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Dr. Norm Matloff On The Tech Industry Partying Like It`s 1999
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May 21, 2011, 03:05 AM
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Dr. Norm Matloff writes
Interesting headline chosen by the editor here—"Tech Jobs Boom Like It`s 1999." [USA TODAY, April 20, 2011] As most of you know, the dot-com bust started in the following year, 2000. The year 2000 is also the year in which Congress increased the yearly H-1B cap from 130,000 to 195,000.

There are other similarities to 1999, such as this one:

Google, Facebook and Microsoft are aggressively recruiting college students in hopes of landing them before they graduate...
Note the qualifier "college students." If you`re over 35, it`s a different story; unless you are very special in some way, you`ll probably be rejected without even a phone interview. Young is cheap, remember always. As I`ve said so often, the biggest goal of H-1B is to expand the under-35 labor pool. Same for the proposals for fast-track green cards for new foreign graduates of U.S. universities.

The press reports, fed by industry PR experts, read like 1999 too, highlighting a hip startup that wants experience in a specific skill:

Meebo, whose technology weaves your social networks and instant-messaging services into one spot, is offering $10,000 bonuses to anyone whose job referral leads to the hiring of JavaScript engineers.
Meebo can`t find good JavaScript developers? This is really hard to believe. It`s not a deep technology, and it`s certainly commonplace, so I have to wonder just how hard Meebo is trying to find people.

And again, is Meebo really just looking for the young workers? I`ve raised this issue specifically with Meebo before. (The firm has become a common company that journalists are referred to for quotes on H-1B and "shortages.") Here`s what I wrote about them in 2007:

Let`s look at the article`s poster company, Meebo. They`ve got pictures of all their staff (http://blog.meebo.com/team), and all the engineers are clearly young. Then look at their opening for a C/C++ programmer (http://blog.meebo.com/?page_id=255). They want "3-5+ years of C/C++ software development experience on Linux/Unix." That`s very typical. The industry wants people with 3-7 years of experience—and typically not more than that. Beyond that, people are just too expensive. The job description is filled with what might be taken to be code words for "young": "We’re seeking a bright, energetic, and dedicated team player ...While the environment is fun and friendly, it’s really fast paced: schedules are measured in days not weeks and our team is obsessed with delivering the best user experience possible." I can`t say whether this particular firm is concentrating on hiring young people, but this is the usual pattern.
The "team" pictures are still there on their site. Look at the engineers (engineers, not the managers, lawyers etc.), and draw your own conclusions.

Norm