Hyderabad: For several years, a number of Indian techies working in the US have faked their way through job applications, interviews and day-to-day work. They are enabled by an ecosystem of “recruiting consultancies”, many located in Hyderabad, that offer services like hiring someone to do a job interview on their behalf and even performing their job while the US-based techie makes big bucks.
According to engineering graduates who moved to the US for an MS degree, they are incapable of finding a job on their own. Placements being rare, they associate with a consultancy. Mahesh (name changed), working in Dallas, said “Most Indian consultancies own or rent properties across America — called guest houses — where people like me are asked to move. Here they teach us a little in the domain we want a job in, like databases or web design. All this is free of cost. We pay them 20 to 30 per cent of our take-home salary once we get a job.”
This is where it gets shady. Naresh (name changed), who works near Kavuri Hills in a “staffing agency”, explains the modus operandi: the graduates are “marketed” to IT firms. “Eventually companies show interest and invite for interviews. If it’s a one-on-one interview, we can’t help. But when it is done via video-call, we get a domain expert from India to take the interview for him. The candidate just has to move his lips. The off-screen proxy speaks the whole time,” he said.
The proxy interview, said a graduate from Raleigh, North Carolina, bec-mes necessary since most consultancies fake resumes to an astonishing degree. “Our resumes show 7-8 years experience. The interviewer expects us to be well-versed with our jobs. Since we aren’t, we have no choice,” he said.
But once they get the job, how do they survive? “Once a person reports for work, we arrange someone from India who can do his work,” Naresh says. “The person enables remote access to his computer, brief the proxy about the work, and then relax. The proxy does the rest.” Depending on the work’s complexity, proxies make between Rs 30,000 and Rs 60,000 a month, which is just a fraction of what the new recruit is making in America.
Of course, some get caught. Mahesh from Dallas, said: “One day I was sitting in my cubicle, watching a movie on Netflix while the proxy was connected. My supervisor walked in and saw the mouse moving on the screen without any input from me. She understood immediately.”
“I was fired the next day, after a lengthy talk on ethics. Fortunately, she didn’t report me to the police,” Mahesh said, recalling the incident of his supervisor catching him take the help of proxies.
Mahesh was making $9,000 a month and paying his proxy $500 when he was fired. Naresh from the firm in Kavuri Hills said, “Proxy work can only be supported for a few months. By then we expect the graduates to pick up and be self-sufficient.”
What is the end game? Once the optional practical training (OPT) period expires, consultancies kick the graduates out and stop supporting them, since they will likely have to return home.
“We look for those fortunate enough to be picked in the H1B visa lottery. Once this happens, we know we have guaranteed revenue since he can legally stay in America for the next few years and will eventually find a job,” he said....