In my last post introducing our strategy for recruiting the mainframe development workforce, I talked about defining the problem of the mainframe skills shortage and strategizing an approach to hire Millennial developers. The next step we took in our journey involved focusing our efforts on mainframe development education.

Upon realizing how detrimental the scarcity of mainframe development education was, we began hosting regular information sessions on college campuses we had targeted for recruiting the mainframe workforce. Since then, much of our success with hiring Millennial developers has come from educating students on the powers of the mainframe.

Educate the Next Generation

Generating mainframe awareness has been a core component of our strategy for hiring Millennial developers. It remains surprising how few students know what the mainframe is or understand its powerful, secure and reliable backend transaction-processing capabilities. Because schools are neglecting mainframe development education, when we speak to students at college campuses we focus on what the mainframe does and its impact on the world.

Many Millennials share a common dream: to impact the world apart from themselves or the company they work for. Part of our campaign is providing an understanding that in mainframe jobs, Millennials will inevitably work with some of the largest companies having the largest impact on the global economy. As a mainframe software company, the ability to have a large impact is one thing we’re unquestionably able to offer Millennial developers looking for mainframe jobs.

The task of visiting campuses to share information about a computing platform students likely haven’t heard of has resulted in extraordinary success. By focusing on specific schools where we know students are interested in mainframe application development or where there are mainframe-inclusive curriculums, we’ve created a name for ourselves among college peer groups.

A cycle has developed. Students hear us speak about the mainframe at an information session or find our booths at career fairs or events, intriguing many to apply at our company or at least take an interest in the mainframe. Our summer interns go back to school, our full-time Millennial developers their alma maters, and spread word that the mainframe is different than the stodgy, unchanging platform two decades of disinvestment and mainframe-excluded IT innovation have framed it to be. When we visit these institutions again, the number of students telling us they want to work for mainframe software companies like ours has grown.

Supporting Mainframe Thought Leadership and Recruitment

Our investments in generating mainframe awareness to fill the void left by the removal of mainframe development education at these institutions continues to be significant; however, one key component of our strategy for recruiting the mainframe development workforce by informing Millennials is the decision to act primarily as a mainframe thought leader, not a brand, on campuses.

This decision is based on our understanding of the existential dilemma all companies tied to the mainframe face as expert mainframe developers retire. For the survival of our company, our customers and our industry, the focus of generating mainframe awareness, in lieu of diminished or absent mainframe development education, must be on the mainframe platform itself, its capabilities and the need for mainframe modernization.

At the intersection of the mainframe skills shortage and the need for mainframe modernization are boundless opportunities for Millennials willing to take the platform seriously. Alongside serving as a general advocate for the mainframe, we’ve taken major steps in how we promote ourselves as a leading mainframe software company ready to catapult Millennials’ careers. Some of our best practices for recruiting, according to Compuware recruiter Leigh Ann Ulrey, include:

  • Offering summer internships so we can see a student’s potential and let them get to know the company before making a full-time offer.
  • Hosting a company-specific information session to share our story at schools we’ve identified as good places to recruit from.
  • Selling the importance of applications or software a candidate will be building to give the work purpose in the greater scheme of things.
  • Showing passion, because when candidates talk with employees who truly love what they do, they can’t help but be curious to explore more.
  • Giving new hires a committed mentor who helps ease the new hire’s transition into a role and serves as a person the new hire can turn when they need help.

With these best practices, we ensure mainframe development education continues from pre-employment through the beginning stages of our Millennial developers’ careers. In my next post, I’ll touch more on what that training, mentorship and on-the-job work looks like.

Does your company have a strategy in place for filling mainframe jobs with the next generation of mainframe developers? Get more information about what steps you should be taking here, or read the posts in this series:

Photo by Liv Martin and Chad Morgan