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Apple Computer Leaves No Stone Unturned in Employee Career Management

April 1, 1994
Related Topics: Career Development, Employee Career Development, Featured Article
Unlike many organizations, Apple Computer, based in Cupertino, California, hasn't had to make the shift from a paternalistic company to one that encourages employees to take responsibility for themselves. This isn't because the company still believes it has a benevolent need to care for its workers, but because it never felt this way to begin with. Apple's philosophy on employee career development is plainly stated in its career-management brochure: "Apple can't guarantee lifelong employment. Your responsibility is to drive your own development and career."

This doesn't mean, however, that Apple has absolved itself of all responsibilities related to employee career development. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. For a company that promotes empowerment and personal responsibility, Apple has made a great many resources available to help employees with career management. As Nancy Dewey, employee-relations manager, explains, "We view career management as a partnership."

For the employees, the company's career-management strategy is intended to help them identify skills and abilities, making them ready for current or future career opportunities. For Apple, career management is intended to help ensure that the company has the talent and skills needed for the business to succeed. The company views career self-management as central to its success, believing such a program can attract, develop and retain versatile and qualified employees.

Among the resources that are offered to employees through Apple's career-management program are:

A comprehensive career resource library.
A collection of current information on careers through a variety of sources, including newspapers, magazines, books and audio/video tapes. The library also offers a listing of job opportunities to help employees identify internal positions with Apple and positions with other industries. Furthermore, the library houses a bulletin board that features up-to-date information on industry trends and professional associations.

Brown bag seminars.
These informal, one-hour sessions help employees keep current on industry, business and career trends.

Assessment and counseling.
Apple's Career Resource Center offers a variety of skills and interest assessments to help employees understand themselves and appreciate how different personality types approach career planning and career choices. Confidential one-on-one counseling also is available to employees who want to discuss on-the-job career development issues.

Networking groups.
Weekly networking groups help employees who are interested in getting to know more about the functional areas at Apple, from either a developmental or career-change perspective. Members of networking groups also share leads and information on work outside the company.

Online job posting.
Apple encourages employees to pursue internal transfers through its electronic Job Finder. Employees can access job postings at any time through their desktop computers.

Until 1993, Apple's career resources only were available to employees who were victims of downsizing. (The company cut 10% of its work force in 1992.) Last year, however, Apple's HR managers realized it would be a smart business move to help all employees proactively manage their careers. Why? "Our industry changes rapidly, and we're no longer certain what business we're going to be in at any given time," Dewey says. "We can't offer job security, but we can offer tools, resources and information."

Personnel Journal, April 1994, Vol.73, No. 4, p. 64E.

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