As controversial as it may be to say it, the reality is that employers have now redefined what it means to be a “qualified candidate.” Historically, that term described a person who met the stated requirements for a job. Today, it means an individual who meets those requirements AND is able to prove that they will excel when doing so.
This new approach is an extension of an old strategy. It mimics the way organizations have always hired their most senior employees. Employers view such individuals and CEOs, in particular, as high impact talent. They need them in order to succeed, and they’re willing to pay to get them.
Since 1976, CEO compensation—not including their benefits and pension—has increased by a breathtaking 223 percent. Today, the leaders of America’s largest companies take home an average of $8 million a year, after adjusting for inflation. And, that figure is going up as the recovery from the recession takes shape, and businesses prepare for growth and the rise in profits it typically generates.
How do companies justify such lofty compensation? What rationale do they offer given that the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported exactly the opposite trend for the rest of the workforce? How can corporate Boards of Directors pimp the worth of CEOs while depressing the wages of their organizations’ non-management workers by 10 percent during the same period?
The explanation can be reduced to a single word: talent. Companies believe that the talent CEOs bring to work each day is both critical to the organization’s success and in critically short supply. They are, in essence, all stars. And, the only way to recruit and retain such individuals is to pay them handsomely. While their tenure on-the-job is no longer guaranteed or even expected to last very long, those who meet or exceed their performance goals will be very well compensated.
In effect, survival of the fittest has been replaced by a new law: “prosperity of the talented.” And today, this neo-Darwinian dictate is no longer limited to those at the most senior levels. It is now percolating down into the middle and even junior ranks of many organizations. Indeed, talent is now viewed as the critical energy source—the clean power—of the 21st Century corporation. Without it, employers cannot move forward. And, those who have the most of it will speed by everyone else in the global marketplace.
Thanks for reading,
Note: The above post was drawn in part from my new book, The Career Activist Republic. To read more, get the book at Amazon.com, in many bookstores and on Weddles.com.