The Impossible job candidate

I have a suspicion…

It has to do with the labor market and specifically a corporate philosophy that arose out of the corruption of H1B visas a few years back.

I work in Information Technology and have for two decades.  I’ve always been the type that had to think on his feet.   If something needed to happen it was my job to figure out how to make the dream a reality.  I’m ok with that, it keeps things interesting.

More than half of my career has been spent working as a consultant while the other half was spent as someone’s employee.  It gives me a unique perspective on the field but for entrenched corporate types it can make me seem a bit risky.

At least that’s what I used to think when I answered a job posting that should have at least netted an interview but instead yielded nothing.

Now it seems, it may have absolutely nothing to do with my “checkered” past.

Look at any IT job posting and you see a confusing array of acronyms and seemingly unrelated skills that up till a few years ago would rarely be seen in the same posting.

Yes, we are all asked to do more than we used to and skills must be constantly updated.  In IT, however, it seems that to command anything resembling a livable wage requires the skills of a highly trained System Administrator, Web developer, programmer and Database Administrator.  These are all separate disciplines.

It used to make me wonder if they were placing the ad for a real person.  Here’s a recent example from a Dice.com posting.  It’s for a Technical Support Engineer which is usually a level 2 help desk…except for this company…

•3+ yrs Production Control experience, or (3+ yrs Production Control and 3+ yrs Operations)
•2+ yrs 3rd level support in IT environment
•2+ yrs Unix Korn, Bourne Shell scripting, including sed/awk
•2+yrs of Web/App administration in Apache, Tomcat and WebSphere or other comparable webserver/application server technologies.
•2+yrs experience in handling applications developed in Java, Spring, JQuery, GWT among others.
•2+ yrs Perl shell scripting
•1+ yr PL/SQL - Oracle or Sybase
•Experience with Linux/Solaris OS System Administration
•Experience with database administration in Oracle/Sybase
•Experience with job scheduling tools.
•Experience with Windows programming / administration
•Experience with networking
•Experience with systems administration.
•Experience with fax processes or telecom
•Experience with security (network, server, secured shell, etc)

•Familiarity with Software Development Lifecycle Processes.

I’ve met a lot of tech people as an IT guy in my time but I’ve never met anyone who had ALL of these skills.  In this posting alone we have support, production control, database administration, system administration, telecom, software development and just for good measure some security practices.

There may indeed be someone out there who has all of these skills but I guarantee they aren’t going to be anyone’s “support engineer”  They don’t show the pay rate either.  As with most IT job postings an actual salary range isn’t shown.  In most IT job ads “DOE” (dependent on experience) or “Market” (meaning as cheap as we can get) is the norm.

This is more a case of being the standard than the aberration as most ads have the same unrelated collection of skills to varying degrees.  Most IT professionals won’t posses all or even most of these skills  because the disciplines are so divergent.

The funny thing is, it doesn’t matter.  The posting is meaningless.

It came together for me when I happened across an old video on YouTube about a meeting of labor lawyers discussing how to legally discriminate against domestic job candidates in order to legitimize a request for cheaper H1B workers.  I’ve linked to it below…

Now I’m not going to run off on a tangent on how India is destroying our labor force.  It’s not their fault, they’re just bright enough to take advantage of an opportunity when they see it.   I’m not going to start bashing all of us fat, lazy Americans either.

No, contrary to that popular myth, the real culprits are the inhabitants of the Fortune 500  executive suites.  Seeking ever greater profit and ever decreasing overhead they saw an opportunity to artificially depress the labor market by lobbying for more H1B visa employees.

This was a godsend to them since they could get a similar work product at a fraction of the cost.  H1B employees could also expect a measure of control (due to their immigration status) that would be unheard of were they U.S. citizens.  In essence indentured servitude at the whim of a corporate master.

An indirect benefit was the depression of wages (remember it’s a labor MARKET) and more demands leveled on a domestic workforce in fear for their own jobs.  After all if the top end of the job market dictates the compensation then lowering that number has a “trickle down” effect on everyone else.

Enough with the history lesson.  Fast forward to today…

Lately I’ve been seeing more of the ads seeking “The impossible candidate” but coupled with them I’ve been getting lots of phone calls from recruiters.  They always sound enthusiastic up until they get my permission to be submitted to a position and then I never hear from them again.

I’ve also noticed that more of the callers have a distinctly Indian accent.  Couple that with the dozens of “too good to be true” recruiter emails with vague job descriptions and unrealistically high wages that I receive on a daily basis.  Additionally, the  recruiter names on the emails usually hail from the same region as the phone calls.  They don’t even try to hide it anymore by adopting an American sounding name.

it would appear there’s a new twist to an old scam.

Corporate America has gotten so cheap that they’re outsourcing their own HR to perpetuate their H1B scams.

Here’s the rub…

It’s not about you, me or anyone responding to these ads.   So why does it seem that applying for a job often results in you being ignored or given the run around?  The ugly truth is that most of these jobs probably don’t actually exist.

Do I have a smoking gun?  Perhaps copies of secret memos passed between mahogany conference tables? No…

What I do have is a trail of circumstantial evidence that fits the mold of the original H1B corruption scandal .  Without requiring much of a stretch to do so I might add.

Remember our lawyer friends in the video?  Their purpose was to find a way to give plausible deniability to businesses seeking cheap labor by “legally” abusing the H1B program and discriminating against domestic workers.

I believe this is what’s happening now but with a slight twist.

Companies are posting positions that either don’t exist, using offshore recruiters to skirt U.S. labor laws or they run ads for positions they have no hope of filling.  All for the purpose of providing plausibility to their claims of a lack of a skilled labor pool.

By the way, we probably shouldn’t assume that every recruiter is complicit in this either.  For all intents and purposes recruiters are just order takers trying to match up client to candidate.  They can only operate on the information given them.  With a tough labor market any agency can be duped into participating in the pantomime of a phony job opening.

In some cases a recruiter may provide hundreds of leads only to have all of them rejected.  The client got what they wanted, however, leaving the agency holding the bag for the costs of a wasted effort.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the perfect candidate with a note from the Pope saying you’re in line for sainthood.  All you’ve done is provide due diligence for a flawed process.   You’re a name on list of thousands of “deemed inadequate” candidates.

Yes it’s fraud but who’s going to prosecute a company in another country for violating U.S. labor law?

So it would appear that perhaps we’re not so obsolete, unskilled or unemployable after all.  It was never about us at least not after they got our applications that is.

It’s sickening, disgusting and evidence of just how out of control corporate America is.  If there’s anything positive you can take away from this it’s that you’re not as useless as these ridiculous ads and dead end opportunities would have you believe.

It really was never about you…

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