Tunnel Rat posted on July 15, 2007 16:11

More to come about the One Week Job, but now it is time to shed some light on the shady practice of hiring foreign programmers at below-market rates. To do this companies must prove that they can't find qualified American developers.

There is no programmer shortage, just a bunch of fake job ads. According to Programmers Guild:

Last summer Americans were shocked by the 7th annual Cohen & Grigsby immigration law seminar3 in which immigration attorneys explained how not to hire qualified Americans during the PERM recruitment process. The solution is not to eliminate this token requirement, but rather to reform both the H-1B and green card processes to require a good-faith, open, and public recruiting process.

Here a lawyer explains how American companies can post bogus job ads to prove that there are no U.S. citizens available to take hi-tech jobs:



This number is not fabricated, it comes directly from this:

Increasingly, Indian consulting firms (off-shorers and cross-border body shoppers) such as InfoSys and TATA, are operating in the U.S.A. and discriminate against Americans who are not of Indian descent. These firms pay wages that are 25% below market rate. This harms not only U.S. workers, but also U.S. consulting firms who can no longer competitively bid on public and private sector contracts.


Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) vice president Phiroz Vandrevala even admitted that his company enjoys a competitive advantage because of its extensive use of foreign workers in the United States on H-1B and L-1 visas. "Our wage per employee is 20-25 per cent less than US wages for a similar employee," Vandrevala said. "Typically, for a TCS employee with five years experience, the annual cost to the company is $60,000-70,000, while a local American employee might cost $80,000-100,000. "This (labour arbitrage) is a fact of doing work onsite. It's a fact that Indian IT companies have an advantage here and there's nothing wrong in that. The issue is that of getting workers in the US on wages far lower than the local wage rate."

After a few days at my new gig, which sucks, I decided to get a little adventurous and post this on Craigslist:

Yes, I admit it –I get paid too much and do too little. In my last three contract positions as a C# developer I have made over $75,000 and spent most of my time sitting around. Considering all the training I have, not to mention the countless hours and dollars I have spent keeping my skills current, I can’t believe I can’t find someone who can fully utilize my skills and leverage my fourteen years of IT experience.

To give you an idea, I had one gig where I was hired by a giant Japanese corporation to making enhancements to an existing time tracking system. It was a three month contract, and I was done in a week. I mostly sat around for the several weeks, blogging, learning some new technologies, and knocking out the trivial tasks that were occasionally assigned to me. It wasn’t like I was scamming them – my manager pretty much told me to stop bugging him for things to do.

My next contract had me working at an established dot-com rolling out a new web site. They needed some back end work done and all I had to do was enhance an existing C# application that called a stored procedure, created a couple of text files based on some business rules, and FTP’d the data. For this engineering challenge, I was hired for a six month contract.

I was done in three weeks. That included UML diagrams, unit testing, documentation, and deployment.

For the rest of my stay at this dot-com, I rewrote their entire outbound data feed system using multi-threaded Windows Services that were entirely XML driven. That took a couple of months, but I needed to look busy. Too bad that their QA department was backlogged by several months, so the application gathered dust while I built NUnit tests and generated a 100 page technical spec with NDoc. I turned down their offer of a full-time job because I was bored and wanted to do more web development.

Most recently, I am at a dysfunctional non-profit that knows little about .NET. They make extensive use of clipboard inheritance and block-boxes written by long-gone contractors that are routinely disparaged. Every now and then one of the cowboys on the team will come by and tell me to copy a few hundred lines of code from some class and make a new web page that is sort of, kind of, like another one. If I suggest that maybe a user control is the way to go so that we can encapsulate the logic, I get a terse response and irritated glare. “We don’t have time for anything fancy – just get it done.” So I hold my nose, copy and paste, and dream of better things.

That brings me to your needs.

Do you even know what you are doing? Can you scope out a project, define the requirements, dictate an architectural vision, staff the job properly with talent, and oversee your staff in a manner that allows them to excel?

Or are you just another poser, throwing bodies at the problem, mumbling clichés and acronyms as your staff lounges, blogs, fiddles around with Ajax, LINQ, or whatever is cool and utterly irrelevant to your project?

Now be honest. You know who you are, so don’t call me. I’ll just get in your shop, figure out that you don’t know what you are doing, and rack up tons of billable hours. Of course, I’ll complete all the little assignments you give me in a fraction of the time you allocated on your Gantt chart, and then surf the net or dabble in XAML. All on your dime.

However, if you think you can keep me challenged and busy with meaningful, substantial work involving ASP.NET, C#, and SQL, I’d like to hear from you.

Oh sure, you’ll be skeptical and bombard me with all sorts of technical questions in the interview (maybe after you Googled for some), and I’ll answer most if not all of them.

We can talk about multi-cast delegates, Manual Reset Events, the maximum amount of threads that a Wait Handle can monitor, Datasets vs. DataReaders, @@IDENTITY vs. SCOPE_INDENTY(), inheritance and interfaces, yada, yada, yada…

You get the idea – I’ve been doing this stuff for a while.

But before you contact me, ask yourself these questions:

1. Can you keep a sharp, hardworking developer engaged, productive, and motivated?
2. Will you or your staff feel insecure if he knocks out deliverables at a blinding pace in a thorough, well-designed, disciplined manner?
3. Are you able to give this hired gun all the tools he needs? That means something other than the 14” CRT and the Pentium 3 that you throw at other contractors. (No joke, I actually had someone hire me at $50/hr to program in .NET on a P3 with 128 MB or RAM. This was a few months ago – needless to say, I left that gig after three weeks.)

If you are not already ashamed and indignant because you can’t meet these criteria, send me an email.

Don’t worry; I’m articulate, friendly and personable. I’ll be worth every dollar of my billable rate, and I won’t waste your time (that is, unless you want me to).

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- Vineet Nayar, CEO, HCL Technologies

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