Bob Langieri Shares IBM i Career Trends Outlook for 2023
February 1, 2023
When it comes to career trends in the IBM i community, there are few who have a better sense of what’s going on than Bob Langieri. The longtime CEO of Excel Technical Services in Orange County, California, has his fingers on the pulse of the job situation, which is why we turn to him for an outlook on 2023 trends.
The economy started out on a down note last year before picking up momentum towards the end of 2022, Langieri notes. Those forces are still with us today, the tea leaves are inconclusive.
“A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth,” Langieri says. “The first half of 2022 said we were in a recession. The third quarter picked up a little, but we are not out of the woods just yet. This is a tricky one to figure out because consumers are still spending as interest rates are going up. Unemployment rates look good. The CPI [consumer price index] is up, gas prices up, food is up. I am seeing the beginning of hiring freezes and some cutbacks by major corporations, sending signals that the next two years may be a bumpy road for some. Big Tech companies like Amazon, Meta (Facebook), Twitter, Salesforce, Cisco and others have all announced or started major layoffs.”
In the IBM i-RPG job market, hiring has been stalled or slower for the last year, he says. There are folks being excluded from the job hunt due to the number of trips they’ve made around the sun.
“I am hearing from more RPG developers who have retired, but still want to work part-time. It’s pretty normal now to see more people working until the age of 70 or longer. They are a real value, but most companies are ignoring resumes that show their age as working since 1980 or signs of System/36 or System/38. I feel no need to go back more than 20 years on a resume,” Langieri writes.
“Covid-19 forced many employers to accept remote workers, especially programmers/software developers. So now besides Covid-19 being a reason for working remote, the expense of commuting will force even more people into remote. Employment participation is down as more people have been lured by unemployment checks and government handouts to stay home or thought maybe it’s a good time to re-evaluate your career and life,” he says.
Salaries for IBM i talent have increased over the last year, Langieri notes, but they’re still nowhere close to the salaries that folks focusing on technologies, like .NET and open source tools, are making.
“Typical salaries for RPG developers (employees) are in the range of about $118,000 to $130,000 and may vary by location and proximity to major metro areas,” he says. “Salaries for .NET and other open-source technologies typically are going from $140,000 to $180,000. I am seeing a number of IBM i-RPG environments running less RPG applications and more open-source applications. I see a number of companies acquired and then moving applications off IBM i and onto cloud-based systems.
“I have been in the recruiting and contract staffing business for over 40 years, and I can tell you that hiring and layoffs ebb and flow mainly due to economics,” Langieri says. “When companies are struggling, it is hard to find job openings even for really good candidates. When companies are growing, it’s hard to find good candidates. Factors like inflation, interest rates, supply chain/logistics, housing starts, global pandemics, worker participation rate, unemployment rate, number of new jobs created, manufacturing index reports, consumer confidence levels, retail sales, US debt, US Import and Export Price Indexes, average hourly earnings, etc., etc.”
Langieri takes in information from a lot of different sources. From the sound of his analysis, we’re not on the cusp of a period of widespread prosperity for midrange types, but your own particular mileage may vary.
“Every day I watch the business news, follow the stock market and listen to numerous analysts to help me to form my own opinions,” he says. “When you see a trend developing, pay attention. Look for the general outlook and also be aware of the smaller trends like in your own state or industry, or in the case of IT, look for the trends in what technologies are being used and which are declining. Look at the number of job postings in different categories besides your own specialty.”
With that said, there is a solid path that IBM i professionals can take to increase their usefulness to employers, and therefore their employability. It can be boiled down to three simple words: Learn new stuff.
“What you learned five or 10 years ago may be fading into obsolescence,” Langieri says. “Broaden your knowledge of new technologies even if it’s not what your company is using. The Internet offers so much in the way of learning new skills for free. It should almost be mandatory that IT managers encourage their staff to look for alternative ways to do things, partly as a brain exercise and partly as a way to ‘build a better mousetrap.’
“Our best talent and trainers in the IBM i world are people that stepped out of their comfort zone and tried learning from others or experiment with new tools and found out that they are now the teachers leading the way,” he concludes. “So, break out of your comfort zone and find something new to keep your career on the bleeding edge. In summary, find ways to make yourself more valuable to your company, while also making your skills more transferable to more opportunities.”
For more information on Langieri’s recruiting services, check out Excel Technical Services’ website at www.excelsearch.com.
2023 IBM i Predictions, Part 3
The IBM i Job Environment, It’s a Changin’
IBM i Salaries: Underpaid, Yet Highly Valued And Hard To Replace
Innovating And Thriving with IBM i