Cringely catches IBM trying to hire 15,000

Apocalypse nears

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Comment Those of you afraid of Robert Cringely's claim that IBM will layoff 150,000 workers might want to read his latest column. The PBS scribe has blown it again.

At the bottom of a piece on Google, Cringely returns to the IBM layoff topic and makes the following statement: "Last week IBM also posted more than 15,000 new positions on Yahoo HotJobs. If these jobs are real and IBM foresees stable employment numbers, won't 15,000 existing IBM employees have to leave?"

You might wonder how IBM hiring 15,000 workers, while also laying off 15,000 as Cringely suggests, would really back up the claims about a severely reduced US workforce. As we see it, that would leave IBM with the same number of staff in the US.

Don't spend too much time pondering that idea though because the 15,000 jobs don't really exist anyway.

It seems that Cringely simply typed "IBM" into the Yahoo! HotJobs keyword search bar.

Try it yourself, and you'll find that, yes, 15,081 jobs are up for grabs.

Of course, a huge chunk of those jobs aren't really tied to IBM corporate at all. For example, Spherion wants an IBM storage expert and Cisco wants an IBM project intern.

Cringely might have got a more accurate account by sorting the results by company and focusing on IBM. Do that, and you find 12,859 jobs at Big Blue.

We'll grant you that's still quite the total.

But, according to spokesman Fred McNeese, IBM typically has only 3,000 job postings up at any given time. Many of the jobs on Yahoo!'s board are repeat offers for the same position just in different cities. Search for "Software IT Architect", for example, and you find 22 listings for the position in towns such as Los Angeles, Houston and New York. When all is said and one, IBM is looking for close to 3,000 staff via Yahoo! - just like it always does.

Cringely also attaches a time element to his claim, stating that the jobs appeared "last week."

Er, again, that's not true. The job posting dates on the HotJobs site change from day-to-day. For example, almost all of the IBM jobs appear today to have been posted today. We're sure the same thing held true when Cringely checked the site last week. IBM clearly doesn't want people to ignore the openings because of an old posting date, so Yahoo! tweaks the postings every day.

One mistake as part of Cringely's fear-mongering campaign would be fine, but that's not what we're dealing with.

Cringely's original story on the IBM layoffs claimed that 150,000 US workers would be fired. Thing is, IBM only employs 130,000 people in the US. Cringely also claimed that all the layoffs were taking place under a project code-named LEAN. Those familiar with Six Sigma will know that Lean is simply the term associated with cutting waste out of business practices and not some nefarious culling program developed by IBM.

Cringely has done so much for technology over the years, so it's a huge shame to see his reporting reach such lows on this IBM matter. If IBM is really about to layoff a huge chunk of its US workforce, IBMers and the rest of us deserve to know about it. Layoffs on the scale posited by Cringely would devastate the US economy in the near-term. But we'll never get close to the truth with people like Cringely making such wild accusations without bothering to do one bit of research about the topic at hand.

Many of you have attacked The Register for not recognizing Cringely's brilliance on this topic. And, perhaps, this story comes from a defensive posture.

The evidence, however, seems to suggest that Cringely writes whatever he feels like without ever bothering to check the basics. Shouldn't PBS strive for higher standards? ®

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