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Wanted: iSeries experts

An IT manager at an Atlanta-based inventory fulfillment company has been looking for iSeries help for months, but lackluster candidates and high recruiter fees have made it hard to make a hire.

Glenn Bandoly, IT manager at Atlanta-based PBD Worldwide Fulfillment Services has been looking to fill an iSeries position for about four months now. The company manages inventory fulfillment for companies -- dealing with front-end Web storefronts to warehousing and accounting.

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Bandoly is looking for a fairly common skill set -- someone with experience on the AS/400 and a background in J.D. Edwards software. But he has run into problems.

"We don't see the resumes we want to see, and the kinds of folks we want to see are all represented by a recruiter," Bandoly said. "The [cost] of the recruiter affects the hiring decision tremendously for a small company."

Bandoly said the finders fees from recruiters are often between 20%-25%. "It's like finding what you want, but that you can't afford it," Bandoly said. "Even if you can talk them down to 10%, that's still money that could be going to the employee.

A lot of people that Bandoly does know in AS/400 positions are happy on the job. Java, Unix and even mainframe people he said aren't as difficult to move off their perches and into new positions.

"At this point we're still attending professional group meetings, posting to job boards and doing it the old fashioned way," Bandoly said.

Search400.com has been reporting on the iSeries job market over the last few weeks and has found a disconnect between hiring managers and iSeries pros. There also seems to be a lack of entry-level iSeries workers -- but an overabundance of displaced midcareer professionals. But most indicators point to the economy ramping up and the job market improving.

In fact, part of the challenge for Bandoly is that it's an employees' market in Atlanta right now. Despite flat unemployment numbers from the Georgia Department of Labor -- 5.1% across the state and the country as a whole -- the influx of people to the area is offsetting the statistics and job growth is keeping up with the population boom.

Bandoly attended a recent meeting of the Atlanta Software Process Improvement Network SPIN group, and at the end of the meeting when representatives from hiring companies stood up to mention open positions, he said companies were all looking for full-time employees. "If the economy was flat, they would have been looking for contract positions," Bandoly said.

Specific to Atlanta, Bandoly said business is booming for Java, Unix and networking skills as well. "You can write your own check with SOX or TCI [HIPAA] compliance," Bandoly said.

Aside from good technical skills, Bandoly needs someone who can communicate to internal clients, both in written word and in person. "I don't need the stereotypical bifocal geek," Bandoly said. "If I have to get someone to put in a closet and write code, I have to go to all of the meetings, and I'm not up for that."

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Matt Stansberry, News Editor

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Recruiters fees can be tough. You have to weigh the fact that they help weed out the unqualified candidates. You could try on-line job sites if the fees are the issue. I know some agencies will still send out prospects that have no reason to show for the interview. They are just making their client feel like they are  working to find them a job. I hate when they just send out a prospect without doing the research first.
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One of the things I see in employment ads is that what the ad says is not really what they are looking for. A company I used to work for was looking to hire an entry level RPG coder. One of the things stated in the ad was "must know Query/400". My only requirement was that they had some solid, basic RPG coding skills (i.e successful completion of a class). I didn't want to start training at ground zero, but I can teach someone the basics of Query/400 in a few minutes. But how many candidates that had some RPG skills, but not Query were self-eliminated by that one statement?

Other times I have responded to an ad, at the interview was asked if I was familiar with some obscure product, "we are only interested in candidates that are knowledable of this product". Then say it in the  add (and read the resume before requesting an interview).

My last time doint serious looking for a new position I had reqruiters coming out of the woodwork to represent me for a contract position. One stated that once he represented me, the job was mine. Months later I talked with the hiring manager, I didn't stand a snowballs chance becuase I didn't have experience with the package they used, and they wanted someone to hit the ground running.

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