With respect for perl jobs, here are a few things that have struck me as odd, and I’m curious if I’m the only one who seems to experience it:

I’ve seen the following both recently and in years past; it never seems to change.

  1. Finding a perl job (let alone a good perl job) is hard. Maybe it is a U.S. thing, maybe it is my particular area in the U.S., but the last few jobs I’ve had that used perl were insanely HARD to find. I even used the jobs.perl.com site, and still, the ones I ended up finding didn’t come from there at all.

  2. Those looking to hire developers seem to say the same thing: It’s hard to find a perl developer; or conversely, It’s much easier to find a [xyz]developer. You can put just about any language in that slot.

  3. Compensation rates seem vastly different. I remember a few years back discussing rates with a prospective employer and I said something along the lines of “Well, at xyz using this other language, I’m making $y, so I’m hoping to find something at least that.” I got more or less laughed at and told that even seasoned, “Expert” perl developers don’t even get paid half of that.

One and two especially confound me; there never appear to be any perl jobs when I’m looking and there never appear to be perl developers around when employers look. You’d think you’d only see one side of that; there are either no perl developers to be found or no perl jobs to be found, not both.

The last just disappoints me. It tells me that some places just don’t regard perl and perl developers very highly. And yes, I wouldn’t want to work at a place like that. But when you’re already having a hard time finding prospective work, having someone regard your work so poorly just seems to add insult to injury.


  1. It's not hard to find a perl job. It's hard to find a good paying perl job. It's even harder to find a good perl job that pays well.

  2. It's not hard to find perl developers. Everyone who can code can code perl. It's hard to find good perl developers because they tend to stay employed at those elusive good perl jobs that pay well.
  3. See #1.

Mr Muskrat is right. I have been fortunate to find jobs where Perl is the requirement and which pay well according to surveys, not extremely well, but slightly above average.

I have found them by having multiple key words that are of interest to the employer. I've been lucky to find some who are looking for a swiss army knife of skills but centrally Perl and shell rather than Perl only. I've seen good jobs which require Perl but also require that swiss army knife of skills... even when Perl is the primary driver.

Here in London, there seems to be a fair number of companies always looking for decent Perl developers, and not that many good Perl developers (and, as you say, the good ones tend to stay employed at the good employers...).

I'm heartened to hear that there are so many perl jobs out there, because I've never found one. I'm one of those swiss-army-knife guys Mr. Z. talks about. I've never been hired to code perl; I get hired to sysadmin a server or find a bug in an e-commerce package or mine a mail server's logs for data, and I use perl for a lot of tasks because it suits me and the task.

The problem with that is, it doesn't give me a portfolio of perl code that's very suitable for applying for perl-specific jobs. I don't "develop" in perl so much as script in it, so I'm usually putting functionality and development speed way ahead of things like style and readability. It's not the kind of pretty code that I'd like to show off to prospective clients. What I probably need to do is sit down and write one good app or module to serve as my showcase.

I hate to do this, but I think we need to rely on some stats here. Go to jobs.perl or monster and you'll see there's jobs.

I know in Toronto from an anecdotal POV there's a lot of Perl jobs to be had, and if you really want a Perl job I suggest you attend Toronto Perl mongers, get on the mailing-list and advertise that fact.

The problem is that your post and 1/2 of this post are based on anecdotal evidence. I think this kind of posts hurts the perl community more because it lacks a reality check.

Monster.com says 77 perl jobs in the USA.

In the past month 6 perl jobs on monster.ca (13 java jobs in the past 2 days though).

3 Lisp jobs in Canada for the past month.

26 lisp jobs in US on monster.com (note: I've found that lisp and Haskell are used to advertise for very self-motivated polyglot programmers, it doesn't mean they'll be using it).

Let me just chime in and say that, yes, there are Perl jobs in Toronto. Some of them, in fact, pay well. I just lost a co-worker this week to another Perl job in town. However, the jobs aren't secret -- they're advertised on jobs.perl.org and on the Toronto.pm mailing list. If you come out to the meetings you can easily get your head around the job situation here. I don't think there's a good substitute for making those personal connections and I think that's generally the case regardless of where you're at.

As far as not having a portfolio goes, I don't think you need to *create* an app or module. There are lots of existing projects you can contribute to and make an impact on very quickly. Writing a module is cool (don't get me wrong), but if you get involved in an existing project it tells me not only about your code, but also how you work as part of a group, which would also be helpful info in a hiring situation.

Olaf, that's a good idea, about pitching in on an existing project instead of trying to come up with something new. I'll have to find something like that.

Leanan, that reminds me, I did get one job thanks to my knowledge of perl. The company already had a php programmer, but they were using a few perl legacy perl scripts too, and she couldn't really understand them well enough to customize/debug them. So they hired me to handle the small bit of perl stuff, and I ended up spending most of my time on the php stuff when it turned out she wasn't great at that either. I still don't like PHP (an understatement) but it pays the bills, and now I'm in a position to work perl in wherever it makes sense.

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About Leanan

user-pic I lurk, mostly. It should go without saying, but the views and opinions expressed here are $mine && $mine alone.