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Everyone, including myself, propagates that one should plan, monitor, and control her/his career. In the same breath, we say that one should stick to an organization to get recognized and upgraded. Then there are others who say it all depends on luck, nothing else. For the latter, no logic can be given though at times it seems that luck has prevailed over competence and performance. Given this uncertain situation, how can one gain control over career evolution? We shall examine these questions in this and the next couple of posts. For now, here is a comparison of public and private sector jobs.
Public sector is the largest employer in Pakistan. It includes the government departments, ministries, secretariats, thousands of educational institutions and their directorates, thousands of medical institutions and their controlling organizations, large number of authorities such as WAPDA, PTA, PEMRA, DRAP, TDAP, OGRA etc., public sector corporations doing various kinds of businesses, provincial and central superior services, and so on. Armed forces, and law enforcing agencies are also public sector organizations. The process of climbing the ladder is fairly well spelled out, there are assessments, confidential reports, learning courses, education improvement, etc. The career track is defined along with related compensation, perks, and benefits. The time frames usually fixed, and one does have to spend x number of years at every step to keep moving up. The top slot usually comes at the end of the career, if at all it comes.
Public sector employees are usually happy on account of benefits, particularly long-term benefits like retirement benefits, but they are unhappy about career development and compensation in present times. Despite the unhappiness, more people desire to get government jobs. I have interviewed hundreds of young people for private sector jobs, and many of them said they wanted to do a government job but could not, and they were forced to seek employment in private sector. To the question why they wanted to do government job, the answer was straight forward, ‘you don’t have much work to do there’. It is a sad commentary that young people are looking for jobs where there is little or no work. Talk to a long serving government employee, or a recently retired one, and they will fill you in on the hazards and hassles of government jobs. Government jobs, where opportunity of speed money is present, are considered plum jobs and people vie for it with all their might, money, and influence.
Career evolution in public sector is at two levels. At the junior level, starting from attendant/naib qasid or lower division clerk to upper division clerk to superintendent, the career crawls slowly and ends not too high for most people. Some may get extraordinary chance and get to the next cadre. Officers in government department usually come through competitive exams; provincial – PCS, or central – CSS. They start at grade 16 or 17 and can hope to grow to grade 22; the time taken is a lifetime.
Performance assessment, as mentioned above, is done, but it takes connections and sponsorship from seniors to get elevated. Competence and performance are important, and help to further career, but these must be made to be noticed.
Job security is the most important feature of public sector jobs. Even after the due process of separation is applied, the aggrieved employee can go to court(s) and get reinstated, no matter how much time it may take, and can get the arrears for the period he was out of job. This is another reason for low performance in public sector.
I could write more about public sector jobs, but the point is made, and we can go on to private sector.
Private and public sector jobs have several things in common, such as relevant qualification, experience, job knowledge, but the trajectories differ greatly.
Career growth in private sector is faster because it does not have to follow strict timelines at each position. Extraordinary performance can bring extraordinary growth. The career growth may also stall at any position if performance is compromised. Compensation also does not follow any of the government pay scale, and benefits and perks at senior positions are quite lucrative.
Compensation disparity is very high in both sectors; the difference between the lowest and the highest is so huge that it seems unbelievable. The ultra-high pay packages of CEOs had been under discussion in the USA also, though nothing came out of it.
It is relatively easier to get a job in private sector because the hiring continues due to new openings or movement of employees. However, the only job security is consistent performance.
Several years ago, international publications like Harvard, Mckinsey, promoted the idea of getting one or more mentors, who would help in wholesome professional development which will help in career growth. More recently, it is said that mentoring may not be enough; you also need a sponsor to advance your career. Please note that a mentor may be inside the organization or working elsewhere, but a sponsor is a senior person within the organization who would ensure that you are pitched at the right places to grow your career. So, it is performance, mentoring and sponsorship. We may say that private sector is not entirely free from sifarish, but generally it is. Performance is always critical, and need for performance deters hiring and elevating incompetent, unqualified people.
What should the young people seeking job should do? If you are desirous of going into some specific service cadre, do work hard to get it. Remember however, the compulsions which come with these jobs.
For all others, seek private sector jobs, you will learn more, and earn more; grow fast, and enjoy perks.
Concluded.Disclaimer: Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images and Pexels. Credit is given where known; some do not show copyright ownership. However, if a claim is lodged at any stage, we shall either mention the ownership clearly, or remove the picture with suitable regrets.