Everyone wants great value, but at what cost.
ALL BLACKS LOVE FRIED CHICKEN, ALL ASIANS ARE CHINESE, AND INDIANS ARE THE BEST AT TECH!
An expensive lesson regarding professional stereotypes
by The Social Media Millionaire for The Jordan Effect
Kissimmee, Florida -- It seems like from the very first moment that I heard about the Internet, the suggestion has always been that the best programmers, developers, database administrators, engineers, or what seems to be EVERYTHING tech-related are from India, and they are almost ridiculously inexpensive to hire. Considering the stereotypically learned work ethic, and social disciplines assumingly indigenous to most Eastern world cultures, you'd think that this would be true. But just like every African American's favorite meal is not fried chicken and watermelon, every person of north and central Asian descent is not obviously Chinese, and every person from Mexico is not a drug-runner or gang member, though President Trump and Jeff Sessions would want you to believe otherwise, you should not instantly assume that every person whose last name is Patel or Kumar is the best person for that tech contract or employment.
Now, this is not a shot to the millions of respectable technologists of Indian descent who perform their hired tasks to a level that is practically intimidating to us mere mortal Americans. You are truly phenoms. But I have learned firsthand that stereotypes are not always accurate. Choose to follow that stereotype if you'd like but don't say that you haven't been duly warned.
STEREOTYPES. I've met 6'9" black guys who couldn't play basketball to save their lives. I've met small-footed little people who made my hopes and dreams regarding my own sexual adequacy, especially for a man who wears a size 12/13 respectively, cause me to disturbingly rush out of the shower at my local gym due to sudden feelings of, well, possible "inadequacy." And one of the most alluring women that I have ever met in my life was plus-sized and loving it! So while most stereotypes are rooted in some degree of truth, let's not allow this to be the only barometer used in all things related to hiring people for our company or projects.
THE SOLUTION. You want to get into the habit of using the same tools that you would apply for a prospective contractor from Korea, Russia, Canada, or Chile as you would with a prospect from India. This is the best way to ensure that you will not suddenly find yourself looking for this ghost of an employee or contractor that you sent hard-earned money to develop that iPhone app, and who has now seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth.
New and young business owners and professionals are often duped in this area. I mean, I get it. Resources are limited, and you have to save wherever you can. But before failing to take the proper measures to pre-screen and qualify that prospect before hiring them or before paying out a single dime, it would be a very wise business decision to perform the normal checks and balances.
When I started in technology back in the 90's, people were being taken advantage of even then. But the degree of scams when it came to hiring processes was nothing like it is today. In 2018, "Catfishing" has definitely gone corporate.
I met a techpreneur years ago who shared this story with me:
BACK STORY: He had just opened a new office in downtown Atlanta on its famed Peachtree Street at the outskirts of the Midtown area. In his case, he personally conducted much of the final hiring for new tech personnel - Flash developers, CNAs, CNEs, DBAs, DBEs, MCSEs, and programmers fluent in Visual Basic for example. But he also needed video editors, illustrators, and graphic artists. One of the guys that he interviewed had recently graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta, which is notorious for providing great talent.
The guy that he interviewed had a stunning portfolio of work. The illustrations, images, and techniques applied were remarkable. He spoke with the young man who seemed virtually on fire to do anything just to become a partof the team. He appeared to be talented, personable, and a team player. He was anxious to hire this guy before anyone else got the chance.
But when the young man began working, the team lead noticed that he was much slower than the rest of the team. It seemed as if he was having difficulty in areas that should have been rudimentary to someone hired in his position and with his experience. And the quality of his work was not anywhere near what they all found in the young man's portfolio.
Eventually, his performance began to impede the rest of the team. He was not able to provide collateral within the time frames that had been designated, and the team required his work in order to proceed. The team lead, who happened to be of Indian descent, was left with no alternative but to speak with my friend who had participated in the final interviewing process. The team lead explained the concern. He expressed in an nutshell that we possibly had been sold a bad set of goods. The guy may not have been all that he had told them.
The head of the company invited the young man in to discuss the team's concerns. He asked the guy to bring his portfolio with him.
During the meeting, he began to inquire while looking through the portfolio, more specifically, what he had actually contributed to the various projects. Fortunately, the young man came clean. His contribution on the work within his portfolio turned out to be equivalent to God's creation of man, and then getting this guy to polish the toe nails. The challenge came when this guy - the toe nail polisher - proceeded to lead anyone who happened to inquire into believing that this incredible creation - that's man, and not a great gloss on the toes - was his own. Ultimately, that company negligently spent thousands of dollars in salary paid to that single employee because they presumed, based on the school he had attended and this unconfirmed portfolio, that the young man had performed a majority of the work. While the company could have blamed the young man for misleading them, the owner blamed himself for not having a system that consistently tested a prospect's talent and creative legitimacy regardless of the school he or she may have attended, the answers given during the interview, or the work that may have been presented.
So What Happened Next
After that, he developed a series of rigorous, onsite tests for individuals he was interested in hiring to make certain that they were able to not merely do as they claimed, but were proficient enough to rise to the level of productivity and creativity that the team required.
Early on, I personally hired through eLance, Fiverr, and a number of other sites specifically targeting people of Indian descent for contract work. I had bought into the stereotypes as well. I had repeated the same error as my friend. And then their rates were so reasonable. It appeared to be a real deal.
I set up the PayPal account, and advanced the money before they did any of the work. I assumed that was standard procedure. The unfortunate result is that on more occasions than I am willing to embarrassingly admit, many of those early hires either disappeared the moment they received the funds, turned out to be a completely bogus hire or company, or was unable to do half of what I needed him or her to do.
The funny part is while I foolishly thought that I was saving money and getting one heck of a deal, I ended up losing both money and, at least in a few instances, actual clients because I had been duped. I failed to perform the simplest of checks and balances because they were Indian. I couldn't believe it! In my mind, people of Indian descent began technical training practically from birth. But I learned the hard and expensive way that this is definitely not always the case.
THE NEW MILLENNIUM. Today, it's not nearly as expensive or time-consuming to protect yourself as it was back in the early days of the Internet. You may be able to save yourself a great deal of headache and heartache by performing just a few steps to confirm that (1) your prospect is a real person; (2) he or she has successfully performed the kind of work that you are hiring them for with other companies or business people; and (3) they are not simply about to run off with your money. When you are preparing to hire that new contractor or employee online, here's a couple of recommendations to lessen your chances of getting screwed like me:
1. Do not commit to a large initial payment. Services such as PayPal guarantee your money for up to 120 days. Many also offer processes which will allow you to escrow the amount until you confirm that the work has been completed.
2. Ask for comps or examples of other work he or she has done. Be certain to ask what role they played in the development of the project presented, and don't be afraid to ask for references, especially with a company that is currently using whatever it is that the prospective contractor provided them.
3. Get into the habit of presenting 3 contracts - a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), a non-compete agreement, and an employment or independent contractor agreement. If you do anything with live or pre-recorded video or audio streaming, I recommend that you always keep release or consent agreements near so that you may legally use the image of individuals interviewed or featured in your videos or as a still image online.
4. Give the prospect a small task to perform so that you can get a real-world feel for their level of proficiency and efficiency. While scammers may be able to claim someone else's work and even give you the name of a person who provides a great reference, they are not clairvoyant. In other words, they will not have something readily available that you happen to come up with off-the-top of your head to test their ability. If they can, you just may want to hire them anyway if for no other reason than to predict the best future for your company as well.
I continue to strongly encourage the hiring of the best person for your project. And even though you should not make decisions purely based on stereotypes, Indian tech professionals often render amazing results, though the cost varies. But there are also millions of American, Canadian, Japanese, South African, and French candidates for example who do great work as well. The key is to apply the same measure of scrutiny and screening across the board. If you find a trend, 9 times out of 10 it's because you have discovered a great vein and process for acquiring great talent. And that goes for Indian hires as well.
N. D. Brennan is a contributor to this piece. He is also the author of the soon-to-be-released "51 Successful Business Tips For Millennials" and the creative mind behind The Social Media Millionaire Book Series. 51 Successful Business Tips For Millennials is scheduled to be available for pre-order on October 15, 2018, as an eBook at www.Amazon.com and in paperback at www.CreateSpace.com . N. D. Brennan may also be contacted at email@example.com.