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Economy affecting iSeries salaries, employment

Things sure seem tough out there. Layoffs loom, most salaries are stagnant, and budgets keep getting cut. We wondered how difficult it's been for you. Are you and your department struggling, or are you one of the lucky ones still going strong? Here's what some of you had to say.

Things sure seem tough out there. Layoffs loom, most salaries are stagnant, and budgets keep getting cut. We wondered how difficult it's been for you. Are you and your department struggling, or are you one of the lucky ones still going strong? Here's what some of you had to say.

Care to comment?
Tell us how the economy has affected you.

Indications of hiring activity
I am beginning to see some modest signs of hiring activity, though much of it is below the radar and not advertised and not posted.

We are being overloaded by the success of the Web. Department heads frequently comment that they can't afford to try to deal with hundreds or thousands of responses. The "best" example so far was related by the placement service of a well-known graduate business school. A company listed 18 management trainee positions (for new MBAs) with them and with several other schools. The positions were also listed with some of the job boards. The company required an online application to even get into the process for consideration. They received 31,000 (yes, thirty-one thousand) completed applications, set 46 interviews and hired 18.

Nate Viall
Nate Viall & Associates

Finding new job often difficult
Happily, I am still employed. On the other side of the coin, our staff here is thin. We have one person that does all the coding on the AS/400. I work on the network side and just administer the system. Even with 20 years' experience as an RPG programmer/analyst they won't let me change code -- battle of department lines. We are also trying to upgrade from our old 620 to a new 270. Unfortunately, the staff size slows this down. Hopefully, the task will be completed in the next two months or so. Talk about being held up: The new 400 arrived in July.

Last year we let a senior programmer go. As of today he is still looking for work. Even with the Detroit area having many AS/400 users, he just now got his first interview. It happened to be with an old friend of mine, and he told me they were calling him back for a second talk and to meet the IT manager.

My brother is in the Cleveland area and has been out of work since August. He isn't an AS/400 professional, but he still has 20-plus years in the business. He is also having trouble just getting a first interview.

Both of those guys are in their 50s and that makes it harder because of where their salaries are at. Obviously, both will be taking pay cuts to just get in the door again.

AS/400 system administrator
Troy, Mich.

Quality being sacrificed
Too many times I laugh at Dilbert because his woes and mine are identical -- or at least close enough to hit home.

I'm in Oregon where the unemployment rate is higher than it's been in years. Many Oregon companies are at a size that seems just right for mergers and acquisitions. Many of our good ole "Made in Oregon" companies are gone or now part of someone else's bigger picture. Job security that used to come from being a loyal employee is a thing of the past. We've had to sacrifice quality with quantity, making stress levels higher than ever. I've been in this business over 20 years, including 10 years in Los Angeles, and these last two have been the hardest by far.

I'd be interested in knowing if other iSeries folks have noticed an increase in managerial promotions that are based on bashing fellow managers. I'm seeing a lot of that these days wonder if it really works.

System administrator

Some of the lucky ones
I'm an AS/400 Cobol programmer working for an insurance company in Los Angeles. I just got a favorable yearly performance evaluation and a 3% raise to go with it. So, I have nothing to complain about.

Armando Moncada

We just upgraded our AS/400 from a 730 to an 830 and added another partition for a total of six. We are renovating our data center and looking into the possibility of clustering. With an AS/400 support staff of three we're looking pretty solid for now, but I am expanding my education to include networking just in case.

Steve Bonderski
AS/400 technical services specialist

No department cuts, but salaries staying put
There is no plan to cut budgets or projects because of the economy. In fact, we just signed up for a new iSeries. The company is doing just about the same as the previous year. The only thing that has changed is I didn't get a bonus or a raise as I did in the past six years.

Richard Magnan
Director of data processing
Walker Foods Inc.

This isn't Happy, Texas
I live in Austin, Texas, area. It's been hit extremely hard and there are NO jobs in the iSeries arena. I'm still employed; however, our company is actively looking to sell this unit. Who knows what will happen then.

Keith Kerlin
iSeries systems administrator

Thankful to be working
I've been in the IBM Midrange field for 18 years, and the past two have been the hardest in terms of the loss of IT jobs. Some recruiters have told me that it is the worst they've seen it in 25 years. This area has been hit hard with heavy losses in tobacco, furniture, textiles and the like.

Thankfully, I've been working steady for the past 18 months after several years of consulting in the 1990s and being on the bench for months at a time in between contracts. Though my current salary is rather low for my experience level, I'm thankful to be working, even if the benefits are lousy.

I'm not trying to be a pessimist, but I think it's going to be a long time before the midrange job market begins a real recovery.

Senior programmer/analyst
North Carolina

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