The Global Enterprise: Knowing where the jobs are

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Jan 30

Look at your job function and skills right now. Then ask yourself this question: what cities on the planet are my job skills going to provide the maximum earnings, greatest career potential, and greatest opportunities to stay working?

Can you name five cities? With at least three of them outside your current country location?

When a company moves to a “global enterprise” approach to operations where job functions are performed in specific global locations, such as IBM has done for their services business, the initial challenge to management modeling this approach is to find the best global location for the function.

Since companies are moving to this global enterprise approach, it means we need to figure out where the jobs are that meet our needs — or suffer the loss of them as companies transition to this model.

One clue to finding the best locations to work for your job skills is to model what IBM has used for criteria to find the best location for their operational functions in the first place.

The critical categories of decision-making used by IBM are:

Country Cost

While a company is looking for the “low cost” option for their location, as a worker, I’m looking for the “highest paying” location that provides value to companies.

In other words, if you’ve already made your retirement money, go live in a “low cost” country that will allow you to extend your retirement. But, if you haven’t you need to go where the money is located.

Available Talent

A company wants a good talent pool to select from for their function being performed there. It makes good sense for workers to follow this philosophy as well. If there are thousands of employees performing your skill set in a particular city, then it is more likely that you will be able to find jobs in that location as well. There are other risks to this approach (e.g., you go to an oil town and oil finally hits a recession…), but the idea is to be where people are that share your talents.

Educational Pipelines

Companies look at this for schooling and potential graduates coming out of the educational systems for hiring. Consider the dearth of software engineers coming out of college in the United States versus software engineers coming out of India. More potential hires with more engineers for an engineering function.

Likewise, to improve our careers through training and education, we need to evaluate where that training can easily be obtained.

Languages spoken

Companies look for many languages spoken in a country (more countries of their clients can be serviced from a single location).

As a worker, you are pretty limited to going to places that speak your native or second fluent language.

Proximity to markets

If the market your company’s product serves is in Europe, it makes less sense to locate operations in Omaha, Nebraska, than to locate operations in Europe.

Likewise, you should be looking at how you serve your customer and get as close to that customer as you can. Customer relationships still count.

Political Stability

Companies need stable political systems in order to operate, though the risk level tolerated is higher in some industries than others (e.g., oil).

You need a stable political system in order to work as well.

Now, you might think this sounds just like standard job searches with a couple of funky additions. It’s not. This is trying to determine where in the world (literally) you would be best served to work.

If you are an attorney, licensed in a state of the United States, you are probably limited to working in the United States. But, if you have any corporate passion with job skills, it makes sense to know the locations where that function is being performed by companies so that you can evaluate if you should move there.

If the world’s financial centers are located in New York and London, you’re job skills and passion is into financial functions, then you’d have to seriously consider being there. Or if data center monitoring is your thing, then Bangalore needs to be seriously considered using these factors.

And, frankly, there are few tools to enable that sort of decision-making.

Of course, this is all based upon maximizing your career potential and has nothing to do with the fact that personal matters — your spouse, kids, extended family, current location, and values — significantly impact employment decisions. Only you can factor in those aspects of your work.

Global enterprise operations means workers need to evaluate where on the planet those operations are performed so they can assess the viability of staying or moving to where the action is for their skills.