So American companies say there’s a skills and talent shortage, and they can’t find workers qualified to do the job? And technology companies, in particular, complain the loudest?

According to a Computerworld report, it’s easy to see why. Some companies seem to be conspiring to block recruiting and hiring altogether:

“The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit accusing eBay of entering into a ‘handshake’ agreement to not recruit or hire employees of software maker Intuit.”

Stop recruiting!

While Scott Cook, Intuit’s founder, was serving on eBay’s board, he complained that eBay needed to stop recruiting from Intuit. The DOJ suit contends that Cook and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman agreed not to hire one another’s employees.

In yet another stupid HR trick, eBay’s recruiters were told not to consider Intuit employees for jobs, and “to throw away such resumes.” The Computerworld article doesn’t say whether Intuit and eBay hire H1-B applicants after they reject those resumes.

Kinda gives new meaning to job hunters’ contentions that their resumes disappear into “the human resources black hole.” The Computerworld article says:

“The alleged hiring truce was a ‘naked restraint of trade’ that harms tech workers by keeping their salaries down and limiting their employment options, the DOJ said in the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.”

HR managers in top high tech companies are throwing perfectly good resumes in the trash? And complaining about the lack of qualified tech talent?

Gimme a break. Kiss my ass.

Splashing around in the talent pool

The DOJ contends the no-hire agreement between eBay and Intuit started around 2006. Meanwhile, in August 2006, reported that Intuit was so concerned about the tech talent shortage that it started working more closely with colleges and universities to “get people into the computer science programs.” Intuit also conducted a study of computer science enrollments which showed “a great decline.”

It seems someone was, uh, relieving themselves in the talent pool.

EBay denied the allegations, and Intuit was not named in the DOJ suit. Why? This one’s rollicking good fun. The DOJ had already named Intuit in a similar suit, along with  Intuit, Google, Apple and other companies — and settled it in September 2010. That suit led to the suit against eBay.

Talent shortage? Skills shortage? Only insofar as it seems there’s a surfeit of bullshit in these companies.

My advice: Find a company to work for that behaves competitively, doesn’t conspire to throw out your resume, and is in a business other than manufacturing talent shortages.

What have you seen in the pool lately?

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  1. I used to work in Hartford, CT, lo those decades ago. At the time, people would jump from insurance company to insurance company in order to get a raise or a promotion. The had bought their house and settled down and wanted a good career. But another non-insurance employer in Hartford (allegedly) wouldn’t hire people who worked for insurance companies, because they were insular and not interested in new technologies.

    That perception was a consideration of why I moved out of Hartford to another city. I didn’t want to be pegged and then put in the insurance category, never to get out. A lot of the brightest people (who were new at their careers, who hadn’t bought a house and settled down) also left Hartford for that reason.

    I bet Ebay and Intuit are digging their own holes with the brightest people. Because the brightest want to work for any employer who raises people up, rather than imposes a cap on their capabilities.

  2. OK. I seem to miss the benefit of purposely creating (even the perception of) Talent shortages. Without Talent your company dies. That strategy makes no sense to me. It was suggested that this could result in keeping salary levels down (a cost savings I presume), however if the perception is a talent shortage, would that not actually raise the Talent market price (lack of supply and high demand)???

    • That’s simple, then they can get foreigners via H1B visas, who are basically stuck working with the company, not matter how awful. That way, they can

      1.) Pay them less than Americans.
      2.) Put them through harsher working conditions, longer hours than Americans would take (i.e. a 60 hour work week on salary for the same pay that Americans are taking for a 40 hour work week.)
      3.) By further inflating the labor supply, via H1Bs, etc, they can use the law of supply and demand to drive down wages. Now, if there really WERE a talent shortage, then, those who actually DID have talent would be being paid like $100K right out the gate as they’d be desperate to get them. However, as IT wages have remained the same (or even gone down) over the last 15 years shows that it’s not a talent shortage at all, but, more likely

      1.) A talent glut
      2.) Stingy employers who want to pay entry level pay for 10 years of experience, and, surprise surprise, cannot find anyone. (That’s not a talent shortage, that’s a sucker shortage.)
      3.) Incompetent HR and hiring (see Nick’s other articles for that, especially the WTF…Employment in America article.)

      Indeed, the “talent shortage” is so bad that, at most, only 1 out of 2 who go into STEM actually end up getting a career in there (due to many reasons, not just corporate greed and incompetence).

  3. I have heard of “what business needs in a rapidly changing economy is critical thinking skills” on multiple occasions over the past number of years. This makes me a bit incredulous. Or what business say they need and really want are not the same thing.

    I have an engineering degree and have changed career paths three times, continued education plus have a proven record of creative and utilitarian problem solving. And yet over nearly the past decade I have been without a pay check over 45% of the time. I have looked nationally (US/Can) for new opportunities.

  4. I have long said “The best way to get a good raise is to leave and come back.” The problem is I’ve only come back once, as a contractor. Companies almost universally misunderstand the value of internal skills vs. outside expertise, and the high costs in errors and efficiency when people leave for a relatively small salary increase.

    • You are so right! All thru my career I’ve always read about how costly turnover supposedly is. And it is, particularly in the loss of tribal knowledge, and doing things the company way. Yet my experience has consistently been that companies do little or nothing about it.

  5. I have read a couple of articles as well as heard in a management seminar that some companies/recruiters will not hire applicants that have a degree from the University of Phoenix. Although I cannot vouch for what the school’s practices are today, between 1998 and 2001, I worked my tail off going to classes, presenting award winning presentations, and maintaining a 4.0 GPA, all while working full-time, traveling for work, andraising children. How dare any employer/recruiter think my degree (which is a duel degree in Business and Information Systems) discount my education/degree because of some preceived notion that the school is not creditable!