Money isn't everything to the modern graduate: Paul Gosling on a job-seeker's guide to employers with a social conscience

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The Independent Online
CONVENTIONAL wisdom has it that in tough times people are grateful for any job they can get. But, according to Sean Hamil, a business analyst and author, job security and a social conscience are more important to today's graduate than getting rich quick.

His book, Britain's Best Employers?, is aimed at that more discerning job-seeker, and compares the practices of top companies on pay and conditions, equality of opportunity and trading policies.

Mr Hamil explained: 'In the late 1980s, when the financial markets were at their peak, over 50 per cent of graduates were leaving their jobs in the first 18 months because they were dissatisfied. Graduate recruitment emphasises money, pensions and benefits, but when you talk to employees, it is the social factors as well that they are interested in.

'People want to know: what is a company's value-added contribution to society? One of the companies I looked at was trying to sell its electronic division at the same time that its graduate recruitment material talked of its long-term future.'

There is a close connection, Mr Hamil said, between a company's financial performance and its attitudes towards its employees and society. 'There was an extraordinary effect from all the borrowing that took place in the 1980s. The companies that are now cutting back on staff and on employment conditions, and not doing anything for the environment, are those that over-borrowed in order to buy other businesses.'

Mr Hamil said he did not want to give advice to job-seekers, but merely try to inform them to assist in their decisions.

'Someone could choose to work for the John Lewis Partnership, which is employee- owned, pays a good profit- sharing bonus, doesn't borrow to expand and funds new activities out of organic growth. Others may see working for them as a bit boring - too secure - and may want to work for someone like Ratner's, which is 'go, go, go',' he said.

The book also warns job- seekers against automatically taking the most generous conditions of employment on offer. They are advised to assess the quality of management, in the private and public sectors, as a guide to the long-term prospects for both the employer and the employee.

'Some of the best companies for the way they treat employees are badly managed and are insecure,' he said.

'Britain's Best Employers?' by Sean Hamil is published by Kogan Page; pounds 10.95.

(Photograph omitted)

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