Alternative sources of Perl programmers

Aaron Trevena aaron.trevena at
Tue May 14 11:29:44 BST 2013

On 13 May 2013 22:22, Duncan Garland <duncan.garland at> wrote:
> We're advertising for a Perl programmer again, and once again we are
> struggling. It's a shame because we've got quite a lot of development work
> in the offing, mostly using Catalyst, DBIx::Class, Moose and the like.

That's a good start but not much to go on...

Where and how are you advertising?

What sort of role is it, and how does the salary (presumably you're
advertising a salary range) stack up against the market for your

> I spoke to the agent today and asked why so few people are coming forward.
> His view was that there aren't many Perl vacancies about at the moment, and
> even fewer people are interested in them.

The agent is talking bollocks, find another - some actually specialise
in Perl so they must be confident that there are both enough
candidates and vacancies to make a living from. The number of perl
vacancies and developers are both increasing based on all the data

> What are other companies doing about this?

Lots of different things, telecommute, offering salaries that match or
beat what you'd get with the same experience with Java, offering
flexitime and other decent benefit packages that make it worth taking
the job and sticking with it.

> We've got several PHP projects on the go as well. It's easier to get local
> PHP programmers and when we can't, there seems to be a constant supply of
> good Eastern European programmers. Why isn't there the same stream of
> Eastern European Perl programmers?

I've never found that a problem myself - both my current and previous
employers have recruited developers from eastern europe, they're not
10 a penny, but good developers aren't 10 a penny for any tech in any

> A second possibility is to cross-train experienced programmers from other
> languages into Perl. However, Perl has got itself such a reputation for
> being difficult to learn that the CTO winces whenever I suggest the idea.

At headforwards we've cross-trained maybe a quarter of the development
team from C++ and other tech, it was very successful, to the point
where some have been promoted into very senior roles within 2 years.

That was without formal perl training - of which there is plenty
available like Dave Cross' courses and perl academy.

> How have other companies got on when they've said that they will take
> experience in Python/Django or Ruby/Rails or whatever in lieu of experience
> in Perl/Catalyst? Was anybody interested and did they succeed?

That should work fine, the only problem I can forsee is the problem
widely seen with python developers with a big chip on their shoulders
about perl, they can and should be weeded out at interviews tho.

I don't believe you've linked to the ad yet, I'm guessing you've
already advertised on, and your local LUG.

Other places you can use social networking to advertise are twitter (I
got my current job via a twitter tip), coderwall (which is a really
nice way to showcase your company and team), by sending your team to
conferences and workshops to talk about your projects (a 5 second "oh,
and we're hiring" at the end is usually acceptable, at least from what
I've seen).

You can also look at your recruitment process and advertising copy
itself - does your ad stand out, does it meet the basic criteria of
what a developer needs or wants to know (pay, location, will this
company be in business in 18 months or fold, will I learn or work with
new things, is there a career path/training/etc, is there a package as
a whole including benefits, working hours, holiday, etc that will give
me a better quality of life, etc)

Hiring perl developers isn't *that* difficult, we've managed to
recruit a large number over the last 2 years - despite our office
location in Cornwall (which is also a selling point but to a much
smaller pool of people), and despite all roles being on-site.



Aaron J Trevena, BSc Hons
LAMP System Integration, Development and Consulting

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