The Patriot Act: Its Effect on U.S. Tech Industry

February 15th, 2012

Could the Patriot Act slow down the tech industry in the United States? The Patriot Act provided a new opportunity for the military to protect the country after the September 11th attacks. However, now it has some foreign companies not willing to get into business with American companies. The problem is not the companies themselves but the technology they are using. That technology has an incredible impact on the way people do business in the US right now. Cloud computing is very useful but for foreign businesses, it seems like a risk.

What’s the Problem?

The problem with cloud computing is that it allows data to be stored in a “cloud” on the Internet. Anyone with the proper pass codes can access the information in the cloud and use it from virtually any location where there is an Internet connection. The problem is, though, foreign companies are leery about putting their private information on American company’s cloud systems. Could this provide an opportunity for the government to spy on their actions? Foreign competitors want companies to avoid working with American communities as a result.

Actions Under Way

The good news is that something is being done to minimize this worry and to encourage foreign companies that the government has no need or interest in tapping into private, foreign company’s information. The Obama Administration is taking steps to encourage a full understanding of the Patriot Act as well as what it means to business. The White House is working on solutions as this has a potentially big negative impact on many US businesses, especially since other companies are using and already benefiting from cloud systems overseas.

The Patriot Act has worried business owners in Europe, Asia and throughout the world. The worry is that, under this law, foreign companies may be required to provide information at any time upon request by the federal government in the US.

The threat is real. In the Netherlands, for example, authorities seemed to consider the idea of blocking any US based cloud firms from actually bidding on and receiving contract bids from government programs. It was never put into place, but the fear is that other countries will put this type of limitation in place.

The true benefit of cloud management is having free information travel between sources. With some countries now requesting businesses cut into this and to keep communications within the country’s borders there is a risk to American companies in this firm. In a report on cloud computing that came out in 2011, 71 experts from companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and Salesforce have come forward to put pressure on Washington to take control over the situation. It could mean a large problem for companies who want and need to expand their services overseas.

Your Age Shouldn’t Matter. How to Make Your Career and Your Resume Age-proof

November 29th, 2011

Under current Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) guidelines, it is illegal to discriminate against job applicants based on age, along with other identifying factors. It’s also illegal to stop giving older employees less opportunities for career growth. However, there are some companies that continually focus on “youthful” employees, finding ways to get around these laws. Oftentimes too, older job seekers believe they cannot find good career opportunities and are not offered jobs based on their age or appearance.

Generally speaking, while you cannot do much about your age, you can do something about the way you present yourself to potential employers so that you do not “date” your skills and abilities. It’s not so much about age, as it is about how you present yourself as a job seeker. Here are some ways to “age proof” your career and your status as an applicant.

Keep Your Skills Up-to-date – The number one factor to maintaining your career for a lifetime, and for presenting yourself in a positive light to recruiters, is keeping your work related skills current. This mean being a lifelong learner, taking in as much information as you can about the work you do, and being able to present your credentials. You don’t have to be in college to get these credentials, but merely being in touch with your industry by participating in continual learning opportunities will keep you knowledgeable and fresh.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle – This goes for everyone, but it is especially true for those who are entering their mature years. Now is the time to start taking better care of your physical and mental well-being. Make friends with a fitness center. Learn to make healthier eating choices and drop the bad habits. Get involved in extra-curricular activities that provide encouragement to improve your mental state. By doing these things, you will not only improve your personal appearance, but you will have an energy that most recruiters will find irresistible and co-workers will marvel at.

Share Relevant Information – One of the biggest mistakes that many people make, when drafting a new resume or when filling out online applications, is sharing all of their career and educational history. Putting a graduation date that’s older than most people’s recollection is generally going to date you right off the bat. It is recommended that you leave off dates longer than 10-15 years, and only include work experiences that are relevant to the specific job. Include achievements and references to further bolster your strength as a candidate.

Get Representation. As a serious career-minded professional, your best ally can be the support of a progressive staffing agent or career coach. This person can look out for new opportunities for you, and advise you on the most favorable ways to present yourself from application to interviews. Ask for guidance with designing a brand new resume that will place you in the best possible light to companies you want to work for. After all, you have the skills they are looking for and there’s no reason to be shy about applying. You are smarter, wiser and a lot more capable of making a great first impression to secure a great career, with the support of a reputable staffing agent.

Find out how Stark Talent can help you get past the age-gap and into a great career today!

Hiring US Citizens vs. Foreign Tech Workers for IT Jobs: Which is Better for You and Your Company…are Your Preferences Legal?

November 22nd, 2011

As the technology world continues to burst with new opportunities, creating millions of career opportunities in the coming years, technology based companies everywhere are scrambling for suitable IT candidates. While the preference of hiring US citizens or foreign tech workers is based on many factors, it is now a matter of legal debate due to an H1-B employment bill in the Senate currently that may seriously change the way companies must approach recruitment and hiring of IT staff. This bill has now been signed into law by President Obama under the Financial Stability Plan.

In fact, several prominent IT firms have come under fire based on allegations that they misrepresent the number of available US candidates in favor of hiring foreign workers – a practice that has long gone on under the radar because foreign workers traditionally don’t command the wages that US Information Technology specialists do. From small development companies to large powerhouses in IT, the use of foreign workers is the preference of many in an effort to keep project costs down and increase profitability.

However, this entire practice can backfire as companies may be inadvertently not offering enough assignments to US workers, who still number in the many thousands. With close to 10% of the US adult workforce currently unemployed, the pressure is on for IT companies to show preference to native candidates, then foreign workers. The H1-B Senate bill makes it illegal to hire more than half your workforce as foreigners if you have more than 50 employees.

Additionally, as an employer you are required to advertise job openings for 30 days on the Department of Labor’s web site before making H-1B visa applications, giving American workers ample time to apply and be considered first. Jobs cannot be advertised strictly for foreign workers – there must be complete equality for all candidates regardless of nationality under EEOC guidelines.

How does your company stack up and do you follow the “rules” when it comes to offering IT assignments in a non-discriminatory way? If you are unsure, then it’s generally a good idea to seek legal counsel from a trusted employment attorney to review your current hiring practices in terms of this new law. Alternatively,  you can stay out of “hot water” by contracting with a quality IT staffing agency like Stark Talent that maintains all the laws as they pertain to hiring technology workers. This can give you peace of mind that you are a fair and legal employer.

 

What Will the New 1099 Consultant Regulations Mean for Your Business?

November 7th, 2011

In 2010, the new 1099 regulations came out for businesses that use contractors to perform work. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was part of Obama’s healthcare reform bill, all organizations are required to file a 1099 form for contractors who sell, use or buy $600 or more in services or products annually. This includes all companies, both private and public, as well as non-profit organizations, and state and local governments who use IT contractors and consultants.

Overall, this law has put a strain on the already tedious accounting processes that must be managed by organizations in order to comply with the 1099 rules. There has been a surge in the use of accounting technology and software to both track and process contractors. But for many companies, the 1099 ruling have deeper implications about how we will do business in general and how to keep up with regulations as they pertain to contract work.

As early as 2010, experts were warning that the 1099 law would put an undue strain on company accounting departments, multiplying the amount of paperwork by five-fold. However, by the end of the year, many companies were already turning to automated systems and outsourced accounting services to handle this need.

Now it would make some assume that this would increase the need for accounting personnel. In many cases, this was true as it had the effect of taking some accounting functions out of the hands of individuals and into the capable hands of national accounting companies – at a substantial cost. However, in other cases, the vast majority of these new accounting burdens were left on the shoulders of small accounting departments who had no choice but to start utilizing an accounting software solution to keep up.

This is especially true when it comes to the small business sector, which is still the single-most largest growth factor in the economy to date. Small business owners had to adjust their accounting procedures in order to comply with the 1099 law, which also forced them to turn to accounting software and outsourced accounting companies for help. It also made many limit their use of contractors, which may have had a larger impact on staffing and contract agencies in the past year.

The good news is that on the eve of tax day 2011, President Obama repealed the 1099 law, after it was discovered how damaging it was to the small business sector. In April of 2011, the law was full repealed, which saved tens of thousands of small business owners and landlords from having to fill out 1099’s. Under the Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act of 2011, small businesses and landlords were no longer required to issue 1099’s for purchases made or rental payments made after December 31, 2011.

For all businesses, however, a 1099 form must be completed for anyone who contracts with any service provider in the amount of $600 annually or more. This means any contract service, including employment services, must be issued a 1099 form at the end of the tax year. For more information on how the 1099 law applies to your business and the contractors you work with, including IT contractors, be sure to visit the Internal Revenue Service page here.