Banking on H-1B to bail out the fat cats

The U.S. banking mess is a trickle-down scandal. The fat cats will siphon off billions in TARP funds while their “solution” trickles down onto your head — like water torture. While you’re bailing out the bankers, they lay you off and use our tax dollars to hire your replacement from overseas. Great way to put people back to work.

In Banks look overseas for workers, an Associated Press investigation reveals that while their balance sheets were tanking last year, the biggest banks (which are getting the biggest bailouts) started pursuing one-third more H-1B work visas than in 2007 to fill top-level positions with foreign workers. The average positions pay $90,721. We’re talking about senior vice presidents, analysts, corporate lawyers, and, er… ah… human resources specialists. That’s over 4,000 jobs.

Now, I’m not a troglodyte or a socialist. I believe the U.S. must compete with foreign producers (including workers) or suffer the consequences. But I’m not a putz, either. U.S. taxpayer dollars are being used to help stupid bankers recover their footholds in the financial world, and part of the deal is to resurrect dead American jobs.

Use those tax bucks to hire foreign workers right after the crash resulted in Americans losing their jobs? ‘Fraid not.

In a normal economy (if there is one), competition from foreign workers is a reality. We may not like it, but we have to deal with it. But in a crisis where nothing is normal and the government is propping up the economy, natural competitive issues are put aside in the interest of saving the country. That means American jobs.

When the fat cats are banking on H-1B to bail themselves out, it’s time to, er, ah, skin the cats.

(Hey, I have a cat that no one’s gonna skin… it’s a metaphor so don’t send me hate mail.)

Let the resume wars begin

Online job boards rent, sell, trade, loan, and otherwise fully exploit resumes people submit to them. This was pretty well documented even several years ago. Today, unscrupulous “recruiters” use the job boards as their personal data bases, uploading people’s resumes without their knowledge, and downloading and submitting to their “clients” the resumes of other unsuspecting rubes. That’s why the job boards in general are a national disaster.

An Ask The Headhunter reader (who asked to be anonymous) suggests an interesting solution to the misuse of resumes. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether this might be the first volley in a legal battle to protect your credentials and privacy. Look carefully at the disclaimer this reader places at the bottom of communications with employers and headhunters (and probably on resumes). The idea is intriguing, especially if you consider that some people spend considerable amounts of money to have their resumes written professionally. (I’m not a lawyer, but this seems to establish that a resume is a different kind of asset than some might assume — now it has a documented monetary value.) Read more

The dope on TheLadders

I’ve written before about TheLadders’ veneer of exclusivity and the mass-market business model underneath it. When a paying customer of TheLadders recently shared the transcript of a customer-service “chat” she had with a Ladders’ rep, I had to hit this topic again. The misrepresentations TheLadders makes on its web site are beyond the pale. “Only $100k+ Jobs. Only $100k+ Candidates.”

Only it’s not true.

The story is in this week’s Ask The Headhunter Newsletter: Liars at TheLadders. E-mail from readers has been filling my mail box — comments that I’m sure other readers would like to see. So I’m opening this up for discussion here on the blog. Please feel free to post your comments below.

UPDATE March 19, 2014
Angry, frustrated customers of TheLadders who say they were scammed finally get their day in court. Federal Court OK’s Suit Against TheLadders: Breach of contract & deceptive practices

UPDATE March 12, 2013 A consumer protection class action suit has been filed against TheLadders. If you believe you’ve been scammed by TheLadders, you can join the suit by contacting the law firm that filed the complaint. More here: TheLadders sued for multiple scams in U.S. District Court class action

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How to manage your career in a recession

In my last posting I criticized The Wall Street Journal for its history of producing sophomoric and self-serving career advice. The newspaper publishes advertorials masquerading as articles. They are largely intended to drive readers to the Journal’s job listings. So much for editorial integrity.

But there is good advice to be had in lots of business publications. As I’ve pointed out, it’s not usually career advice. It’s guidance about business that can be readily applied to job hunting, hiring and career success. You just have to read between the lines and think.

An article in the January 19 edition of Fortune, How to manage your business in a recession, could easily have been re-cast as advice for managing your career in a recession. I won’t cover all 10 suggestions offered by Geoff Colvin, but I’ll try to show you how to translate some of them into useful career strategies. Read more

The Wall Street Journal’s Tips for Tricking Employers

Readers sometimes point out that I don’t often link to career articles on other web sites. I know. It’s because most career articles are the same-old re-treads or desperate attempts by reporters to write something clever to satisfy their clueless editors. Don’t believe me? Visit The Wall Street Journal‘s Careers web site. You’ll find drivel like this: Explaining Short Job Stints. The article could have been titled, “Let’s Trick the Employers, Boys and Girls!”

This is The WSJ‘s idea of hard-core advice for difficult times. Reporter Elizabeth Garone recommends tricks for deailing with a daunting problem because the experts she cites can’t come up with any useful common sense. Let’s contrast the tricks she offers with some honest suggestions that protect the job hunter.

She suggests: To downplay jumping between two employers in six short months, do what executive-search expert Fred Coon says: Put the blame on your employers. Oh, yah. That’s nice work. Show the employer that you solve problems by blaming someone else. Smart thing to do while you’re talking to a guy about a job. Read more

Who’s holding the H-1B bag?

Blame the attorneys, or their clients who pay them? A reader passed this youtube item along. It’s a lesson in how to post fraudulent ads so you can qualify to hire foreign nationals.

What an embarrassment to the HR community, which hires the attorneys who teach how to scam the H-1B program. The law firm in question has reportedly removed the video from its own web site (they were advertising it?). But YouTube is forever.

There’s a bigger question here. Sure, companies hire H-1B’s to save money. But I think the problem is far worse than that. Consider that to hire via H-1B, you have to define a position narrowly to demonsrate that only a very specific person — who happens to be a foreign national — can do it. Just how narrowly can positions be defined? Well, judging from current management practice, very. Tie this to the “war for talent,” and an underlying trend becomes clear.

I think the “war for talent” and “the H-1B solution” together are a smokescreen. The problem isn’t talent — there is a lot of talent around. The problem, I think, is management. Companies have become so focused on their stock price and PR that they have become shortsighted. They want to solve mostly very specific problems. They don’t seek out talent, which requires cultivation and feeding. They define jobs so narrowly that they can’t easily find “the perfect candidate” — who isn’t really talented, just specifically-skilled. The candidate also happens to be overseas and inexpensive. HR can’t (or won’t) find the very candidates it advertises for, so lawyers have become the new recruiters.

A lot of pundits write about “the talent war” and the H-1B controversy because that’s what sells advertising. The real story is that much management today is stuck in narrowly-defined objectives. The focus is on filling jobs rather than building bench strength. So companies wage a talent war, lawyers handle the recruiting, the whole thing is revealed to be a sham, and HR is left holding the H-1B bag.

Maybe HR will put down the bag and finally stand up — when a Senate subcommittee issues the subpoenas.

Dig this advice

Welcome back from the holidays! Let’s start the year with some small bites of easily digestible advice that tastes good and hits the spot. Serial entrepreneur GL Hoffman serves up these two tips that you can use immediately:

Recession-Proof Your Job (Keep it)

How to Find a New Job

Hoffman writes one of the few blogs I read: What Would Dad Say? (It’s where the above links lead.) And now he’s put out an e-book that I admire. You can try a taste and see if you like it!