Why is booking.com hiring so many developers?

By this time folks know that I've been working hard trying to recruit more people for booking.com. They didn't ask me to, but I do this because I find it fun and I like working with people. Also, if you read my expat blog, you know that I want to help people live and work in other countries. I'm very fortunate that this passion of mine fits very well with my current employer's desire to move people to Europe. Yes, I get paid a bonus for everyone I refer, but I also tell everyone that if they don't want to go through me, they can apply directly to our jobs portal. Extra money is nice, but I'll happily forego that if I can help you live your dream of being an expat.

By now, many of you have seen our advertisement on jobs.perl.org advertising that we're hiring 20+ Perl developers. Many people have speculated as to why. This is to put to rest some of rumors which seem to go around.

What surprised me about this is that many people aren't asking why we want to hire so many. They're just tossing out guesses. Aside from the person who mistakenly thought we were a recruiting agency, here are some of the wildly incorrect guesses I've heard.

Employee Churn
booking.com must be horrible to work for if they need to constantly replace programmers.
Low pay
Obviously booking.com isn't paying enough if they're struggling to find people.
Incompetent
Any shop trying to hire 20 Perl employees at once doesn't know what they're doing.
Dutch IT workers must be awful
If booking.com can't hire Dutch workers, clearly Dutch IT workers aren't very good

Frankly, I don't know why people keep tossing out such wild theories rather than asking, but they do. Many people seem to assume that we're malevolent or incompetent and it surprises me that people do this, but perhaps this is their experience with other companies.

Here's what's really going on.

Employee Churn
Actually, I see much lower churn here than at other companies I've worked at. People like working here.
Low pay
I've heard rumors that booking.com used to be like this many years ago. I know that they were struggling after the dot com crash, but they're not now. I don't know if this problem is really how it used to be, but it's not the case today.
Incompetent
We advertise that we want 20+ Perl programmers because we don't want people to think this is a one-shot deal. We deliberately limit our intake to ensure that their transition is as smooth as possible, but we still need more.
Dutch IT workers must be awful
No. The Netherlands has a fantastic hacking culture. The problem is simply that most of Europe has a severe shortage of skilled workers.

So why are we hiring so many? It's simple: we've been growing massively for several years. We actually have no problem finding plenty of new employees because we work so hard to recruit. We just know that we've been growing so fast for so long that we can only keep up with recruiting needs by keeping ourselves in front of the Perl community. That's why we donate a lot of money to the Perl Foundation, we sponsor conferences and we let people know that we'll pay people to move to Europe.

So I hope this will put to rest some of the rumors that appear to be swirling around. Booking.com is a fun place to work and Amsterdam is a lovely place to live.

8 Comments

If I was better at Perl...I just might. :)

Perl is neither a sufficient, nor a necessary requirement. We've hired people with no or limited Perl skills, and we have not hired some people with great Perl skills.

At Booking.com, we need people that can, and will take responsibility, can grasp what the business want, and act accordingly. Lack of Perl skills can certainly be compensated, for instance by having good general programming and database knowledge.

If you're good, and have the willingness to learn Perl, don't hesitate to apply.

I think I need to retake my English classes... :)

I sure hope you guys are still hiring next year, because after I've finished my travels round australia I'm moving to amsterdam, and I love perl. So yeah, don't forget me!

Hi Ovid, I have applied this job post for two reason.

One, I'm curious how can you guys at booking.com can create such an awesome reservation system. I really want to learn how to create such a great things.

Two, I LOVE Amsterdam :) i't such a great city with diverse nationality. I've been in Arnhem for one year and frequently visiting Amsterdam since they have many many art/creative communities.

I have interviewed once by Ingrid, and next Thursday they said the IT department will interview me again.

Do you have any tips for the upcoming interview?

I wish I can join you there in Amsterdam and hacking a cool system with Perl :)

Hi, just found this post while doing a bit of research for booking.com, since I applied and got invited for a technical interview. I would appreciate some advice about what I can expect, especially as a non-Perl developer (I am mainly Java, with C++ before that, and some knowledge of Ruby and Python)

Can you tell me about the similar companies like Booking.com in Netherlands?

Nenad, how did that technical interview turn out for you? What are the topics they are interested in? (I'm considering applying for a position there and I'm a Java developer too).

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About Ovid

user-pic Have Perl; Will Travel. Freelance Perl/Testing/Agile consultant. Photo by http://www.circle23.com/. Warning: that site is not safe for work. The photographer is a good friend of mine, though, and it's appropriate to credit his work.