Over the course of developing and executing our strategy to fill mainframe jobs and curtail the mainframe skills shortage at our company, we’ve learned finding experienced Millennial mainframe developers for mainframe jobs isn’t easy.
Although Millennials account for 20 percent (and growing) of our mainframe development staff, the fact remains that many of the next-generation developers we hire are inexperienced on the platform, and other mainframe shops face the same daunting challenge.
However, this challenge is surmountable if mainframe shops learn the proper timing, training and mentorship necessary for onboarding less experienced mainframe developers, like we did.
Timing, Training and Mentorship
Early on, we understood timing, training and mentorship should coalesce to ease the process of onboarding individuals to fill mainframe jobs. Timing gives us a context for when to fill certain roles; training helps new recruits leverage their modern skills for the mainframe; and mentorship fosters individuals to become the stewards of the mainframe in years to come.
Plan to fill seats at your company before they’re empty. Don’t hire to replace the person retiring today or next week—that slot should already be filled. Hire to replace the person who’s retiring months from now. This ahead-of-schedule recruitment cycle gives you ample time to prepare inexperienced new people to handle mainframe jobs they were hired to take over.
The antithesis to hiring ahead is waiting until an expert retires before bringing in a replacement. This leaves the new recruit as inexperienced as they were the day you hired them until the day they quit, which won’t take long if they feel disadvantaged. Unfortunately, this is how many companies have tried to solve their mainframe skills shortage, and it’s the wrong way to fill mainframe jobs.
Proper timing gives space to train the new employee, and when it comes to teaching new recruits how to carry out their new role with new tools and processes, you should make sure their hands get dirty. The best way for them to learn is to have them sit down with the person whose role they’re going to fill and start documenting processes.
This enables new recruits to learn the required steps of processes and to describe them in a technical vernacular next-generation developers are accustomed to, which is important because down the road Millennials will make up the majority of your company. And, of course, this is a great way for you to make sure you’re keeping documentation of processes up-to-date while the digital economy continues to rapidly change.
Training exposes new employees to mentorship by experts who they spend time learning from and building relationships with. This is a vital piece to helping people you hire grow into successful stewards of the mainframe and of your company. Through mentorship, new employees learn more deeply about the culture, processes and tools your company is built on.
By surrounding your new inexperienced mainframe developers with experienced mentors, you can help them see the mainframe as a positive symbiotic platform for growing their careers and your company.
Filling Mainframe Jobs and Growing Your Development Workforce
At our company, Millennials are gradually growing in numbers. They’re starting to influence how we do things and how our products are going to look in the future. This is necessary if we’re to continuing competing in a digital economy that rewards companies that innovate and punishes those that stall.
If your company relies on the mainframe to stay competitive in its industry, recruiting a new generation of mainframe software developers to fill increasingly open mainframe jobs is an imperative for overcoming the mainframe skills shortage. But if you want to grow your Millennial workforce, you need to be strategic about recruitment. Boiling it down, here’s what you should do:
- Define the problem. Your experts are retiring and you lack replacements
- Strategize an approach. Millennials aren’t coming to you, so go to them.
- Educate Millennials. Mainframe education is scarce—create your own awareness.
- Learn the right way to onboard. Use timing, training and mentorship.
- Grow your Millennial workforce. Once moving, keep recruiting, watch it grow.
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 previous two posts of this series: