Category Archives: hiring

Top Performer, Or Just Great at Interviewing?

453124957 -- job interviewI was intrigued by Robert Herjavec’s take on the interviewing process that he recently shared on LinkedIn enough to share it here myself.

He’s the founder of the Herjavec Group, a Toronto-based information-security company, and has a pretty straightforward approach to figuring out if someone you’re interviewing is going to be with you long-term or not.

In order to be part of the team at his company, he says, “you’ve got to be a self-starter, an independent thinker, someone who is comfortable digging in and getting your hands dirty, and ideally, a strong leader … someone capable of clearly communicating your vision to your teammates.”

That could describe many organizations, I’m sure. The trick, he says, is to ensure that’s the person talking to you across your desk, the job candidate who seems to be saying all the right things. As Herjavec puts it:

“Everyone always says they are motivated in an interview. Everyone is comfortable to put in the hours, do whatever it takes to succeed … we hear it all the time. [The key is this:] How do you separate the top performers from those who simply have strong interview skills?”

One of the things he likes to do, he says, is “get to the core of someone’s skill set.” He does this is a nice, smooth, roundabout — some might say tricky — way.

“For example, if I’m interviewing for a sales role, I ask about the individual’s primary motivators. Then I let them know there is an opening in our marketing team and ask if they would be interested in learning more. To me, someone in sales needs to be laser-focused on achieving their target and driving for that number. It’s not the same person that I would hire to work on our marketing or communications team. If you waver in your approach and express interest in the second role, you’re not the person for my team.”

He also asks direct — I’d even call them aggressive — questions during an interview, such as “Why should I hire you?” “Tell me your perspective on our brand.” Or “What’s your take on the latest industry breach or happening?” As he puts it:

“If they can’t handle a conversation with me, I’m not confident to have them engage with our valued customers.”

I love the strategy here. And the aggression. No surprise Herjavec has also enjoyed a career in race-car driving.

No coddling the candidates at Herjavec Group, where multiple members of the executive team are asked to meet each one before he or she is brought on board. I guess a far cry from making sure their candidate experience is an easy and pleasant one. And probably no huge concern that word might get out on college campuses or social-media sites about the rough ordeal in store for would-be employees there.

Perhaps something to consider when you’re looking to upgrade your caliber of new hires … ?


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Making a First (and Fast) Impression

In baseball, there are can’t-miss talents with potential that’s abundantly and immediately clear.

Take Mike Trout, for instance. At age 24, the Anaheim Angels centerfielder/four-time American League All-Star/freakish baseball prodigy’s trophy case already includes the 2012 American League Rookie of the Year, 2014 AL Most Valuable Player and two All-Star Game MVP awards. And, as one of a handful of names on the short list for this year’s AL MVP, he may soon be taking home more hardware.

Then there are late bloomers like the Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista. The right fielder and occasional third baseman showed flashes in his first five years at the big-league level, but not enough to keep him from being jettisoned by four teams between 2004 and 2008. Bautista finally broke out in 2010—his third season with the Jays and first in a full-time role with the club—when he earned his first of six All-Star Game selections. Since then, he’s led baseball in home runs twice, picked up two Hank Aaron awards and bashed his way to three Silver Slugger awards as well.

The point of all this is that some don’t start as strong as others, and being patient with a prospect just might pay off in a big way sometime down the road.

Those in the corporate world, however, apparently don’t have that kind of time.

Consider a recent online survey, in which 319 executives at companies with revenues of at least $1 billion shared their thoughts on entry-level employees. In the poll, 78 percent of respondents said they think employers take less than three months to make a judgment as to whether an entry-level employee is likely to succeed with the organization. Twenty-seven percent said they form an opinion within the first two weeks.

Now, this particular Harris poll was commissioned by Fullbridge Inc., an education technology company with a learning platform that offers “everything students and young professionals need to rise to the next level,” according to Fullbridge.

It’s natural—and not unfair, I think—to be a bit skeptical of this sort of poll, given the company that commissioned it just happens to offer the type of technology designed to make sure these fresh-faced young employees thrive in your organization.

But that’s not really here or there, at least as far as my purposes here are concerned. Misgivings about survey methodology aside, the aforementioned findings—especially the percentage of companies saying new employees essentially have 10 business days to prove themselves—still seem to beg the question: How long should it take to get a good read on a young, new employee’s likelihood for success? For that matter, what sort of variables should factor into making that judgment?

I put those questions to Dave Ulrich, Rensis Likert Professor of Business at the University of Michigan, partner at The RBL Group and frequent contributor to HRE.

Not surprisingly, there’s no specific timeframe for predicting—at least not with any real accuracy—how an entry-level worker’s going to fare over the long haul, says Ulrich. And he cautions against rushing to judge new employees in their first few weeks on the job.

“First impressions limit future impressions,” says Ulrich. “This is sad, because many first impressions are based on visible look and feel, and real impact often comes from insight and ability to manage relationships.”

Still, 90 days or so should be long enough to gain a sense of how an employee’s going to perform, he says, adding that “it’s important to give new employees autonomous responsibility for a task or project to determine their technical skills and cultural fit.”

It’s even more critical, he says, “to know if they have ‘learning agility’ and an ability to adapt and change [when] given new information.”

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Chipotle and the Full-Court Hiring Press

If at some point today you feel overwhelmed, take a second to consider what hiring managers at Chipotle Mexican Grill are up to at the moment.

As you might have heard, the Denver-based casual eatery chain has declared its intentions to bring on 4,000 new employees today, as part of its first-ever National Career Day. According to the company, management teams at each of its 1,800-plus restaurants in the U.S. will hold open interviews for up to 60 applicants between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. this morning, with interested candidates invited to register for a sit-down at the Chipotle of their choice by visiting

Most of the openings are for entry-level crew jobs, which primarily entail taking orders and preparing food, Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold recently told USA Today.

Nevertheless, the people who ultimately fill these positions will have opportunities to grow and advance within the organization, according to Arnold, who points out that Chipotle promoted more than 10,000 of its people into management roles within the last year.

“When we hire crew, we look to identify individuals that we think have the motivation and the capability to move into management or leadership positions,” Arnold told USA Today, adding that this is the first time Chipotle has attempted hiring in such large numbers in such a short timeframe.

It’s certainly an ambitious undertaking that may net Chipotle scores of valuable new employees. And, from a PR perspective, it could be a tremendous (if short-term) boon for the company. But the initiative may wind up having some unintended consequences as well, says Claire Bissot, HR consulting manager at Leawood, Kan.-based CBIZ Human Capital Services.

By offering an extreme number of open positions, “[Chipotle has] the potential to attract individuals from other restaurants who are not currently looking for a job, as well as individuals looking to apply for Chipotle, resulting in a significant increase in their hiring pool.”

At the same time, mass hiring “may also cause individuals who wouldn’t normally make it through the recruiting process to be hired and later terminated.”

The problem with this approach, she says, “is the lost resources for training and onboarding these individuals, causing low retention and high turnover cost. Ultimately, what they are trying to achieve may be counteracted, and what looked like a quick solution could financially impact the company in the near term.”

Marketing would seem to be “the key focus” of a hiring effort like this one, continues Bissot, noting that many organizations could stand to be more efficient in their recruiting and onboarding processes, and more creative in positioning their companies as great places to work.

All that said, however, “adding volume is not always a good solution, and while forcing mass hiring of this volume appears to provide short-term results, doing so could end up hurting companies more.”

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Welcoming Back the Boomerang Employee

Top-notch talent is hard to find. With an improving economy and a more job seeker-friendly labor market adding degrees of difficulties to the search, employers may be wise to seek out familiar faces on the recruiting trail.

So suggests new research released this week, the first study in the Employee Engagement Series, commissioned by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc. and

In the poll, nearly half of 601 HR professionals claimed their organizations previously had a policy against rehiring former employees, even those who left in good standing. Seventy-six percent, however, reported they are now more receptive to the idea of bringing back such workers, with nearly two-thirds of 604 people managers saying the same.

In total, 1,807 respondents completed the survey, with 602 full-time, non-managing employees participating as well. Among these workers, just 15 percent said they had gone back to a former employer, but close to 40 percent indicated they would consider it.

In addition, 85 percent of the HR professionals polled said they have received job applications from former employees in the past five years, and 40 percent reported their organizations hired about half of those applicants seeking a second tour of duty. Fifty-six percent of HR professionals and 51 percent of managers indicated they give “high” or “very high” priority to job applicants who were ex-employees that departed on good terms. (Just 6 percent and 9 percent, respectively, reported giving zero priority to former colleagues.)

This isn’t a new phenomenon, of course. Two years ago, for instance, CareerXRoads found boomerang hires ranking sixth in terms of hiring volume, just behind college recruits.

Julie Cook Ramirez pointed out as much in a 2014 HRE feature. In “Coming Home,” she noted that attitudes toward rehiring former employees began to shift as long ago as the late 1990s, when the dot-com boom sent scores of workers scattering in pursuit of entrepreneurial opportunities and made recruiting a challenge for more established companies.

While there’s always the concern that boomerang employees are a perpetual flight risk, the theoretical value of bringing back proven entities—knowledge of the business and company culture, for example—seems evident. As does the sense in expanding the candidate pool at a time when talent figures to become more scarce.

As for how to create a work environment that would make them want to return? The answer is simple and unsurprising: treat them right the first time.

“The best boomerang strategy for forward-thinking organizations is to ensure that employees are engaged and feel appreciated while at work,” says David Almeda, chief people officer at Kronos, in a statement.

“That way, if employees decide to leave to explore other career options, the organization will be on the short list of employer options if their career situation changes and they are looking for a more positive opportunity.”

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Target Pays the Price for Problematic Assessments

You never have to look far for examples of big companies spending big money to deal with claims of discriminatory employment practices.

This week’s cautionary tale comes courtesy of Target Corp.

On Monday, the Minneapolis-based discount chain agreed to pay $2.8 million to resolve charges of discrimination stemming from employment assessments used by Target, which “disproportionately screened out applicants for exempt-level professional positions based on race and sex,” according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The payout will be distributed among more than 3,000 individuals.

In its investigation of the retail giant, the EEOC determined that the assessment tests Target administered to thousands of candidates—who were ultimately rejected—for upper-level positions were not job-related, and violated Title VII of the Civils Right Act of 1964.

In addition to finding that the assessments unduly eliminated individuals in particular groups from consideration—namely African-Americans, Asians and women, according to the EEOC—the Washington-based agency determined that one of the assessments Target had been using violated the American with Disabilities Act. In this case, applicants were subjected to medical examinations prior to an offer of employment, which, as the EEOC notes, is prohibited by the ADA. Finally, the EEOC found that Target committed recordkeeping violations by failing to maintain records adequately enough to evaluate the impact of its hiring processes.

While maintaining that it didn’t act improperly regarding the assessments, Target did stop using the tests in question during the EEOC’s investigation, and has “agreed to better track its testing process and check for impact based on race, ethnicity and gender,” according to Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder.

In the same statement, Snyder noted that Target had relied on these tests “over the past decade,” and said the EEOC concluded that “only a small fraction of the assessments … could have been problematic.”

The settlement underscores the “quite risky” nature of the pre-employment assessments commonly used by many employers, says Tashwanda Pinchback Dixon, an Atlanta-based attorney at Balch & Bingham, and a member of the firm’s labor and employment and litigation practice groups.

“It’s important that employers take a very close look at these tests and make sure there is a clear link to business necessity,” says Dixon, whose experience includes focusing on Title VII sex and race discrimination claims.

Ensuring such a connection “is even more critical with tests that seek medical information, because of the ADA and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act,” adds Dixon.

In most instances, she says, “a case can be made for business necessity when the position requires manual labor, such as manual lifting requirements.”

In Target’s case, however, “the link to business necessity is not as obvious.”

In light of this week’s settlement, Dixon says that employers should expect their pre-employment assessments to come under scrutiny by candidates and—if brought to its attention—the EEOC.

As such, “employers should also evaluate and monitor whether their assessments have an adverse impact on any protected class,” she says, “including race, gender and individuals with disabilities.”

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The High Cost of Warm Fuzzies

I admit the following with a recently delivered dash of remorse: I am an avowed Amazon Prime customer and I always get a “warm fuzzy” when a product I ordered in the morning arrives on my front porch before I even get home from work.

With that said, reading the New York Timesrecent in-depth look at Amazon’s corporate culture definitely left me with a “cold prickly,” or what the company calls the feeling customers get when they are informed their packages will not arrive as scheduled.

In case you haven’t read the piece yet — and I highly recommend you do — the Times “interviewed more than 100 current and former Amazon employees, including many who spoke on the record and some who requested anonymity because they had signed agreements saying they would not speak to the press.”

One of the few employees Amazon allowed to speak on the record (via email) for the piece was its vice president of HR, who defended the company’s attitude toward open confrontation in the workplace:

“We always want to arrive at the right answer,” said Tony Galbato, vice president for human resources, in an email statement. “It would certainly be much easier and socially cohesive to just compromise and not debate, but that may lead to the wrong decision.”

The story about the company that has just been valued at $250 billion has generated enough controversy that founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who declined to be interviewed for the original story, nonetheless felt compelled to push back against some of the more damaging claims made in it, according to a follow-up piece by the Times:

In a letter to employees, Mr. Bezos said Amazon would not tolerate the “shockingly callous management practices” described in the article. He urged any employees who knew of “stories like those reported” to contact him directly.

“Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero,” Mr. Bezos said.

The NYT piece quotes Jason Merkoski, a 42-year-old engineer, who worked on the team developing the first Kindle e-reader and served as a technology evangelist for Amazon, who left the company in 2010 and then returned briefly in 2014.

Among the many disheartening stories of uncaring — or even malicious — co-workers, Merkoski’s quote perhaps best sums up the queasy essence of how work gets done there:

“The sheer number of innovations means things go wrong, you need to rectify, and then explain, and heaven help you if you got an email from Jeff,” he said. “It’s as if you’ve got the CEO of the company in bed with you at 3 a.m. breathing down your neck.”

Jason Averbook, CEO of The Marcus Buckingham Co., and one of the top thought leaders in the space of HR, workforce and enterprise technology — as well as being named as one of the 10 Most Powerful HR Technology experts by HRE — says the Amazon story offers a few powerful lessons for HR leaders everywhere.

“We need to be able to understand the pulse of employees much better than we do today,” he says. “It should never get to the point where employees see news media or social media as the only resort.

“And for a metrics-driven organization such as Amazon, it’s a shame and a shock that neither Bezos nor team leaders across the organization have quality people data that shows what’s at work in their teams. Because of this dearth of people data, we cannot truly know what their culture is like, and this situation emphasizes the need for reliable, real-time measures of team-level data for companies of all sizes.”

Averbook adds that companies need to “be doing a much better job of putting tools into the hands of team leaders themselves to empower them to take action.”

With the volume of millennials entering the workplace — even in managerial roles — “we need to provide both the training and tools to allow them to lead effectively,” he says. “It’s a reminder for companies to take a look at their current processes and identify how they need to improve now.

“This is the kick in the pants HR and companies need,” he adds. “If there was ever a question about the return on investment of HR tools and processes, the Amazon debacle should resolve those concerns as long as they are the right tools and processes.”

But, despite the public-relations black eye the story has caused Amazon, it certainly appears the company will continue to grow toward being the first trillion-dollar retailer in history, regardless of how we feel about the way our packages and products ultimately get to us.

Indeed, in Seattle alone, according to the piece, “more than 4,500 jobs are open, including one for an analyst specializing in ‘high-volume hiring.’ “

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Intel’s Diversity Progress is Now ‘In the Book’

Considering all the steps Intel’s leaders have been taking to improve diversity at the giant Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker, it should 79084610 --diversity in techcome as no surprise that the company’s first mid-year Diversity in Technology Report released last week shows considerable progress.

Details of that progress — mentioned in a blog post by Chief Diversity Officer Rosalind Hudnell and a public letter to employees from Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich —  include the fact that Intel is now “tracking to 43 percent of its diverse hires in 2015,” exceeding its U.S. goal for 2015 of 40 percent, according to the report.

Also, it says, more blacks and women are now working at Intel than were at the beginning of the year. Of new employees this year, 35 percent were women and 5 percent were black, well above Intel’s current workforce representation. In addition, according to the report, more women and minorities are in leadership today at Intel than at the beginning of the year, with an 11-percent increase for senior women employees and a 19-percent increase in senior leadership for blacks. In her blog post, Hudnell touts her organization’s commitment, from the top down, to improving these numbers:

“Our team has used the same laser focus that has brought innovation to the world [around] the issue of diversity and inclusion.  And while we have strengthened our focus in our programs, systems and measurements, the game changer has been the level of accountability driven from the top.”

Indeed, in January, Krzanich announced plans to make Intel more representative of the U.S. population by 2020, with some $300 million dedicated to the effort. Four months later, he unveiled some impressive movement in that direction that I blogged about at the time.

More recently, on July 29, the company announced it would double its referral bonus for employees who help the organization diversify its workforce. Specifically, as Senior Editor Andrew R. McIlvaine blogged the next day, employees who refer a woman, underrepresented minority or veteran who is ultimately hired will receive $4,000.

Mind you, Intel is not alone among Silicon Valley’s tech companies to address this, or to open its books for the public to see exactly where it stands when it comes to women and minority hiring. Way back in May of 2014, Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations for Google, came clean with the public on his company’s numbers in an effort to move the needle, according to this blog post by Editor David Shadovitz.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama issued a call to action to the tech industry, asking companies to step up their game on workforce diversity. Seven of the 14 companies responding to his challenge — including Intel — have agreed to try out something called the Rooney Rule, which was implemented in 2003 in the National Football League by Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney.

Basically, according to the rule (which Rooney was applying to head-coach hiring), at least one woman and one minority must be considered for every open position. This story goes into far more detail about the rule, and its pros and cons.

I think what impresses me the most about what’s happening in the Silicon Valley around diversity in technology is the transparency serving as a kind of foundation to it all. Bock’s unveiling was a breath of fresh air. And now, at least according to Krzanich, Intel is sharing “more data than any company in our industry,” specifically “more information that [what’s] available on the EEO-1 form or [what’s] been reported in the past for our U.S. workforce.”

That has to be the best road to the kind of sweeping, mammoth demographic change being called for here — to openly admit reality in order to create a new one. Hudnell’s post certainly speaks to this. As she puts it, Intel’s intention “is to do all we can to collaborate and share openly so that what we all desire becomes the reality.”

Not a bad rule to live by, whatever business change you’re trying to effect.





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A Coalition to Put Youth to Work

According to recent Pew Research Center statistics, more than one quarter of America’s nearly 8 million unemployed individuals are between the ages of 16 and 24.

Tomorrow, more than two dozen big-name U.S.-based employers will be in Chicago to launch an initiative that has designs on helping thousands of these out-of-school and out-of-work young adults find jobs.

The Opportunity Fair & Forum—starting at 8 a.m. at McCormick Place Convention Center and featuring a performance by hip-hop artist, actor and Chicago native Common—will kick off the 100,000 Opportunities program, a Starbucks-led alliance that seeks to “jump start the future” of young Americans who are neither in school nor employed, according to USA Today.

In addition to the Seattle-based specialty coffee retailer, nearly 30 other companies—including Chipotle Mexican Grill, CVS Health, Microsoft and Target—are expected to be on hand at the day-long resource and job fair. They will be joined by more than 3,000 young Chicagoans and their families for a variety of interactive experiences as well as workshops, college counseling, skill-development activities and other events.

Employers participating in tomorrow’s forum are expected to make hundreds of on-the-spot job offers to attendees, which would be quite an auspicious start for the month-old endeavor.

Spearheaded by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz—who earlier this year pledged to hire 10,000 young, low-income individuals to work at Starbucks by the end of 2018—the coalition currently counts 29 companies as members. That number includes a dozen organizations—FedEx, Hyatt, Nordstrom, Pizza Hut and T-Mobile, for example—that just signed on last week.

Faced with a recovering labor market and a subsequently smaller pool of job candidates, these employers certainly have good, practical reasons to get on board.

The aforementioned USA Today piece points out as much.

“As the unemployment rate has dipped, the pool of workers available for entry-level jobs has shrunk,” the paper notes. “And for many companies that want to expand their footprint in urban markets, engaging disconnected youth, who are disproportionately African-American and Latino, makes business sense.”

True enough. But making business sense isn’t the only reason why 100,000 Opportunities came to be, says Sheri Schultz, wife of the Starbucks CEO and co-founder of the Schultz Family Foundation, which describes itself as “a launchpad for young adults in transition.”

“We know that this is a complex issue, and we need all of our collective horsepower to solve it,” Schultz told USA Today. “For too long, it’s been the non-profit and public sectors tackling this issue, without meaningful involvement from the private sector.”

The program certainly has ambitious goals. And even if 100,000 Opportunities doesn’t hit its target of creating 100,000 jobs for unemployed youth by the end of 2018, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which the participating companies—and scores of young job seekers—don’t benefit from its existence.

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No Confidence Crisis in HR Job Market

If you’re an HR professional seeking new career opportunities, the results of a recent Society for Human Resource Management survey should offer some encouragement.

And, if you’re an HR leader hoping to keep your team intact through the ongoing economic recovery, these same findings may be cause for just a bit of concern.

The Alexandria, Va.-based organization’s recent poll of 423 human resource professionals examined hiring trends in the HR profession as well as HR professionals’ faith in their own job security and ability to find work elsewhere.

Overall, 88 percent of participants expressed some level of confidence that they could land a new position if necessary. This figure represents a 3 percent increase from December 2014, and a 9 percent jump from January 2014, according to SHRM’s Summer 2015 HR Jobs Pulse Survey Report. Of that 88 percent, 59 percent said they were “somewhat” confident, and 29 percent described themselves as “very” confident in their ability to find another job.

That self-assurance was seen at the higher levels as well, where 89 percent of executive-level, senior-level and mid-career level respondents expressed “some degree of faith that they could find work if necessary.”

While many respondents report being content in their current roles, 28 percent of those surveyed said they are already looking for a new job. Among this group, 24 percent indicated they were voluntarily seeking greener pastures. Another 22 percent said they were either “likely” or “very likely” to start a job search within the next 12 months.

And what has this group eyeing the exits? No surprise here: 37 percent of those who are currently looking or plan to be in the next year cited more compensation as the primary reason. Another 33 percent noted better career advancement opportunities, with 32 percent saying they were in search of better overall organizational culture.

The brimming confidence in the HR job market seems well-placed, at least in terms of opportunities with large employers. Just 1 percent of small companies (99 employees or less) are recruiting for HR positions, but 65 percent of organizations with 25,000 or more workers are now hiring for HR jobs, according to the SHRM report.

On the whole, fewer than three in 10 (27 percent) of respondents said their organizations were currently hiring for HR-related positions.

But, it only stands to reason that that number is higher among large companies, where employers and HR job seekers alike figure to benefit from the rebounding job market, said Jen Schramm, SHRM manager of workforce trends, in a statement.

“Hiring for HR positions depends greatly on the size of the company,” noted Schramm. “Larger companies employ more HR professionals, so it makes sense that they are more likely to report that they are trying to fill HR positions, especially during a jobs recovery. Improvements in the job market are also making HR professionals more confident about seeking out new opportunities for themselves.”

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H-1B: Disney Retreats; DOL Investigates

The Walt Disney Co.’s Disney ABC Television Group appears to be backing off from a layoff announcement two weeks ago, in which it had told a group of approximately 35 of its IT workers that their jobs were being outsourced to Cognizant Technology Solutions, a New Jersey-based company with large overseas operations. But now, reports Computerworld, those IT workers have been told that the layoff has been canceled.

Some of the IT workers who were to be laid off were told by Disney/ABC managers they would have to train their replacements before leaving, Computerworld reports. This is, of course, reminiscent of the move by Disney’s Parks and Resorts division to outsource 250 IT jobs to workers allegedly brought in under the H-1B visa program and have many of those employees train their replacements in order to receive severance. The furor this created when it was reported recently by mainstream publications such as the New York Times may have led Disney to cancel the latest layoffs, a source told Computerworld.

“They [Disney officials] want this to go away — right now,” said the source, a Disney/ABC IT employee who asked not to be named.

A source at Disney confirmed to Computerworld that the layoff had been rescinded. Although Cognizant is a major user of H-1B visas, it is unclear whether any of the workers in the Disney/ABC project had been brought in under the program.

Other companies besides Disney have come under fire for replacing their IT workers with H-1B visa holders, including Southern California Edison. The Department of Labor has announced it will investigate two outsourcing companies, Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services, for possible violations of rules for H-1B visa holders in conjunction with work they did for Southern California Edison. Those two companies, along with several others, are the biggest recipients of H-1B visa allotments each year. Sen. Bill Nelson, D.-Fla., has also called for an investigation of the H-1B program.

The fracas continues to focus more negative attention on the H-1B program. In a post on his blog, longtime tech observer and consultant Robert X. Cringely labels the  H-1B program “a scam” and says the argument that it’s necessary due to a shortage of technical talent here in the United States is false. He quotes an anonymous source, identified as a former chief technology officer at several companies, who said that — throughout his career — H-1B visa holders were routinely brought in by companies as a cheaper alternative to hiring more-expensive American tech workers: “The reason of course was $$$.  The H1B’s cost approx. 1/3rd or 1/4th the cost of the comparable American in the same job.”

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