When I arrived at
After Thompson left, I took on more and more responsibilities. Instead of hiring a new person, I wanted to work with my partner, Rosson. I believed that we could handle the work load of our fired colleague. As I got into gear what exactly the job needed, I was able to create different processes and make our efforts more efficient. Within a couple of weeks, we were completely up and running…effectively doing a 3 person job with 2 people.
In the past month, something interesting has happened. After the Chinese New Year, the toy industry effectively starts preparing for the next selling cycle. We have begun a large marketing campaign to develop tons of new projects. This year we were projecting to do130 new projects compared to only 45 last year. This effectively means that the 2 of us have to not only manage a 3 person job, but are now doing 3x the amount of new projects as before. Quite a challenge, ill say.
Realizing the potential need for extra man-power, our higher up management told me in early February that we were going to add 2 project engineers into my department. More than 2 months later, we still don't have any extra people hired. In turn, I’ve been juggling more than 2x the amount of work I’ve had previously.
A week ago, we had a few people go through the interview process. A female graduate student and a male college graduate came in. I was mostly ignorant of the whole thing. For some reason, I had been no role in their interview process or decision of future project engineers (even though I was going to be their boss…???).
After being somewhat confused and having a feeling of disrespect, I approached our COO (a relatively Americanized Chinese with good English skills who used to did my job a year ago) who was spearheading this search: This interaction was spoken in Chinese
Me: Hey [COO], what’s going on with the search? We’re getting swamped over here with all of the increased work load.
COO: It’s going. We interviewed a couple of people last week and really liked a girl. She came in, did the interview thing and we liked her. Before we could sign all the paperwork, we got hung up with her salary requirements…so we didn't hire her.
Me: Oh really? Do you think it will be resolved?
COO: I don't really know…we’ll see.
Me: I was wondering, for future interviewees, can I have an opportunity to sit down and talk to them for a while. Since the members of this department are going to work extremely close with any future hire, I want to have a feel for the abilities and personality before they are hired.
COO: 不用了, 要不行就让他走. (Translation: No need, if he/she is not good, we’ll just ask them to leave [aka fire him/her])
Our factory boss’s response surprised me incredibly. I originally had the notion that there was a sense of disrespect towards me in not letting me have a say of who I was going to have work under me. Instead, by his statement, all feelings of disrespected disappeared. It was replaced with amazement.
When I went through the job search as a senior in college, I developed (what I think is) a pretty clear perception of the relationship between the employee and the company. I feel that companies look at their hires as investments, or human capital. These individuals, with their skills and potential have the capabilities to help the company with their knowledge, ideas, know-how, ect. with proper training from the company. Since a lot of time, energy and money is spent on training these people so they can succeed in the future, companies try their absolute hardest to make sure the candidate is as strong as possible. This is why there are multiple rounds of interviews and extensive review processes at most places.
I admit that our company isn’t the big corporation with tons of resources for hiring people. I do think, however, that there are a lot of small things that can be done to do a thorough job of whatever we can to make sure anyone new will be successful here. If it is so easy for the company COO, who is relatively westernized, to say…hey, if it doesn't work out, we’ll just let him/her go, then he definitely has a different understanding of what human capital is.
Colleges and its Graduates
A couple of weeks have gone by and still nothing. The previous candidates who were possibilities were not able to resolve their contract negotiations…meaning I’m stuck with an overflow of work in a relatively quiet time in product development.
Seeing a potential for “disaster” if we didn't get someone in here soon, I have recently made a revived push for locating new hires. I have talked to the HR department, their boss, my boss, the COO of the factory, just about everyone I can think of to help in this pursuit of someone new. If we don't get this person soon, we won’t have enough time to train him/her for the next round of high demands and tight deadlines.
After talking to the HR department, I realized that we could change our description of skills/requirements so that more people would apply. Currently, we’re requesting college graduates who have backgrounds in engineering and a high aptitude in English. As an Mechanical Engineering graduate, I can say that technical knowledge and background isn’t as essential to the job as English skills are. I think that if we found anyone with a good English background, they could successfully learn the more technical stuff on the job.
I approached the COO about this and he said he would consider it and see if we could find more people to come in for interviews. We then had an interesting conversation about the state of the Chinese job market. Again, this conversation was spoken in Chinese.
COO: Did you know that we have been trying to find good candidates for project engineering jobs consistently for the past 2 years? It is really difficult to find good prospects.
Me: Wow. Is that true? What about the millions of jobless college graduates I keep reading about in the media?
COO: That population isn’t reliable. Colleges and Universities are everywhere and more and more people are going to them. However, it is hard to judge what these students learned when they were there. While these graduates have questionable academic backgrounds, they are also demanding higher-paying jobs and more respect from possible employers because… they graduated from college and they spent a lot of money there. We’ve interviewed 50 people since December. As you can see, none of them have been hired.
Me: I guess we’ll see what happens with the change in job requirements then. Hopefully we’ll have more people coming in for interviews when we change it.
COO: I don't know if it will be successful. If someone is good in English, they have a higher likelihood to work for one of the big western corporations that are expanding into
Higher education in
Affluent students who don't score high enough on the national college entrance exam to get into the school on merit can then go to a good university. They are considered “private” students and pay higher tuition. Through all of this, it is still unclear if there is an academic standard of the separate schools or a governing body who monitors and accredits it. Of course, not all of these schools are bad, but the current practices are chaotic without conformity in standards.
I don't know who knows about this in the western media. I do know that there are countless and reoccurring stories about college students not finding jobs. This is probably one of the causes.
With this understanding in the questionable quality of the Chinese graduate, I think it’s even more important to push them through a detailed and involved interview process. I don't know if the other managers see it that way.
That being said… what matters is that I still don't have another project engineer working under me. Therefore, it is becoming more and more apparent that I will be overloaded at work for the foreseeable future.