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Where to Find the Next Generation of IBM i Developers

Finding qualified developers is the single most important issue employers on IBM i face today. The issue is two-fold: there are less people in the workforce with IBM i experience and many developers with experience don’t have the modern knowledge to stay current. Today’s college degrees very seldom, if ever, contain IBM i education leaving very few ways for developers or students to learn it. Also, those working on the IBM i platform may not have the opportunity or time to learn new technologies, such as the RDi development tool.

Failed recruitment after failed recruitment often has employers ready to throw in the towel. Our solution lies in non-traditional recruitment and online education.

The Traditional Hiring Process

Traditionally, an HR liaison creates the job description, posts it on a job board and compiles all applications. Before the hiring manager sees these applications, the HR professional or a computer system sifts out the candidates who don’t meet the pre-qualification criteria.

Yet how many HR professionals know or understand IBM i and its technical nuances? When they develop job descriptions and pre-qualifications, they may be leaving out key soft skills or previous experiences that translate well to IBM i programming. This results in the loss of many qualified candidates, who may not have the exact IBM i or RPG development experience needed but have the capacity to learn it.

Traditional recruitment also involved connecting with university or college career hubs to find IBM i college graduates. In recent years, higher education institutions have removed IBM i development from their coursework to focus on other coding languages, such as Python and Javascript.

Leaving the Platform Is Not the Answer, Trust Us

When traditional hiring means fail, companies are left with two options: turn to non-traditional recruitment strategies or leave the platform. We’ve seen companies spend unnecessary money trying to move their business operations to a new platform with little to no return on investment. Some companies have even moved back to the platform costing them money that could have been invested elsewhere. imPower feels the best means is non-traditional recruitment.

Non-Traditional Recruitment That Works

Based on our experience, and according to Patrick Staudacher, Talsco’s founder, an IT recruiting firm, the best individuals to hire are from inside your company. First, they know your business systems inside and out because they use it daily. Depending on their department and current role, they may already know your finance, operations or customer relation systems. Second, they are already invested and familiar with your company and its culture. This opportunity would allow them to make a career with your business. And lastly, if technologically savvy, they can learn IBM i and RPG programming in less than two months with an online education program like ours.

When seeking out an internal candidate, you may need to drop your pre-qualification criteria to allow for someone who has the drive but little to no direct experience. They could be from any department such as accounting, assembly or even distribution. They may not have a degree in IT but most are willing and eager to learn. We’ve seen companies follow this model with success every time! In fact, ManhattanLife had a 100% successful completion rate for all employees who went through imPower’s training program.

Additionally, you can look for IT professionals or recent college graduates who have experience in other languages such as Python, HTML, HTTP or Javascript. Offering hiring incentives, such as an online IBM i and RPG training, will get them ready to begin working from day one and increase your retention rates. IT professionals with an aptitude for learning easily pick up the new language and platform.

Modern Training for Seasoned IBM i New Hires

On another note, some employers have been able to find seasoned developers, but they lack the modern technology knowledge the company needs in a candidate. Depending on their previous employer, they may not have had the chance to learn new technologies. This shouldn’t disqualify them from a chance with your company. Picking up new technologies, such as RDi, is as easy as enrolling them in a two-week online training program.

Get Creative With Recruitment Strategies

If all else fails, get creative with your hiring process. Seek out family members or friends who want to get into IT and offer them the education they need. Look for people who have the soft skills and personality traits that your company values and give them the chance to learn the system through online education and daily shadowing of your seasoned developers. When your new employee starts, have them document your IBM i system with a system flowchart. This will help them learn the system as well as see how the company operates.

Though traditional recruitment may not be working for IBM i, there are many non-traditional ways to grow your team. A little investment in online training will result in an experienced and knowledgeable new hire with incentive to work for your company for years to come!