Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Education IT

Why Bad Jobs (or No Jobs) Happen To Good Workers 1201

Posted by timothy
from the no-lack-of-well-employed-idiots-though dept.
sean_nestor writes "Back in October, an article appeared in The Wall Street Journal with the headline 'Why Companies Aren't Getting the Employees They Need.' It noted that even with millions of highly educated and highly trained workers sidelined by the worst economic downturn in three generations, companies were reporting shortages of skilled workers. Companies typically blame schools, for not providing the right training; the government, for not letting in enough skilled immigrants; and workers themselves, who all too often turn down good jobs at good wages. The author of the article, an expert on employment and management issues, concluded that although employers are in almost complete agreement about the skills gap, there was no actual evidence of it. Instead, he said, 'The real culprits are the employers themselves.'" The linked article is an interview with Peter Cappelli, author of the WSJ piece, who has recently published a book on the alleged skills gap.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why Bad Jobs (or No Jobs) Happen To Good Workers

Comments Filter:
  • O RLY? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:39AM (#40398895)

    and workers themselves, who all too often turn down good jobs at good wages

    Unfortunately, a company's definition of "good wages" is all too often directly at odds with what the workers themselves would consider to be good.

    • Re:O RLY? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:45AM (#40398955)

      How dare you demand a living wage. You actually expect your managers to give up their bonuses so you can actually pay your bills?

      • Lie on your resume (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cpu6502 (1960974) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:22PM (#40399549)

        "Needs 5 years experience with Pascal." (edits resume to change C++ to Pascal). It's a catch-22 where they want people to have experience but they can't gain experience if they never needed Pascal previously. What former-sorority girls or fratboys - now HR people - don't comprehend is that if you are a programmer, you are a programmer. It matters not what language you are using.

        • by meta-monkey (321000) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:29PM (#40399651) Journal
          Exactly.

          HR: "With which programming language are you most familiar?"
          Coder: "The one best suited for my current project."

          They don't get that.
        • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@NosPam.gmail.com> on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:47PM (#40399919) Homepage
          What's interesting is in the interview the story links to the guy actually blames the loss of HR people on this. According to him in the old days an HR manager would go to the manager looking to fill the vacancy and say "do you really need someone with ALL these qualifications?"
          • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@NOSPam.beau.org> on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:19PM (#40400509)

            Yup, that is one problem. The second, more important one was implied in the text but carefully not made explicit. We changed the implied work contract to something that doesn't work. So things simply can't remain the same, the question is how to fix it?

            The old work contract implied loyalty in both directions. Up to a point the company would be loyal to their more valuable workers, pensions, bennies and trying really hard to hold onto them in hard economic times. In the other direction employees were expected to have a certain loyalty to the company. In that environment it made sense to think longer term, seeking promising talent and developing it. Now companies aren't loyal to employees and employees aren't loyal to their company. If you assume the employee you hire today and spend a year training up will be gone in three years it doesn't make sense. So if employees are interchangable free agents they are expected to come 'complete' with all required skills. But there isn't a way to get those skills and the system thus fails.

            Go reread the part of the article again where it discusses how the IT startups devoured the carefully cultivated talent the old school companies had developed. If you didn't expect them to take the lesson from that beating as "stop paying to train your competitor's workers" then you aren't paying attention. And the startups are running in such a breakneck race to IPO they can't think of training anyone. That problem is worse in IT but applies in pretty much every field. Why spend a lot of time and money training somebody who will get headhunted away as soon as they can check the experience box? But once everyone is expecting someone else to hire the fresh grads and finish training them up the game is over.

            We probably can't return to the old 'company man' ways and it isn't even clear we want to. So we can't go back and we can't stay where we are either; so what next?

            • by marcosdumay (620877) <marcosdumay AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:58PM (#40401239) Homepage Journal

              That's simple to solve. Given the option, nearly everybody prefers to not even think about their salary, and won't go job hunting for small gains. Thus, you make the results of job hunting to be small, and you are done.

              You don't even need to pay the hightest salary around. You just make the work conditions good (that includes not working for sociopats) and the salary competitive. Yes, that includes giving raises that keep pace with the market, even if nobody asked for them.

              The loyalty of people to the status quo is so strong, it is hard to understand how people belive that BS about employees not being loyal. You must subject people to an incredible amount of pain before they endure going through job interviews again, face HR again, risk everything again.

            • by Burz (138833) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:51PM (#40402153) Journal

              The old work contract implied loyalty in both directions.

              The old work contract was formed against the background of a strong labor movement, whereas nowadays most of the entertainment-addled high-schoolers think they are going to become the next Bill Gates.

              Up to a point the company would be loyal to their more valuable workers

              There's your clue right there on what's wrong and how to fix it: Workers already receive differing pay scales based on their skill sets. But your attitude suggests that the less valuable positions should also suffer an absence of loyalty from their employers (from everyone, actually, so worker solidarity would be nonexistent as indeed it is within most American work environments today).

              I don't think the "most highly skilled" workers can have a thriving field to work within if that field exists within a society of expanding desperation and squalor. That is, unless the area of expertise is the kind sought after during a civil war.

            • by SirGarlon (845873) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @04:05PM (#40403153)

              The old work contract implied loyalty in both directions.

              Employers broke the contract first.

              Up to a point the company would be loyal to their more valuable workers

              As someone else said, the very idea that a subset of the employees are the only ones who really matter is a characteristic of the post-loyalty environment.

              A more accurate description of the "old way" is that employers used to provide training and advancement opportunities. Employees would take the training and get rewarded with advancement, or not and not get rewarded.

              The new way is to provide neither training nor advancement. Employees must train on their own time at their own expense to avoid getting laid off, and must change jobs if they want to actually advance their careers.

        • by DigiShaman (671371) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:59PM (#40400153) Homepage

          I ran into a job posting wanting 10 years of Server 2008 experience. Obviously I don't have the experience of a time traveler. And if I did, I sure as hell wouldn't be working for that company. In fact, I wouldn't be working at all but rather gaming the entire planet Earth for profit.

          Seriously, to hell with that HR. I hope the company she/her represents fail!

        • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:05PM (#40400227)

          A programmer is not always a programmer.

          For example, I would not expect someone with only experience in decades old mainframe cobol to be able to pick up a modern OO language and be productive in any decent time frame (if ever).

          Learning is a constant challenge. Those that stop learning for a long period of time have a very difficult time re-engaging it. That's why I always keep up on everything, because if I stop learning then it will be very hard to jump the gap.

          I would say someone who has several languages under their belt is a better candidate (if they don't already know the language) than someone who has only worked in one their entire life.

      • Re:O RLY? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Endo13 (1000782) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:40PM (#40399811)

        I think another piece of the problem is that raises are a lot more rare than they used to be. Especially in IT, you can't start in at barely-living wage and expect to be where you need to be in 5 years. Odds are, you'll be making the same wage (or possibly less) in 5 years. Thus, workers are now looking for the wage they want up front.

        • Re:O RLY? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:09PM (#40400311) Homepage Journal

          I think another piece of the problem is that raises are a lot more rare than they used to be.

          Well, there's your problem right there.

          In todays job market (and it has been this way for awhile now), you don't go into a job, planning to stay there and get raises and rise through the ranks.

          That is a VERY rare thing to happen.

          The only way to increase your pay..is change JOBS.

          You get a job..stay there 2 maybe 3 years tops. At that point, you need to be sending out resumes...interviewing (always good to keep in practice), and being ready to move to the new job.

          That is practically the only way you're going to significantly increase your salary over your career....that is, if you're planning to do nothing but be a W-2 employee all your life.

          I'd advise....get a few years experience under your belt, grind out the W2 lifestyle, and when you have generated experience, you are good AND, you've attained some contacts.....incorporate yourself, and become a hired gun contractor.

          That's where the big bucks can start coming in, and you can save a ton of your own money in tax write offs.

      • Re:O RLY? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kagetsuki (1620613) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:43PM (#40399877)

        Because I can hire an Eastern European, Indian, Oriental or Asian worker with a better work ethic with a living cost less than a quarter the fee I'd pay to an American and I don't even need to worry about employment contracts or benefits or anything. Right now more than half the programmers I use are foreign and I get better code from them for $500 a month than I did American and Canadian workers at 3k+ a month. Sorry, that's just reality.

        And before anyone starts posting "outsourced programmers are awful" or whatever I will tell you from extended personal experience you are wrong. Some of them suck, sure, but it's about the same ratio that suck in America. Do your homework, get sample code, have a trial period, and manage them properly with good tools (Trello and GitHub are amazing!). End of story.

        That said, when put in context your point is excellent - but it is pointing out a very big problem: if I'm going to pay an American $2,000 for a weeks worth of code I want something 10X better than the code I would pay to a Russian for a weeks worth of code. That's a big order to fill.

        • Re:O RLY? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:31PM (#40418483)

          Because I can hire an Eastern European, Indian, Oriental or Asian worker with a better work ethic with a living cost less than a quarter the fee I'd pay to an American and I don't even need to worry about employment contracts or benefits or anything. Right now more than half the programmers I use are foreign and I get better code from them for $500 a month than I did American and Canadian workers at 3k+ a month. Sorry, that's just reality.

          Then why don't you move to their country and make a living? It has all the advantages, so go! What could be stopping you? Oh yeah, 20 percent of your current salary and no benefits. But as a consistent person, you're okay with your job being outsourced when that happens, right?

          As we tramp down this road where we are reminded that the path to prosperity is through poverty, and that in order to make more, American workers must make less, and go without benefits, eventually what happens? Americans tried for years to keep up via using huge amounts of credit. Even as their wages remained stagnant, where the median income went up. That only works for a few years, then 2007 is the invertible result happens.

          But the new normal is going to mean that the greedy, fat, and lazy American worker is not going to be purchasing as much - because they cannot afford to. Maybe they don't have a job, because the industrious and ethical non-Americans are allowing the stockholders to be serviced. Maybe they are working at a fast food joint. And maybe they are just paying half their now reduced wages for health insurance. Since we shifted to a consumer based economy from a manufacturing based economy, it does not look too good. But Perhaps we will all become managers?

          So we might shift back to a manufacturing based economy? But there is that problem of pay. Maybe we could revitalize the consumer based economy. Not without a healthy middle class. We've already proven that via insane home prices and 50 year mortgages and maxing out credit cards, and the resulting crash which has to happen. People only live so long, Real Estate prices can only rise so high, and they can only have so much credit. You can't have a consumer based economy without consumers.

          So what do we do? I fear the present endgame plan is to suck the economy dry, and then the wealthiest few will all renounce their citizenship and move to Hong Kong or Singapore. Your "reality" is our demise, it is as unsustainable as the million dollar 2 bedroom one bath ranch houses in California. And assuming that you aren't at the top, someday your salary and benefits will be excessive, and you will become redundant.

    • Re:O RLY? (Score:5, Informative)

      by oPless (63249) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:47AM (#40398985) Journal

      Actually I'm cancelling an upvote to reply.

      In the UK, developers pay has frozen, if not reduced slightly over the past 12 years. I can't tell what it is in other sectors, but it's not a good thing.

      Unfortunately most companies here go through (a handful of) employment agencies, and they're making a packet.

    • re: O RLY? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:49AM (#40399003)

      From TFA:

      You wouldnâ(TM)t say, for example, that thereâ(TM)s a shortage of diamonds. Diamonds are very expensive. They cost a lot, but you can buy all the diamonds you want as long as youâ(TM)re willing to pay.

      There is no skill shortage.
      There is no worker shortage.
      The companies complaining are just refusing to pay the wages to get the skilled people.

      Which is why those companies want more visas for cheap, foreign workers.

      • Re: O RLY? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:00PM (#40399169) Homepage Journal

        If you'd read, it's not that either. It's that companies are only looking for perfect candidates for the particular thing they want done, as that saves them time and effort, and allows them to downsize as soon as the requirement is done. The removal of the concept of a "trainable" employee has been sabotaging their ability to find anyone, and since everyone else is engaged in poach-based hiring, the system is self-reinforcing.

        In particular, it also explains why unemployment among the recently graduated is so high.

        • Re: O RLY? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:18PM (#40399475)

          If you'd read, it's not that either. It's that companies are only looking for perfect candidates for the particular thing they want done, as that saves them time and effort, and allows them to downsize as soon as the requirement is done.

          That's the point.

          From TFA:

          We canâ(TM)t do that, so youâ(TM)ve got to be able to do the job perfectly from day one. The only people that can do that are people who are currently doing the same job someplace else.

          So the companies complaining are really complaining that the people they want to hire FROM THEIR COMPETITORS are not willing to take a PAY CUT to work for them.

          Imagine getting a call from a head hunter who wants you to leave your current job to go to work for another company (doing the exact same thing) for either less money or the same money.

          Why would you do that?

          • Re: O RLY? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:43PM (#40399859)

            Interesting story that illustrates your point: my girlfriend works in HR, and gets to define job positions and offers after getting the wishlist from the executives. She came back one day and wanted some feedback on what a job description should like for a developer for their internal software. Then she showed me what her executives had given her: a laundry list of languages (PHP, C++, Java, SQL) with multiple years of experience, proven ability to design system software and good presence in front of customers interested in buying said software. And they were planning to pay about 80k.

            In short, they were looking for a system architect with several years of experience and the ability to sell said software to potential clients. I told her that those people do exist, but they are employed and make whatever they think they should be making. After that, I'm a lot less surprised by these stories. In essence, a lot of companies think that there's still an employer's market when it comes to jobs, and most HR people have absolutely no clue that the requirements that they're getting are either not related to the job, are utterly unrealistic or have no relationship to the offered pay.

            Your last quote also neatly explains the recent strategy of HR to only look for employed people. It is born of the similarly unrealistic expectation that having a job now is somehow an indication that that person is worth more than someone without a job. And it dies in the same place: the complete lack of understanding that in order to lure someone away from an existing job, they need to make it worth that person's time and effort.

      • Re: O RLY? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Mabhatter (126906) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:56PM (#40400073)

        How about the SKILL that is missing is understanding what your business needs 2,3,5 years and then making sure you have an employee working toward that.

        McDonald's has a saying "Green is Growing". It's profound in that they are one of the few companies that PLAN for you to move up or leave... They are built around training at every level. You are either training or being trained... In the best stores that is ALWAYS going on. Leaving because you finished school or life moves on is PART of the plan, not a problem.

        I don't know how many you go into and everybody has 10-20 years at the company. If the boss isn't moving up, then the whole food gain is stalled because the only way UP is OUT they have nobody BEHIND YOU, so they're stuck trying to fill your exact job and pay grade without giving anybody ELSE promotions or raises. When there are only 10-20 people in a department that's a standstill.

    • Re:O RLY? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cjcela (1539859) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:02PM (#40399193)
      Not only that. Somehow we have grown into thinking that the only requirement from the employer to the employee are decent wages. It is not. Most workplaces make "The Office" working environment look like a paradise.
    • Re:O RLY? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dubbreak (623656) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:06PM (#40399247)

      and workers themselves, who all too often turn down good jobs at good wages

      Unfortunately, a company's definition of "good wages" is all too often directly at odds with what the workers themselves would consider to be good.

      Quite true. Where I live (pacific northwest) I've found there is no problem finding jobs in software but employers have a difficult time finding good people. In this case it's partially due to the low unemployment rate but also companies that are used to paying sub par wages because "this is a desirable place to live".

      The last employer I worked for I gave them a chance to compete on wage before I left. Initially they thought they were paying me quite fairly, but were willing to do a 3rd party wage review (to hopefully confirm their beliefs). I claimed I was under paid by at least 12% for the local market (I know a lot of other software devs, I was quite certain about that number) and considering a position that would be close to a 30% raise. Their wage review did in fact show I was under paid however they offered a paltry 6% raise and one time 5% bonus (when I was clear I wouldn't accept less than a 12% raise).

      The smart employers have started offering wages close to 20% above the norm and relocation expenses. Why? While this is a desirable place to live the cost of living is exorbitant compared to most of Canada. To attracting outside talent (rather than poaching from the local pool) you really need to sweeten the pot. Also, in order to poach from the local pool you need to offer better wages. I forget the study (I think it was in "The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave"), but I read a claim that employees won't leave a good that's "good enough" for less than 20%. If you don't 100% enjoy your job you'll put up with it rather than the risks of leaving for a small raise, the threshold being a 20% increase in pay.

      Now I have my own small business. One of my contractors (who just graduated) I pay pretty much what I was making when I left the previous company (which is a sizeable jump from the local norm for new grads). Why? Because tying experience to wage is ridiculous. He can code circles around devs I've worked with that claim 20+ years experience. He's easily worth it. Plus it makes it harder for others to poach him. He was taking on some other side work part-time and they complained that his rate was quite high for a new grad (of course they needed him, so they sucked it up and paid).

    • Re:O RLY? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:17PM (#40400461) Homepage

      Exactly. Why do they imagine that, given the high unemployment numbers, people are turning down "good jobs at good wages"? Either we should assume those people are all independently wealthy and they're not interested in working, or we would have to guess that those workers believe that the jobs and wages are not good enough.

      To me, these complaints read as, "Poor me, I can't find enough people to work like dogs at wages that will barely pay rent. Adding to my woes, the government won't let me import poor 3rd-world people who will work for table scraps. What a terrible world we live in that I might have to sacrifice my 4th summer house in order to pay enough money to get a qualified employee. Meanwhile, I'm going to complain about the education system, even though I have bribed public officials to cut education spending so I can have tax breaks. Poor, poor me."

  • Training! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by riverat1 (1048260) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:41AM (#40398921)

    What happened to companies hiring a competent worker and training them for the specifics of the job?

    • Re:Training! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:42AM (#40398929)

      That costs money and would negatively affect short-term profit margins.

      • Re:Training! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:53AM (#40399069)

        That costs money and would negatively affect short-term profit margins.

        Seems a little redundant calling it specifically "short-term profit margins". All appearances indicate most companies are only concerning themselves with the short term lately.

      • Re:Training! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:57AM (#40399113)

        That's just being bitter about the root cause.

        Of course it's about money, but it's not about affecting short-term profit margins. The problem is that if you invest a lot of money in training people but are the only company that does so in your field, you face a very real danger that your competitors are going to poach the trained staff by offering them slightly more money, but less than it would have cost to train themselves. Now you've sunk cost into staff you no longer employ, and wasn't particularly useful to you while you employed them. The article refers to this as as the Silicon Valley model. This makes it very, very unattractive for any given company to heavily invest in training until the majority of their competitors does so, too.

        • Re:Training! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:21PM (#40399523)

          Call the wahmbulance!

          If you don't want your valuable employees poached, then pay them more than they'll make somewhere else, and make sure their work environment is good so they won't want to leave. It's that simple. You don't even need to pay the absolute max, you just have to be in the top 80% probably, and make sure that they like their job; not that many people will jump ship to a risky new job (where they might hate the work environment) for just a few $K more. But if your work environment sucks (because you have an "open plan work area", for instance), then expect people to leave as quickly as they get a better offer.

    • Re:Training! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xs650 (741277) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:50AM (#40399027)
      In a world where employees are disposable, it doesn't make sense to invest very much in them.
  • Agree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GnetworkGnome (2654891) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:41AM (#40398923)
    Consdiering some of the people hired recently where I work, I would have to agree with this article. Things like personality, which is necessary to some degree depending on the job, are always considered highly above the genuine ability to do a job. People want those who they like around them, more than those that do their jobs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:42AM (#40398927)

    Many technical workers are very specialized. Just because someone is "highly skilled", it does not mean they are necessarily a match for any given arbitrary technical job.

    I am a good match for my current job. If I quit, they would have a very hard time finding a suitable replacement. I might also have a hard time finding work with a very specialized and technical skill set.

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx.b c . ca> on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:43AM (#40398939) Journal
    ... and you turn down *ANY* legitimate job offer that offers at least 80% of your previous job wages, then your benefits can be terminated, immediately. There's currently a bill in the pipe in Canada to reduce that percentage to, I think, 60%. Somebody feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about the exact percentage.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:46AM (#40398959) Journal
    There was once a comic of two people walking down the street in opposite directions, one person thinking to himself, "why can't I find anyone to hire?" and the other one thinking to himself, "why can't I find a job?"

    A lot of it is companies not knowing how to find good workers, and workers not knowing how to draw attention of companies. If either one of these situations were fixed, then the problem would be solved.

    Incidentally, one of the most crucial skills for programming managers in Silicon Valley right now is knowing how to find good workers for your team.
  • by alen (225700) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:47AM (#40398971)

    There are lots of people having kids these days, i've read its like the 50s baby boom. both parents work but need to pick the kids up from school/day care.

    if you really want to lure people other than onsite child care have a flexible work schedule allowing people to work from home. there is very little that i cannot do from home and a lot of times i'm more productive at home than in the office.

    • by spiritgreywolf (683532) * on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:30PM (#40399669) Homepage Journal

      I agree. One way to get a jump start on this is to become either a freelance W-2 contractor (or 1099 - but W-2 is easier to find due to liability concerns for subcontracting) and snag one or two good clients that you can work for remotely. I do hospital systems integration and have an elderly parent to care for (lives 10 minutes away). Working remote offers me the ability to still deliver excellent service at any hour, and not have to live out of a suitcase.

      The trouble is, a lot of dinosaurs still inhabit middle management. They feel that if they can't see you warming a chair in a cube-farm, you're not working. Sadly they fear things like webcams and Skype. Even sadder, most times I usually got more work done in those situations when I could work from the hotel room later at night with fewer interruptions.

      It also helps that I am in a niche market of healthcare where a lot of "whiz-bang kids" and all users of the new flavors-of-the-day high tech buzzword compliant crap think EDI and medical interfacing is "boring" - but I work to live, not the other way around and make damn good money at it. I'm also weird in that I actually enjoy it.

      For those potential clients sitting on a fence about it, I offer them one free interface remotely. If they don't like my work, I walk away. Every time I explain that their dollars are better spent toward actual deliverables instead of paying travel, room and board for a bunch of laptop carrying suit-monkeys they usually try me out and keep using me.

      And for those people saying, "well they can just offshore you", they're right. However, please keep in mind that I do good work and can communicate effectively with the client. I am affable, pleasant, and deliver what I say. I also have worked in healthcare and hospitals for 20+ years and KNOW their business intimately. Workers in India with really thick accents named "Sarah" and "Bob" can only compete with me on money. In healthcare, thankfully, accuracy, depth of knowledge of both the business and workflow, and the ability to work with a team means as much if not more than money. My repeat business is more than I can usually take on comfortably.

      Working from home just takes a willingness to be available MORE often until the manager is comfortable. Let me say this - as remote technologies improve to enable extended work distances, clients embrace the use of Skype, webcams and WebEx, and more of these 50's style babysitting managerial-goons die off and retire, more opportunities to work remotely will appear. The best advice I can give really has nothing to do with working remotely - save money for the times you don't have work and for the love of all that is Holy - LIVE BELOW YOUR MEANS!

  • by RichMan (8097) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:48AM (#40398989)

    There is supply and demand to empolyment. If the companies want people with specific skills they need to provide the money. The companies real complaint is that they can't find the people they want at the money they are willing to pay.

    To the companies I say welcome to basic economics. If you want something specific you may have to pay a lot. In this case the companies are consumers of the labour market. And as we know it sucks to be a consumer.

  • by stanlyb (1839382) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @11:53AM (#40399057)
    It is actually pretty simple:
    1.Networking. This simple word defines 99% of all recruitment decisions. If you don't know someone, then you cannot get the job. As a result, if the company provides good benefits, the chance that you, the lonely wold would pass the initial test and interview are very close to zero, minus zero actually (no pun intended).
    2.As a result of the before mentioned networking, most of the bad developers are having the perfect resume, the perfect references, and the perfect self-confidence. And of course, as Darvin already proved, no skills are required, so they don't have them.
    3.The consequence of 1. and 2. is that once they are hired, and prove their lack of skills, the HR team would panic, and would try to use some funny ways of finding the best candidate, which will end up hiring the worst candidate of course (the one with networking), and so the cycle is repeated....
    ..
    It is not coincidence that the Great China Empire fall, not because of some external treat, but because of the corruption, ops, sorry, i mean "networking".
  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:04PM (#40399211)

    This whole "We can't find the skilled workers we need thing" is just a big H1B visa scam (here in the U.S. anyway):

    1) Post ads for jobs with impossible qualifications (i.e. 20 years of Java development experience) or so specialized that only a specific H1B candidate can meet them.
    2) Turn away every applicant as unqualified
    3) Cry to Congress and the Labor Dept. that you can't find enough qualified workers to fill positions, ask for more visas
    4) Get more H1B visas
    5) Pay foreign nationals a pittance.
    6) Profit!

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:06PM (#40399243)

    When your a corporate CEO billionaire and need to lay off [seekingalpha.com] people in order to buy your own friggin hawaiian island [sfgate.com] and then come back and bitch and whine that you can't find "talented people" something is fishy.

  • by Random Q. Hacker (137687) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:14PM (#40399403)

    I work at a Fortune 5 company, where we outsourced to Oracle, and Oracle in turn applied for H1B workers because they "could not find suitable US applicants". Most of the Indian contractors that showed up had no expertise in installing the software, and were completely lost when they could not find something in the manual.

    This is not about experience, this is about screwing hard working and capable Americans out of jobs so that Larry Ellison and creeps like him can buy private islands and retire. It's about putting shareholders above employees and morals. It's about damaging the country that made your success possible in the first place.

  • by exabrial (818005) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:17PM (#40399455)
    The two biggest factors are work/life balance, environment, and the inability for the company to provide challenging work to it's workforce. Believe it or not, people will work for _much less_ money if you create an engaging place to work.

    On work/life balance, companies should be offering 4 weeks vacation after 30 days of employment. They should offer a two month sabbatical every 3 years. I don't believe it "working from home" but time off and vacation _should not be audited_ unless a problem occurs with a particular individual. Scary though, huh? We're all adults, treat people like them rather than high school students.

    On environment, they should allow drinking in the workplace (oh gasp!). They need to tear up timesheets (no one takes them seriously anyway). They need to _fight_ actively to retain key talent. Furthermore, they need to cut the crud out of their management chain by routinely firing incompetent managers (which creates a morale boost). The need to hire fresh talent for the older jockeys to train.

    Finally on the work itself, they need to allow their engineers to drive the majority of the decision making process. First, if an engineers comes and says, "hey if we cut this out of our software stack, it'll make our stuff faster." Rather than say, "No, that's a key investment we chose two years ago" say, "Oh yeah? well prove it. Take one of your teammates and come back to me in two weeks with a POC." This will do two things, first, it will get them to shut up. Second, it may turn into something awesome; win-win situation. The biggest mistake is companies with management overhead blocking engineers from creating value. Engineers are loose cannons. You don't reign them in, instead you let them create lots of raw product, then you pick the best ideas and refine them. Failure to leverage a company's key assets (their engineers) will result in your business paralysis. As soon as engineering decisions become political, you'll see an exodus of your key talent and you won't be able to hire anyone, in essence, you have created your own starvation.
  • by Koreantoast (527520) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:26PM (#40399605)
    An interesting comment from the linked article:

    Yeah, you know, the craziest thing about high tech is the Silicon Valley model, which sort of became dominant in the U.S., replaced the model where IT people used to be groomed and trained from within. And the Silicon Valley model of hiring just in time for what you need came about largely because they were able to poach talent away from these bigger companies that had spent a lot of time training and developing people.

    The implication is that the Silicon Valley approach to personnel management helped destroy the traditional system, and it makes a lot of sense when you talk with people who work in the industry. Traditionally, companies would train and develop college hires and employees because they could reasonably expect their employees to stay with them for a set period of time, guaranteeing an ROI on their investment. However, many of these new start ups basically came in throwing around money and stock options, stealing people groomed by these companies. Even employees who would be required to pay back tuition and training costs would still make the jump because the poaching firm would pay for it. The companies that developed these employees then have incentive to give up on the practice and resort to the same sort of poaching.

    When I talk with college hires before the floor fell beneath the economy, I saw that mentality: I'll go work for X firm long enough to get training from them and then jump ship to go make big money in start ups or consultancies. If you're a large firm, why would you invest in grooming employees if this is the mentality that the best and brightest are embracing? If the pool is ready to jump ship for the next big salary bump, why should you pay for expensive training and development? Only problem is that we've now begun to exhaust the pool of experienced employees and the "shortage" emerges.
  • by SoTerrified (660807) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:46PM (#40399911)

    In the olden days, you would hire someone at an entry position. They they would work with someone experienced who would both train and mentor the employee. At the end of the process, you had someone trained and ready for the position.

    But some time ago, companies realized it was cheaper to poach from other companies. Let them do the training, then swoop in, and offer just enough to pry them away.

    What we are seeing today is the end result when everyone poaches from other companies and no one is actually doing the training. For some reason, there's a lack of qualified people. DUH!

  • by Comrade Ogilvy (1719488) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @12:52PM (#40400009)

    The article pretty clearly states the real underlying problem: Companies strongly prefer hiring experienced people who are doing the exact same job, right now. But they are not owning up to the fact they may be poaching from a limited pool, because they and all their competitors are bidding for the same people. Obviously that will inevitably create a bidding war when the sector is doing well.

    Investment in training people can help here -- that is the traditional answer. But companies are scared of that investment because their competitors will poach once the investment finally begins to really pay off, of course.

    Now we come what we slashdotters see as the elephant in the room: the the H1B visas. The visa process is so long that provides a partial lock in, and therefore a measure of safety for the employers. Not only will many H1B visa candidates accept slightly lower salary offers, but they are more likely to accept lesser raises until they has their visa.

    I do not feel strongly one way or another about more or fewer H1B visas. But it is clear that large companies have a powerful incentive to simply throw up their hands and claim they need more H1B visas, regardless of the underlying reality. They do not care if there is a thousand potential employees who be fabulous after 12 months of in house experience lining up on the street, clamoring for a chance.

  • Where to start? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by manaway (53637) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:46PM (#40400965)

    All those kids that used to live on family farms? Well let's school them to be good factory workers. That's not enough though, let's use the "no child left behind" notion to, not integrate every kid but rather, start lowering standards for every student. And why are we spending so much money on those inconsistent teachers with their different approaches to differing students. And get rid of teacher unions, which just work for livable salaries and benefits which are well below that of the typical CEO giving advice to newspaper transcribers (used to be journalists, now hardly even reporters).

    Then, then! Let's eliminate those factory jobs we trained those students to obey without thinking or resenting too much by moving the factories to cheaper countries. Countries where pollution controls and labor laws are rarely practiced. And place them in tax-free zones so no taxes are wasted on schools and infrastructure and such. Yeah the local workers have crap lives, but it's slightly better than farm life, right? And those factory workers in the original country, the ones that lost their jobs? They can go back to school!

    And those people that pursue higher education, especially the ones doing it for better jobs? Well let's make universities extremely expensive, so graduates are in debt and will take any job and abuse in order to start paying back loans. Especially their credit card loans, which were offered in hopes of burying them in 12-30% interest payments for life; in addition to the 1.5 to 3% the credit company skimmed off the top. There is a need for a few scientists to figure out what's really going on in the world, and to make new devices (to simplify jobs, reduce worker headcounts, and entertain the poor who can't afford a vacation). And a need for a few financial wizards (that since the 1970s have gained control of 1/3 of the US economy), but those can come from the 1% of already rich families which have about 50% of the country's wealth; and the occasional (H1-B?) computer mathematician who can figure the odds on stocks, nanosecond currency exchanges, and credit default swaps--and fix the laptop. And if those financiers screw up and the whole economic system crashes, there's always the regular taxpayer providing insurance (why is it called "bail outs?") to corporations and their executives, keeping the cash flowing. Those same corporate execs who whine about paying taxes even when they don't. Yeah the newspapers publish that once in a while, but no one changes the tax laws to be more fair; so the facts recede from memory and we can get back to blaming immigrants, teacher salaries, sexuality, skin shadings, religions, and other nationalities--and if someone investigates too honestly there's always "national defense" to end inquiries.

    Well, the laws do get changed, mostly by corporate lobbyists, who want to decrease taxes on the rich, remove laws that are costly to corporations (no matter what the effect on people and the environment), and increasingly shift jobs that are performed fairly well by government (social security, healthcare, military, prisons, schools, water, energy, roads) to the private sector. The private sector, AKA corporations, where a select few can make big salaries, shareholders can get their dividends, and workers can be replaced by someone even more poorly off who's willing to work for rent and food money while doing without healthcare (that's what the ER is for, and credit cards, and payday loans). And to make the business profitable, why not reduce expenses like retirement, healthcare, living wages, long-term livable surroundings, education, clean water, cleaner energy, and reliable roads? It's just business, got to keep those shareholders from selling their stock. Nevermind the stakeholders or the public.

    And those people with a bad job or no job, what about them? Well they're poor or homeless because of the schools. Obviously. We should implement vouchers for private sector schools, and start training children correctly.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:43PM (#40402019)
    I am VERY good at applying for, interviewing for, and getting hired for jobs. About 10 years ago I took a bunch of courses on how to write resumes, interview well, etc... Unlike most classes of this sort, these were run by an older black gentleman who I can only describe as a genius when it comes to the hiring process.

    There are basically 2 ways a company can hire. The old way, which is based on gut instinct. The interviewer reads your resume, meets you, and if they like you, you're hired. This method is fraught with problems that revolve around the basics of human nature. Someone with a weak handshake will almost never get hired. They are immediately seen as passive, slow, lazy. Someone that understands the system (like me) can thoroughly thwart the system by simple changing the subject during the interview. You talk about things that interest the interviewer. Their questions are ALL bad. Every question they ask is a question that is meant to in some way disqualify you. The more you can get them distracted from their questions, the better chances you have. Do they have a sports teams pin on? Pictures of their kids? You bring all of this up... they talk about everything but you and leave the interview with a warm/happy feeling about you.

    Some businesses have recognized the inherent problems with human nature and tried to implement methods to get around them. Unfortunately these systems almost always involve scorecards of some sort. The hiring manager lists out the key skills he's looking for... this is the first problem, the managers expectations are almost always wildly over the top. Their asking for someone with a doctorate and they really need someone with a 2 year degree. The person conducting the interview basically scores you off of your resume. As well as on things like appearance, personality, etc... etc... The solution to this type of interview is rather simple... lie. Just flood your resume with technical data. The interviewer gets so overwhelmed they just score you high, irrelevant of your real skills. Always ware a suit. Suit = 10 points. Anything else is < 10 points. A firm handshake and confidence is easy to fake.

    The simple fact of the matter is, it is impossible to judge someones ability to do the job you want them to do based on a resume and interview. A degree is slightly better, but as we all know the vast majority of people with those degrees have proven nothing more than that they are good at memorizing things for tests. Actually being competent in a working environment is something entirely different. The entire system is flawed to its core. Many people refuse to be misleading in their interview or on their resume and think that shows integrity... when all they really get shown is the door.

    When employers hire people... they hire the people that aggressive at selling themselves as a product... People that are fluent and at ease in an interview. If that person also happens to be good at the job... great! Despite what many people think, if you bluff your way into a job your not qualified for, you don't just get fired immediately. The manager doesn't want to look like a fool for hiring the person and usually they can hang onto the job for as long as they'd like to. Raises and promotions are another thing.

    The basic problem with the workforce today is employers have no idea what they need, and even if they did, they have no way of finding out who has the skills they actually do need. Simple as that.
  • unmentioned factor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Papa Legba (192550) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @03:06PM (#40402337)

    A lot of job postings are also created by going in and asking the person leaving what they do. While on the org chart they were a electrical engineer, over time they took on DB admin because that person got downsized, then network admin when they downsized that person, and janitor, when they got rid of the cleanig service and someone had to vacume and take out the garbage. This continues until the person does no electrical engneering anymore, but spends all his time being a sysadmin.

    So the posted job, based on what the person leaving did, becomes "wanted : electrical engineer. Must have Oracle cert, VMware cert, CCNA, and MCSE and be able to lift 50 pounds reguarly and have a CS degree. " Jobs have so diverged from what the postion was for originally it screws up being able to hire because the listed skills no longer have any reference to the actual job being done.

The F-15 Eagle: If it's up, we'll shoot it down. If it's down, we'll blow it up. -- A McDonnel-Douglas ad from a few years ago

Working...