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So, we've got a product, written in Perl. Mind you, it's good Perl, pretty well object-oriented, with a strong functional-programming influence, extensive test suites, and it's an agile environment doing Extreme Programming with elements of Scrum.

We also have about 4 open headcount that we're trying to fill sooner rather than later, and we've historically had trouble filling even just one or two. I've been taking a look at the sort of candidates that our existing postings seem to be attracting, and they're not particularly impressive. Most of them have a background in QA automation or something similar.

We know that we can take good OO software engineers who know Python or Ruby or even just C++/Java and bring them up to speed quickly enough. We're pretty good at being able to pitch the actual job itself to qualified candidates if we have their ear. What we're not good at, it seems, is attracting these people to our postings in the first place.

  • What sort of things can we do to market ourselves to these engineers?
  • What sort of things should we be careful to avoid in job postings and the like?

(The posting is omitted since I don't want to get in any trouble by doing an end-run around the job-board. Also, our current in-house recruiter isn't helping much.... rumors are his days are numbered and I'm not at all surprised...)

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Dude, Perl is no Erlang or Clojure. I personally hate Perl, but have to admit that it still is popular - just make all the right moves (a lot of buzz) - hit up SO careers, craigslist, LinkedIn groups ... headhunters? –  Job Dec 25 '10 at 3:41
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Perl is still a popular language. –  whatsisname Dec 25 '10 at 4:47
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Perl is a popular language in decline. Sounds ideal for hiring. –  Tom Hawtin - tackline Dec 25 '10 at 16:39

4 Answers 4

Consider the nearest Perl Users Group.

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If there is a local perl mongers group find their mailing list and ask there. –  Zachary K Mar 23 '11 at 9:07

Are you restricted by your geographic location? Are you only trying to attract people from within a certain area. If you have a specific skillset requirement, you may need to cast a broad net. You don't specify how you're seeking people.

Do you allow work-from-home? If not, why not. What is it about your development that can't be done remotely. Maybe you could have someone on-site for a few weeks and then let them go home. That would expand considerably the people that might be interested in working for you.

Do your postings reflect that you value these skills. That you're pro-active in supporting education and knowledge. That you encourage activity on forums, user-groups, etc. That your enterprise understands and promotes the value of expertise?

And of course, what are the rates you're paying. Too often I see that companies don't adequately value a specialist skill-set. Rather than valuing what cost-benefit the company may attract from that resource(person) they just think of what pay scale a programmer should fall into. But if your company can earn big $ from what that person produces, review the pay scale! (If I make or save your company $500K per year, what percentage of that am I worth?).

Basically, if you're not attracting the right people, you need to look inward first.

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In general, we don't allow regular work-from-home because we're an XP team that does pair programming (which is hard enough to do with our one remote developer who had been with us for years already) and the benefits that it offers us, especially the collaboration and communication, are greatly reduced with remote developers. That said, we're in Sunnyvale, with Silicon Valley is at our doorstep, so it's not like there's a shortage of local talent. I suppose it would be nice if we were closer to San Francisco... or at least to Caltrain... but my influence in those matters is minimal. –  fennec Dec 24 '10 at 22:42

hmmm...I can only tell you how I've gotten Perl jobs.

First time, I monitored the perljobs mailing list (jobs.perl.org) until a job in my area came up. I applied and got it.

Second time, I went to indeed.com and did a search on "perl". I found an opening in my area, applied, and got it.

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There is also Craigslist ... –  Job Dec 25 '10 at 3:37

Emphasize more on the nature and impact of your project, but less on the language itself.

Some of the QA Automation candidates may actually fit in your project. You may be able to devise a strategy that can identify the right one. With that strategy in mind, you will not need to reject them on the basis of backgrounds.

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By "not particularly impressive" I don't just mean the background, I mean that they fail the little quiz we send asking for them to program simple things, like a 'singleton' base class. (And we're pretty liberal with the people we quiz.) –  fennec Dec 24 '10 at 21:55

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