Recently one of my coworkers here at Shutterstock wrote a blog post about her experience of YAPC:NA 2012 through the eyes of a recruiter. I asked her to write this blog because I thought it would be a great way to kick off a discussion about how we as a community can do a better job comunicating to recruiters. I think doing so would be the next logical step in improving our ability to represent Perl and everything that is great about it to the world at large.
Over the past few years we've done a lot to bust out of our bubble and start talking about all the great stuff we are doing with Perl. We blog, we post our code on popular open source oriented repositories like Github, we loudly celebrate our public conferences (as we did with the recent YAPC:NA 2012 conference and the past YAPC:Asia conference in 2011). All these things have a positive effect. Yet for the most part they are activities aimed at other programmers (ourselves and people we'd like to entice to join our community). This is not a bad thing, it is a great thing of course. But there are more people in IT then just programmers. There's product and project managers, C levels (like the CTO and CEO of a company) and of course recruiters. We ignore reaching these groups at our peril!
Recruiters do more than introduce programmers to potential jobs. They speak to hiring managers a lot about the types of technologies and potential recruits they have. Which means recruiters are the next level out from programmers regarding how a hiring manager or a C level perceives Perl. Right now, what I hear a lot is that recruiters tend to say things like "Its very hard to find qualified Perl programmers", or "I'm not seeing a lot of young people interested in Perl". Now, when a recruiter says stuff like that to the CTO or to the Director of Software for a company, that has a negative impact on the perception of Perl amongst a group of people that wield tremendous influence in a company's technology choices.
Additionally recruiters seem to have a hard time understanding what makes a good Perl programmer. Since we haven't widely advertised outside our community until recently, most recruiters are not in touch with modern Perl practices. They don't know about Plack, or Moose for example. They might know about mod_perl, which is not really considered a best practice for web development anymore. They in general have a hard time understanding a companies technology base and matching that up to a resume. This is not a problem they have (for example) when placing Java candidates. Typically a Java shop will have a pretty clear stack and can give the recruiter a list of technologies to help better match potential recruits. It would be great if we had a recruiter oriented FAQ of the modern Perl stack, for example. We could also help recruiters better understand CPAN and vet candidates that contribute to projects. In general there are a lot of things we could do to help recruiters vet possible candidates.
Recruiters also need help understanding how a company is using Perl. Not all Perl shops are modern, for example. Are they using mod_perl and Apache? Do they manage dependencies with a Makefile.PL and do they write there applications like CPAN module or have they grown their own project management system? Does a company use CPAN modules much, or are they stuck on whatever came with the server they installed? Are they using modern tools like local-lib or do they use the system Perl? Understanding how a company uses Perl will help a recruiter better match a candidate and also better communicate to a candidate what the job is like.
Lastly, we need to learn how to better represent ourselves on our resume to recruiters. We need to call out our technology experience, our CPAN authorship, our YAPC attendence and presentations for example. This will both make recruiters understand who we are better and has the nice side effect of making recruiters start to understand that Perl is vibrant and growing. If you are enthusiastic about Perl and communicate that on the resume, recruiters will see and feel that excitement as well.
My goal would be to see recruiters excited about Perl candidates and expressing that to hiring managers. Additionally as more programmers become part of what we call "Modern Perl" and recruiters learn how to realize that when they see resumes perhaps it will help us in our quest to prod companies stuck on older technologies a bit.
I'm thinking we should start with a simple Recruiters FAQ that could live on Perl.org website. This would just be a FAQ aimed at helping recruiters understand Perl, and understand how to better find qualified Perl candidates. It should also offer a bit of advice to Perl programmers about how to make sure a recruiter understands you, your needs and your resume. So, what do you all think? Suggestions! Lets get it started!