Some large and well-known consulting companies are known for hiring graduates
on average salaries and then charging really high rates (higher than most
experienced consultants charge) for their time. I can not think of any
logical explanation for this.
I suggest that any manager who is considering the services of a consulting or
outsourcing company request a copy of the CV of every employee of that company
who is going to work for them, and that the CV should contain test results from
reliable 3rd party testing organizations (such as
(Sylvan Prometric) proving
that these employees have relevant skills. If the employees are good then
their CVs should show this. Also if they have skills then getting the test
results will take a couple of hours of their time and a couple of hundred
dollars in test fees.
For what it's worth I scored 94% on the IBM C programming test and 86% on the
IBM C++ certification test (both tests were administered by Sylvan Prometric).
I believe that IBM's tests are fair and difficult (I failed the test on
installing and supporting OS/2 Warp even though I have installed that OS on
machines that IBM's tech support people say won't run it). I believe that
these tests are difficult enough that no graduate is likely to pass any of
them. But a company should not be expecting a graduate when they pay $100 per
hour for someone's time!
Another thing that I suggest doing when bringing in a consulting company to
a project would be to analyse the market and determine how much each of the
employees of the consulting company is likely to get paid (this is not too
difficult with the recruiting companies advertising rates on the Internet).
If the company wants $2000 per day for an employee's time and you estimate
that the employee is receiving $1000 per day then it's probably reasonable
value for money. If the company wants $2000 per day for a graduate who is
almost certainly getting less than $200 per day then I consider a markup of
over 900% to be excessive and unreasonable. The options are to either only
allow the consulting company to bring in more senior people, or to find another
company. Then they could use some of the $1800 per day per person they save
to give pay rises and other incentives to permanent employees.
Many people wonder about whether they should apply for work at one of these
large consulting companies and why these companies have such strange methods of
Firstly if you are a graduate and looking for work then one of these companies
will look closely at your high school results. I think it's reasonable to pay
some attention to the high school results, but generally if the results are
good enough to get into a computer science or engineering degree course then
most people would regard them as good enough. I've found that the material I
learnt in high school is sometimes useful in discussions in bars (particularly
organic chemistry regarding alcohol). But it has little relevance to computer
programming work. Even the material I learnt in the "Computer Studies" subject
is of no use to me (the stuff that is useful I had already learnt before I
started high school).
The consulting companies don't think so and it's known that if you have any
marks that don't count as a distinction (or A) then it will limit your chances
of gaining employment at such a company.
Now we have to theorise as to why this is. One theory is that it's too difficult
to try and assess accurately how well someone might be able to do the job (this
would require tests and detailed interviews) so it's easier to use the
high school results and just add up the numbers. However the consulting
companies will often conduct more detailed interviews than other companies. My
theory of the moment is that it's what the marks indicate about the personality
that is important to them. As a general rule students don't decide to aim for
the highest marks, there are many other things that they can do with their
time, and hardly anyone gets serious about a career until they're >21 years
old. So if a graduate has got lots of high marks then it's almost a certainty
that they have done the work to please their parents. If you want an
obediant employee who will do what you want as efficiently as possible then
such a person will suit the position. Also you have to keep in mind that in
school it doesn't matter whether your project works, just as long as it's
well documented and all the proceedures have been followed - I've seen some
companies that work in the same way.
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Copyright © 1999 Russell
Coker, may be distributed freely.