The problems with IT hiring
A huge issue with the entire hiring process -- which the article doesn't address -- [is that] hiring has been taken away from the IT management people and placed into the hands of HR staff working with non-tech recruiters.
Today a young recruiter told me he was proud, with six years of recruiting experience, to consider himself a "professional sales person". He had no tech background whatsoever and I know this person is not alone in the recruiting field. It is surprising that corporations would put the filtering process of potential IT candidates into the hands of individuals within/without who have zero IT background.
Sure, they know how to use MS Office but hand them a compiled listing or even a file definition and ask them how they would utilize it in a pre-interview phone interview. Hah!
A cautionary tale
One organization I know of refused to give an individual a $5,000 a year pay increase. HR said "it's not do-able -- we checked salary ranges within our region and that would put them slightly over the mid-point of salaries." The IT mgmt didn't want [the person] to leave, they tried going to bat for the person, but in the end they had to say to the man, "our hands are tied." So the man resigned.
The company recruited heavily for a few months without success. "We need to attend a job fair" proclaimed HR -- and so [HR] arranged to attend a job fair halfway across the country for a few days and returned with nothing. Surprised?
When they finally found a candidate (locally) they had already spent more than the ex-employee's entire yearly salary on advertising, interview time, job fair, etc without any return. When they hired the individual the new employee's starting wage was greater than the original employee's salary with their requested/rejected pay raise.
Phoenix not the promised land
From the article: "On the other hand, if you're going to Phoenix, you've got opportunity because of the sheer mass of people moving into six or seven key southern states".
I lived and worked in Phoenix for a few years. The midrange market there could be called a flat liner. It is, for the size of the region, practically nil. "Sheer mass of people moving" has no relation, no correlation to the number of available iSeries positions. Trust me - Phoenix is a small midrange community. Everyone knows everyone.
You want IT work in Phoenix? [Try] networking or very complicated hardware programming for the DOD/MIC. But you'll need a secret clearance first. Say, can H1B holders get a secret clearance? Good question.
By the way, recently it has been stated that over 50% of the people living in Arizona cannot afford to live within the city where they work. Cost of real estate has not and will not keep in-line with wages, especially in the IT sector in Phoenix.
Here are some proposals
No luck in Omaha
I can tell you that here in Omaha there just aren't any 400 jobs to be had -- for a newby or otherwise. I've got seven years of experience on the 400, an associate's degree in the 400 and just finished my MIS degree and I can't even get a response from any potential employers. The market here has been flooded with former 400 programmers from HP and even the headhunters have told me THEY can't even get responses from employers due to this saturation.
The employers now are also requiring a laundry list of other requirements such as .net and Java experience. It's definitely an employer's market. I have a family to take care of so it's not an option to go to Des Moines or Sydney, Nebraska (Cabela's). The unemployment is running out and my family and I are tightening our belts as best we can. I don't understand why some of the employers that live in a more expensive area of the country wouldn't consider telecommuting for some of their 400 work. It would be a bargain for them and a good job for us. Thank you for letting me sound off.
The other side of the coin
The market in the New York Tri-state area is definitely picking up, but not for entry level positions. Most positions are for seasoned pros with specific experience. And the pay level has also picked up. I have been consulting for the last 15 -plus years and watch the market consistently. It is the best I have seen it since before 9/11.
Dispatch from New Orleans
I am sort of in a unique situation here in the New Orleans area. I have been looking for an AS/400 programmer that has worked with JD Edwards (Sales Order Entry, Inventory, Financials, MRP/MPS). The problem I have experienced here is that the local market is been busted up pretty well from Katrina and that very few people seem to be willing or interested in relocating to New Orleans now.
The stock of 'experienced' AS/400 guys is weak at best and most of the guys seem to be the 'old school' guys that seem to know only RPG II and have no desire to learn the newer stuff. The AS/400 is a wonderful system and the possibilities are plentiful on what we could be doing on this platform – but, everyone I am interviewing does not even know half of what is possible. Consequently, Because of this, I am leaning towards what your article indicates – taking the step back and looking at a young "PC" programmer and see if I can get him/her productive/functional on the 400.
Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Matt Stansberry, News Editor