It was not that long ago that a job seeker’s main competition for a position he or she wanted was other candidates in the general area who had similar skills, experience, and perhaps education. Certainly someone might have been willing to move to another area for a particular position, but most candidates for the majority of jobs were those in close proximity to where the employing organization was located.
While there is still some of that scenario playing out for some jobs, many others have changed drastically with regard to where the candidates come from and even where they might stay even if they get the job. The reason? Quantum leaps in communications technology over the past several years have enabled companies and other organizations to seriously consider candidates from anywhere on the globe. This state of affairs is playing out in everything from minimum wage jobs to those that require advanced and/or professional degrees.
- A fast food restaurant has a drive through lane where you can place your order by talking to an unseen attendant, then drive fifty feet to pick it up at the window. What the driver may not know is that the attendant who took the order was on the other side of the world, sitting at a keyboard/order station putting in the details of your order to the food preparer in the front of the building, where you drive up and get your hamburger. The person who took your order may be working for far less than the restaurant might have to pay someone on-site, saving the business a substantial amount in labor costs.
- You want to build your dream house. You have picked out a lot and now you are ready to design the home to fit on your newly-purchased land. Maybe you will talk to a few designers or architects locally, but you hear about an design firm in Mubai, India where the licensed, experienced architects can design your dream home and send the plans to your builder via a quick download from the Internet. You even get to visit the designer face-to-face via Skype, Go-To-Meeting, or some other online meeting tool to express your preferences and requirements. You may save up to one third or one half of the cost of getting the plans drawn up locally.
- While playing a weekend game of football with your kids, you fall and break your arm. So, you go to the hospital emergency room where they take an x-ray of the injury. That digital image can easily be read and the injury diagnosed by a radiologist in another city, state, or country and the information quickly transmitted to your attending physician.
Not only are these scenarios possible, they are already taking place daily in businesses, non-profits, government agencies, and hospitals across the world. Because we now have the ability to transmit information to just about anywhere instantly, it is no longer a requirement to have employees on-site to deliver their work product each day. The list of the types of organizations that can save money by using less expensive labor somewhere else in the world is endless. Sometimes companies do not have to outsource the jobs to save money. It is also possible that they can reduce sales staff that used to travel significantly by having fewer people sitting at a computer screen and conducting “virtual” sales calls on actual clients by using any of the tools that transmit face-to-face audio/video in real time. A few people on a face-to-face connection can cover a lot more ground, a lot faster, and for much less cost than several dozen can accomplish by driving or flying to a customer’s location.
What are the implications? One of them is that if you are in a profession that involves data and/or information transmission, your job can probably be done over the Internet faster and for less cost than it costs the company to pay you to do it on-site. With much of the use of these technology tools still in its infancy, there is still incredible growth ahead for remote contractor or employee utilization.
Certainly there is still significant benefit in having on-site workers who can collaborate, share ideas, and create value for the company and its customers. What it means however, is that you better be really, really good at what you do if you expect to compete with people all over the world who also want that job and who may be willing to do it very well for much less than you demand or expect.
Organizations hire based on the benefit that they perceive will accrue to them by putting someone on the payroll. Your odds for being selected start with having a needed skill, finding a position that is a good fit for what you do very well, and a great marketing plan (resume, cover letter, and interviewing skills) that will put you in the front of the line of those being considered. If you have the skills but do not know how to market yourself, get help from someone who does know and who can guide you through the process. Great job opportunities are too few in number to go after one with less than your best effort. It may be the best investment you will ever make.
By Ken Murdock