[San-Diego-pm] jobs available, going unfulfilled

Carolyn Ray carolyn at supersaturated.com
Wed Sep 22 13:18:28 PDT 2010

On Wed, 22 Sep 2010, Bob Kleemann wrote:

> 1) Many Perl programmers are quite happy where they are at, and so are 
> reluctant to entertain other offers.  This also affects the hiring 
> companies, as they find it hard to hire for a Perl position, and may 
> move to other languages (Java programmers are a dime a dozen).

One factor may be services like RentACoder (and worse). I wasted a lot of 
time on those sites until I realized what was going on. I've found it 
practically impossible to get one of those contracts, even though I was 
ready to take on a few projects for almost nothing, just so that I could 
say that I did. There are, apparently, lots and lots of Perl programmers 
in India who find it worthwhile to work for far less than $5.00 US, and 
they are at the sites all the time. By the time I read a description and 
decide to try for it, it is gone to the lowest bidder. I have no idea how 
good a job these people do, or even if they complete the jobs, but to a 
hiring party it probably *looks* like Perl programmers are a dime a dozen, 
and it certainly wouldn't be worth paying $45/hour and up for an American 
programmer when you can get "the same product" so cheap!

I'd be happy to work for $3.00/hr, if my monthly expenses were $50.00, 
but, you know, they aren't.

So that's one thing.

> 2) There may be a decline in Perl programmers.  PHP, Python, Ruby,
> etc may be grabbing those programmers.

Most people that I know have moved away from Perl because they can't find 
jobs that don't require all of the above and more, usually instead of Perl 
rather than in addition to these other skills. Whenever I talk to people 
about looking for a Perl position or contract, they sagely advise me to 
learn the hottest new language instead.

So it may not be that there is a decline in Perl programmers or that Perl 
programmers are satisfied with their current Perl job, but rather that 
many were forced to move to other languages and take jobs doing 
*that*--and it's a hassle to change jobs, so even if they hate Java and 
Flash they are going to stay with a safe position rather than leave it to 
take a Perl opportunity.

One more thing: There seems to be a disconnect between formal education 
and Perl. When employers insist on both Perl expertise AND formal 
education in computer science, I think they may be asking too much. It may 
be like confusing weekly gardeners with Ph.D.'s in horticulture--you 
don't often find both in the same person. And I'm not even sure that the 
formal education is usually *required* for the job; people probably make 
this demand unthinkingly most of the time, and it selects out huge numbers 
of perfectly qualified Perl programmers for no good reason in many cases.

> I'm not sure what the best solutions might be: increase the talent
> pool, increase the advertising, increase the expectation of pay for
> somebody knowledgeable in Perl, or something else entirely.

I think the first step would be increasing advertising (on sites other 
than RentACoder-types) to see what happens.

Another "solution" is helping employers to become more comfortable with 
telecommuting and part-time work, if they aren't finding people locally. I 
don't know what that educating/comforting process would be like. It seems 
so obviously advantageous to all parties, to me.

Carolyn Ray, Ph.D.
www.supersaturated.com          The mind is a terrible thing.

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