely decentralized and fragmented, and information on organizations and job vacancies is difficult to access.

Nonetheless, with some basic information on the structure of the job market as well as a few leads on how to contact organizations and access job vacancy information, you will be well on your way to bringing some structure, coherence, and effectiveness to this job market. In other words, its best to first understand the structure of the international job market in order to best handle the process of finding a job within the structure.

Job searches in general tend to follow the structure of particular job markets. In the United States, the domestic job market is also highly decentralized, fragmented, and chaotic. While information on organizations and job vacancies in the U.S. is at best incomplete, you do find numerous directories on organizations and many services are available to assist you with a domestic job search.

These range from executive search firms to public employment agencies, from classified ads in newspapers and trade journals to job listing services, job banks, and resume marketing services. Furthermore, it is a relatively open job market for enterprising job seekers who can easily network for job leads and apply directly for jobs within a single community. Within a short period of time you can position yourself well within this decentralized yet fairly open job market.

The biggest difficulty comes when trying to conduct a long-distance job search campaign which may involve traveling, for example, between Chicago and Los Angeles to develop job leads and interview for jobs. The logistics of conducting a part-time job search by telephone, letters, and periodic travel to another community lessens one's overall job search effectiveness when compared to a full-time job search involving frequent face-to-face informational interviews in a single community.

The international employment arena is extremely decentralized and fragmented, and information on organizations and job vacancies is difficult to access.

The structure of the international job market is even more decentralized and fragmented than the domestic U.S. job market. More importantly, it tends to be, closed to outsiders. The implications of this decentralized and closed job market are many for international job seekers. It argues for job search strategies that will best organize international job vacancy information and help penetrate what appears to be essentially a closed system to outsiders.

The following characteristics of the international job market should be kept in mind when formulating the most effective job search strategies that will be responsive to the decentralized and closed nature of the market:

  1. Unless promoted from within an organization and transferred abroad with little or no international skills and experience, most international jobs require specific types of international skills and experience beyond basic travel and language competency.

  2. Job changes, career advancement, and patterns of employment within the international arena tend to involve movement between many jobs as well as a great deal of job-hopping, uncertainty, anxiety, and frustration.

  3. The best international jobs are found at home rather than abroad.

  4. This may appear to be a contradiction in logic, but it is the case more often than not. Job vacancies tend to be announced and the recruitment process initiated at the headquarters level. The field, which is where the job is performed abroad, is where qualified candidates will be assigned, but not necessarily from where they will be hired. As a result, most hiring for international positions is done in New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Your job search will primarily involve networking for contacts with the headquarters staff as well as traveling to these U.S. cities rather than making a trip abroad in search of job vacancies with field offices.

  5. Many international firms also have a bias toward hiring from headquarters rather than finding qualified candidates in the field.

  6. Indeed, this becomes a major problem for international job seekers who are already living and working abroad. Many mistakenly feel they are the best qualified for local jobs because of their physical presence, knowledge of the local situation, and their superior language capabilities and extensive contacts within the local business and government communities. Such logic, however, is countered with another more

    Living and working abroad for several years without recharging one's skills and intellect is not necessarily a positive qualification.

  7. International job vacancy information is poorly communicated through traditional information sources, such as publications and job listing services.

  8. Given the poor dissemination of international job information as well as the high demand for ostensibly glamorous international jobs, some fly-by-night and fraudulent international or overseas job finding services that require up-front fees still operate and prey on naive individuals who don't know any better.

  9. The most interesting, well paid, and easiest international jobs to find and perform tend to be with organizations that operate within the larger international arena rather than with domestic organizations that only operate in a single country.

Many international job seekers still believe they can travel directly to a country to look for employment with local organizations. Such trips and job search efforts are often a waste of time and money. The reality is that foreign workers are usually discriminated against in most countries. Indeed, it is very difficult to get directly hired by a local firm because of major legal restrictions on employing foreign workers in jobs that compete with the local labor.

These restrictions include complicated and expensive visas, stringent residency requirements, and hefty local taxes. In some countries you may be able to get a work permit to perform only certain types of jobs over a limited number of months, but the process may take up to one year to get the permit! In other countries, such as the United States, it's virtually impossible to get a work permit unless you have the proper residency documentation.