“A Failed Recruitment”

One of the listservs that I subscribe to circulated a message today titled, “Any recent grads with an interest in transportation planning and GIS [geographic information services]?”  As many of you will recall, one of my central criticisms of tech employers’ claims of labor shortages is that they don’t reveal that they are unwilling to hire those over age 35.  They mainly want the new or recent graduates, who are cheaper in both wages and benefits.

Thus the title of the above e-mail message caught my eye.  But the body of the message is most interesting (bold-face emphasis mine):

XXXX County Transportation Commission…had a recent failed recruitment for a GIS staff member. The job description is attached.

I’ve been asked if I could beat the bushes for any recent graduates
(undergraduate or graduate level.) with a mixture of interest in land
use planning, transportation planning, and GIS skills.

If you’ve got any good candidates, please ask them to contact YYYY…

Did you catch that phrasing, “a failed recruitment”?  Keep this in mind the next time a tech industry lobbyist or ally makes a statement like “Employers can’t find the workers we need.”  Yes, they “beat the bushes,” but only ones that grow on university campuses.

The fact that the job in question was a government agency is irrelevant, as it’s the same in the private sector.  Job requisitions are typically earmarked to given level of experience, the NCGs and RCGs (new and recent graduates) in Intel parlance.

Not to pick on Intel — they are typical — but they do form an exemplar for the problem.  Former Intel CEO/Chairman Craig Barrett famously said, “The half life of an engineer, hardware or software, is only a few years,” and Tim Jackson’s book Inside Intel reported a practice in the firm of “bumping” (their term) out older workers.  An Intel job posted in 2013 at http://www.linkedin.com/jobs?viewJob=&jobId=4750771&srchIndex=3 (taken down after I wrote about it), overtly restricted to new or recent college graduates, just like the GIS job shown above.

A revealing look into Intel’s NCG/RCG policy is in Dawn Kamamoto’s piece in the excellent series she and Dice did last year.  Note in particular the passage (again, emphasis mine),

When it comes to finding engineers with advanced degrees, Intel’s proactive. It posts jobs on a number of websites, advertises through social networks, contacts universities and holds job fairs in the U.S. When it’s seeking to fill a position, it basically doesn’t care whether it’s a U.S. citizen or H-1B worker who fills it.

At college job fairs, however, the candidates with advanced degrees tend to be foreign students. In fact, most of the H-1B workers at Intel were hired through its college recruitment efforts. In some circumstances, the company isn’t able to find a suitable candidate on campus at all. In those cases, it resorts to other means.

The bold-face text makes the point — Intel is mainly seeking NCGs or RCGs, resorting to broader (but not much broader) venues only if there is a “failed recruitment” for NCGs/RCGs.  The later reference to research conferences does the same. Just as in the GIS case, it is clear that Intel’s definition of “beating the bushes” mainly involves the young.

The industry’s excuse?  “Older workers tend not to have the latest skill sets.”  I’ve explained in great detail before why this is a red herring, and in any case, even the industry concedes that many older workers do have the skill sets of interest to them.  If they really were beating the bushes, they’d try harder to find such workers.  In my experience, such workers are already in their databases, just dismissed for not being NCGs/RCGs.

3 thoughts on ““A Failed Recruitment”

  1. Amen.
    Something that caught my eye when mining the LCA databases the other day.
    They say they are looking for the exceptional which to me says the computer scientists.

    But when I look at the computer scientists percentage of LCA applications, I find that they have only applied for 5.18% of the total jobs available

    Yet when I look at Computer Systems Analyst positions, I see that they have applied for 17.27% of all available computer systems analysts positions.

    And when I look at computer programmers positions, I see that they have applied for 18.27% of all computer programmer positions.

    Folks, I spent nearly 3 decades working in both of these positions and I can guarantee you that you do not need to be the best and brightest to be exceptional in these two fields.

    But you do need to be resourceful, which is one of my skills.

    So tell me.

    If Mark Zuckerberg can go on the FWD.us site and put together a video stating that it is not that complicated to be a computer programmer, why are we throwing so many Americans like myself under the bus?

    Want to look at the totals that I have found so far?


    Mark, trust me.

    I’m going to continue digging.

    That is a promise.


  2. I agree that many tech employers’ seem unwilling to hire those over age 35. If you look at the third graph and set of tables at http://econdataus.com/h1binfo.htm you’ll see that over 80 percent of initial H-1B hires are under 35. Likewise, the tables and graphs at http://econdataus.com/h1bage.htm show that the H-1B visas are being used to bring in YOUNG workers. As you can see, the ages of non-citizens working in the industry spikes sharply in the 31 to 35 year range. This demand is likely motivated by the fact that young workers are cheaper, easier to take advantage of, and can be dumped for a new batch of young workers when their visas run out and/or they start standing up for themselves. ALL workers should likely start looking over their shoulders as they approach their 50s, if not before.


  3. I went to LinkedIn a few years ago and everyone I saw looked to be under 30, white, or Asian.

    The divide decades ago used to be that the developers were from other countries, and the sales / marketing / HR were American. But I’ve seen some more recent tech companies even shift away from that, hiring less and less Americans.

    Why doesn’t the Department of Fair Housing and Employment take on these prejudiced practices? This is ludicrous.


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