From Hourly Associate to Senior VP at Wal-Mart: Wal-Mart is More Selective Than Harvard University
"Jobs at Wal-Mart are a dead-end cycle that keeps people in poverty," according to Wal-Mart critics like Wendell Chin in this SF Chronicle article. Why is it then that so many people want to work at Wal-Mart? Most new Wal-Mart stores employ 350 employees, and it typically gets 11,000 to 25,000 applications, or about 25 to 75 applications for EVERY AVAILABLE JOB! Even Harvard University gets only about 10 applications for every available position. Think about it, Harvard's acceptance rate is 9.3%, and Wal-Mart's acceptance rate is only 1-3%!
One reason so many people want to work at Wal-Mart is the opportunity for advancement - more than 75% of current store managers started at Wal-Mart as hourly associates.
For example, consider the case of 42-year old Patricia Curran, Wal-Mart's Executive Vice President of Store Operations, and listed by Fortune Magazine as one of the 50 most powerful women in the U.S., along with two other senior Wal-Mart executives. She is also listed here as one of the Wall Street Journal's top 50 Women to Watch for 2006.
At age 20, Ms. Curran started her career at Wal-Mart as an hourly associate in the pets department, and was subsequently promoted to Department Manager, Assistant Manager, Co-Manager, Store Manager, Regional Personnel Manager, District Manager, Operations Coordinator, Regional Vice President, and Divisional Merchandise Manager, and in 2003 to Senior Vice President of Wal-Mart store operations.
I don't think Patricia Curran is living in poverty, and I don't think she would consider her career at Wal-Mart as a dead-end cycle.
To paraphrase Thomas Sowell, Wal-Mart does not pay its associates as much as third-party observers like Wendell Chin would like to see them paid. But how much are third parties like Wendell Chin, who wax indignant, paying them, and how many jobs are they providing? None.