The price of maturity

Philippe Riboton

RECRUITERS and HR specialists all remember back in 1993, when an IT company was advertising a managerial position that boasted a seven-digit yearly gross salary. At the time, it sounded like a myth; the kind of figure nobody would ever see in his entire life. Ten years later, seven-digit annual gross salaries are quite common for Czech managers, particularly among foreign-owned companies. This stems mainly from the banking and IT industries setting the employment market on fire. In the telecom sector it seemed for a moment that the sky was the limit, and as banks fell one after the other into foreign hands, a desperate hunt ensued for the scarce talent that had experience with international companies. Now, for the last year or so, it seems like this phenomenon has leveled off, as most companies are now fully staffed. The explosion of the Internet/Telco bubble, together with the global economic recession and the downturn in the world stock markets have sent the clear signal that the “golden era” is over. One source of evidence for this is the remarkable rise in global unemployment – reaching an average 10%, according to the latest data. Even more unprecedented is the number of bright managerial profiles currently stymied in their efforts to find a new job that would offer compensation approaching the last position they enjoyed. Sure, companies have made their overall packages more sophisticated, compounding material benefits with such non-material benefits as company contributions to life insurance plans or to lifestyle/education benefits like language courses or MBA programs. Unfortunately, in most cases the motto of the day is “salary freeze”, so professional job shoppers are no longer able to jump from one company to another, in an effort to boost their salary by a few hundred or thousand crowns. Nor are greedy managers as likely to put a V8 leather-clad limousine on their list of expectations. This is certainly bad news for some, but it’s also the long-awaited sign that the Czech employment market has reached maturity. Finally.

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