January 9, 2009

Who’s holding the H-1B bag?

Filed under: Hiring, Recruiting, Stuff I worry about

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.

3 Comments on “Who’s holding the H-1B bag?”
By Lucille
January 13, 2009 at 10:42 am

Well you are kind of assuming that employers start off with a job and define it narrowly. I was thinking you’d start off with employers have a person and define the job to that person. Which one do you think happens more frequently?

By Nick Corcodilos
January 13, 2009 at 11:14 am

Your approach is the smart one. But not the one that companies tend to use, in my opinion. And that’s the problem. Pressure from the investment industry makes companies focus too much on short-term solutions for short-term profits. As a result, they try to fix immediate problems with narrow job descriptions. This makes it easier for them to reject local candidates and justify going for H-1B. I’m not saying all H-1B hires are inappropriate, just that poor management practice leads to abuse of a hiring method.

By Ask The Headhunter® | Nick Corcodilos - Banking on H-1B to bail out the fat cats
February 2, 2009 at 1:24 pm

[...] 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. [...]

Post a comment