How to reach recruiters?
This question came up recently on the comments of a blog post. I can’t really answer that question. What I can try and answer is how to get more recognition as a Perl programmer and how to create a public portfolio, making it easier for you to find a job.
This is mostly a clean up of what I originally wrote in the comment, and I would thank you to add your own comments. John Napiorkowski has proposed a recruiters resource page on Perl.org and is working on how such a page would look. This information might be useful for a counterpart to it, completing both questions of how recruiters could reach programmers and how programmers can be more visible to recruiters and other viable employers. John has written a first post on his website. That’s a good place to start.
My advice sums up to “be out there”. Be where people see you. Exist in the public’s eye. This sounds opaque at first, but the following is an expansion on that. Let me add that you don’t have to be looking for work in order to embrace these ideas, but if you are looking for work, embracing at least some of these will most likely assist you.
Go to Perl Mongers meetings
Perl Mongers meetings were originally for social purposes but they provide several advantages these days.
First of all, you improve your actual skill as a Perl programmer. You get to hear talks, learn new technologies and improve yourself. This is very important. Always improve, never stagnant.
Secondly, you get to meet people. These people might be looking to hire (whether they are employers themselves or their company is looking for new hires) or they might know others who are looking to hire someone. Some of us are approached occasionally about ventures and possible projects and when we can’t take them up, we search for people we know to whom we can point.
Many a-times I was contacted by people who I met at meetings, and have contacted them myself.
Show off your knowledge when you’re there
Giving a talk at a Perl Mongers meeting is a great way to show others that you know subjects, show off your knowledge of Perl or how to accomplish certain tasks. You can even give a short talk about a cool trick you did at work. It doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t have to be insane. You can give a beginners talk, help others understand things you already do.
Also, the research for a talk usually helps you understand the material better yourself, which goes out to improving yourself.
Contribute to a module
This can be documentation, testing, typos, small things you already know shouldn’t be used (indirect new() call, not using defined() when needed, switches of any type, etc.) - this is a major issue.
When you contribute to a project, you’re out there. You meet people. You exist. You don’t have to use your actual name, you can use a moniker of any kind, so anonymity can still be preserved. When you give out your resume, you can link to your free software contributions and you get credit for it. It’s part of your resume! Some bosses look for you online and then can find your work. These days having free software contributions can count for a lot.
My boss for almost 5 years now saw my CPAN contributions before interviewing me in person and was so impressed I didn’t need to take the practical test. I was simply accepted as “able to write readable production code”.
Ask anyone if you’re looking to contribute. You’ll get a list twice the length of the sun! If you’re not sure, contact me.
Go to YAPC
It’s like a much bigger crazier version of Perl Mongers. There is also a job fair!
Everything I said about Perl Mongers counts ten times as much when it comes to YAPC. Also, in YAPC people try hard to make it possible for anyone to meet everyone. Just show up at a YAPC and say you’re new. Write it on your blog. It will work, trust me.
Connecting with people is important
When people you’ve met know you’re looking for work, they pass along your info to their company. If they know you from a conference, from a talk you gave at a meeting, from a module you wrote or contributed to, this gives you more credibility.
I sometimes get asked about people in the community, whether I know them and can recommend them. If it’s someone I know, and I can recommend, I happily do so. Lucky for me (or those who ask me), I’ve worked with quite a few and many of them are very skilled. The people you make contact with might be the ones that will be asked about you, and they could recommend you.
You can get a free Perl-related blog on blogs.perl.org. You can write about anything relating to Perl. You could write about modules you’ve learned to use, about experiences you had at work or outside of work, getting stuff done with Perl, asking for advice, how you handled certain problems, beginner/newbie tips, more, more, and more.
Upload a module to CPAN
I talked about contributing to modules, but maybe you have a module you wrote for yourself? Perhaps you could polish it up and upload it? When contributing to projects, it’s considered an honor to release it. Some will gladly share that honor with you (did I already suggest contacting me?). You get your name on some stuff, spread the word around.
I probably missed a bunch of stuff John could add, but hey, that’s a good fucking start right there. Suddenly you’re not anonymous anymore, you’re that person who wrote those blog posts, who I met at YAPC, who I met at the Perl Mongers, who uploaded that module I saw/used/talked about, who contributed to all these other projects, who I work with on this or that! As soon as I hear about an opening, I’m contacting you.
Oh, and important to note, that the more involved you get (meeting, contacting, writing, cooperating), the better you get at what you do, and the more you learn, and the more you can offer!