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Code Samples and Previous Employers

by friedo (Prior)
on Mar 20, 2005 at 03:07 UTC ( #440978=perlmeditation: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

A couple years ago I was looking for a job, and several of the interviewers asked for code samples. I was happy to hand over some rather trivial or academic things I had banged out in my spare time which I felt illustrated my skill level and good code-writing habits. One interviewer asked if I had anything more substantial to show him; something that was more "real-world" than academic. Unfortunately, all the large, real-world stuff I had worked on until that point was proprietary software for my previous employer, and as I no longer worked there, I didn't have access to it anymore. I explained the gist of the projects I worked on, what they did, how they were designed, and so on, but he was not satisfied. I explained that the projects were proprietary, and even if I still had the actual code, I couldn't give it to him.

He explained that, "for future reference" it was "expected" of programmers to keep real-world samples of their code from proprietary jobs, and that he had stuff he had worked on for a number of large companies. That certainly did not sit well with me, but I was looking for work, and even went so far as to ask my old boss if he could send me some of the stuff I had worked on. (In this case, a base class that would be pretty useless without the real guts in the derived classes.) Of course my old boss said no as expected.

I've only had three full-time jobs in my carreer thus far (one for three years, one for three months, and my current one.) But I've been on at least 25 interviews during that time. Several of them asked for code samples, but only that one asked to see proprietary code. After thinking about that experience for a while, I realized that he was probably just incompetent at best, a jerk at worst, except for what he mentioned about it being "expected" for programmers to keep stuff they've worked on. That still piques my curiosity. So,

  1. What do you provide when interviewers ask for code samples? Do you try to tailor your samples to the specific requirements of the job?
  2. Has an interviewer ever asked you for proprietary code? What was your response?
  3. Do you keep code you have worked on in the past, even if it is just for reference and you have no intention of showing it to anyone?
  4. If so, do you think this is a normal or common practice among programmers?

I didn't get that job, of course, and my current employer didn't ask for any code samples at all. (And it has turned out to be a great job.) So I'm interested in your experiences.

Comment on Code Samples and Previous Employers
Re: Code Samples and Previous Employers
by tilly (Archbishop) on Mar 20, 2005 at 04:28 UTC
    I do not expect programmers to have a library of code stolen from previous employers, and if a programmer boasted about such in an interview, then that would be a red flag for me.

    If you cannot judge someone's general ability from a few pages of their code that they select, then you don't know what you're looking for.

    My personal solution is to have enough code here and elsewhere that is public that I have no shortage of code samples to provide.

Re: Code Samples and Previous Employers
by dws (Chancellor) on Mar 20, 2005 at 05:03 UTC

    He explained that, "for future reference" it was "expected" of programmers to keep real-world samples of their code from proprietary jobs, and that he had stuff he had worked on for a number of large companies.

    I'll bet his company lawyer wasn't in the room when he said that, or he'd have gotten taken out and spanked.

    I spent many years as a hiring manager. If someone brought proprietary code into an interview, they'd get flunked on the spot. And it did happen a few times. You don't start a trust-based relationship by demonstrating how easily you'll break legal agreements.

    At my current job, we ask candidates for a code sample for a generic problem we pose. That keeps things safe and neutral, and helps prevent misrepresentations over authorship. (And we follow-up with some problem solving at a whiteboard for candidates who make it through written screening.)


    Edited to add: A lot of people never get training on the legal and ethical aspects of recruiting and hiring, which is a shame, since some people have odd ideas about what's appropriate, and in some places the lines are drawn seemingly arbitrarily (at least in the U.S.). If you find yourself interviewing candidates and you're not sure what's legal to ask, track down someone in your HR department and ask them. If they don't know, work your way up the department until you find someone who does know. Getting a synopsis of the rules shouldn't take more than an hour (in the U.S., at least).

      You don't start trust-based relationship by demonstrating how easily you'll break legal agreements.
      That's assuming you are breaking legal agreements.
        You don't start trust-based relationship by demonstrating how easily you'll break legal agreements.

        Unless it's a government spy agency,(or a company fronting for the mob ) interview. :-)


        I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth. flash japh

        Regardless of what you sign when you start working for someone, any code you write under an employer belongs to the employer unless explicitly stated otherwise. What the interviewer in the OP was asking was likely illegal in just about any Western country.

        "There is no shame in being self-taught, only in not trying to learn in the first place." -- Atrus, Myst: The Book of D'ni.

        ... leave out the word legal, and it's still valid:

        You don't start trust-based relationship by demonstrating how easily you'll break agreements.

        Unless you have permission of the employer of course :)

Re: Code Samples and Previous Employers
by autarch (Hermit) on Mar 20, 2005 at 06:18 UTC

    The person you talked to was obviously an idiot. You don't give out code owned by a previous employer for any reason.

    OTOH, it's not unreasonable to mandate that applicants have some specific free software contribution they can point to as an example. This shows several things. First, it shows that the person is geek enough to enjoy coding on their free time. Second, it gives you an idea of what they think is their best work, since you generally have more time perfect your free software code than code you are paid to write (unless of course the two overlap).

    As a semi-aside, one of the best things you can do for your career is make noticeable contributions to free software projects and/or start your own. This is basically free publicity to insiders at hundreds (thousands?) of companies.

    My current full time job came about because one of the company's other employees, Brian Ingerson of Kwiki fame, knew about my various Perl modules and thought I'd be a good fit as a new hire based on that, even though he and I hadn't worked together previously.

    Much of the work I've gotten in the past few years has come to me at least in part because of my free software contributions. I've obviously spent a pretty large amount of my own time on this stuff, but it's definitely made my career path much, much easier. Since I like to code but I hate to look for work, this has worked out well for me.

    Given that employment is not a sure thing, it can't hurt to start building up a free software profile right now. If you're not sure where to start, there's things like the Phalanx Project, or the Linux Kernel Janitor Project. These can be nice ways to get a start. Even better, see if you can get your current employer to let you release some code, or to work on improving existing CPAN modules you use in house.

      OTOH, it's not unreasonable to mandate that applicants have some specific free software contribution they can point to as an example. This shows several things. First, it shows that the person is geek enough to enjoy coding on their free time.

      Actually, as an architect that is part of the interviewing team, I've found that the best programmers we've hired are people that do have outside interests. When they go to program, they bring the wealth of other experiences with them.

      Not only that, but those who spend the majority of their time coding seem to lose social skills which make them a viable part of the team atmosphere we engender at work.

        Doing free software work in one's free time is not the same as not having other interests. Besides coding, I do animal rights activism, read a lot, play go, watch films, hang out with friends, etc. So yes, if the only thing the person ever does is code, that might be problematic. OTOH, if coding is purely a day job, and not something they enjoy enough to do in their free time as well, they probably aren't going to be as good a coder as the person who pursues it out of sheer interest.
Re: Code Samples and Previous Employers
by starbolin (Hermit) on Mar 20, 2005 at 06:21 UTC

    .oO( Interviewer: "I see here you worked on security systems for nuclear power plants. Could I see the control codes for those plants?"

    This guy was, at best, so afraid of making a mistake he couldn't see past his nose or, at worst, a crook. The only correct response is either: "I can't do that but perhaps we could review something you are working on." or "I'm shocked you would ask such a thing and I think I don't want to work for you."

    s//----->\t/;$~="JAPH";s//\r<$~~/;{s|~$~-|-~$~|||s |-$~~|$~~-|||s,<$~~,<~$~,,s,~$~>,$~~>,, $|=1,select$,,$,,$,,1e-1;print;redo}
Re: Code Samples and Previous Employers
by brian_d_foy (Abbot) on Mar 20, 2005 at 07:44 UTC

    Proprietary code is named that for a reason. I've never had anyone ask for something that they shouldn't see, and I wouldn't show them anyway.

    For the last interview I went to (didn't get the job), I asked if they wanted to see any code samples, and the guy said "I saw your CPAN directory, and my developers know your name, so I guess you pass." That's the way to do it I guess. :)

    For the job I have now, it started as "I've seen your stuff on usenet, and I'd like to talk to you." Not everyone's boss reads usenet though. Randal does though (and a hint to the people who been asking if Stonehenge has any work: you end up talking to me, but it's a lot easier if Randal has seen you enough in the various places he hangs out that he remembers your name ;)

    --
    brian d foy <bdfoy@cpan.org>
      That is bizarre. Do you have any idea why he would say "my developers know your name, so I guess you pass," and then not give you the job?

      metadoktor

      "The doktor is in."

        Not that bizarre, actually.

        For instance, they might had a new project in mind when they started the recruitment process and then didn't get the project.

        This has actually happened to me in the past. The guys called me back saying "we'd really like to hire you, but it won't be possible for us right now, because we didn't get the project we were expecting".

        (incidentally, they later on got the project and hired me, just four months later; I'm currently happily working there, er, here)

        In that case, they hired from within, which really pissed me off. If they had told me that they were considering an internal candidate, I wouldn't have bothered to schedule an interview.

        --
        brian d foy <bdfoy@cpan.org>
Re: Code Samples and Previous Employers
by jhourcle (Prior) on Mar 20, 2005 at 16:26 UTC
    1. What do you provider when interviewers ask for code samples? Do you try to tailor your samples to the specific requirements of the job?

    I provide stuff that's not under an NDA or similar, and is in the very least whatever language they're asking for. I try to select code samples that are similar to the project I'm being hired for, and make sure that whatever I give is well-commented, consistent in style and formatting, etc. (which may require reformatting some scripts so they all match).

    2. Has an interviewer ever asked you for proprietary code? What was your response?

    No one so far has, but I've also been rather selective in where I apply for jobs (non profits, education, government). Personally, I'm glad I've never been in that position, but I'm guessing that if I were, I'd walk out. In some ways, this is exactly what Apple is suing Think Secret about -- soliciting information that they knew was under protective contractual agreements.

    3. Do you keep code you have worked on in the past, even if it is just for reference and you have no intention of showing it to anyone?

    Very little of the work I've done was under NDA, so I don't have the problem you do. I still have copies of the work I've done under NDA, as I made sure when I sign an NDA that they understand that I write modular code, and that I might re-use the parts of the code in other projects, but that I won't reveal specifics about the project, or connect those parts back to the original project. (but that it's often the only way I can give them value for their money, as I'd otherwise have to rewrite from scratch their entire project)

    4. If so, do you think this is a normal or common practice among programmers?

    I think it's reasonable to not keep any code that might be a liability to hold on to. (like if you could be sued if someone knew you had it.)

    As for the situation in general, programmers are not 'expected' to do anything that breaks the law. I would not want to hire someone who is willing to disregard any previous agreements they might have been under, as it's then likely that they'll disregard the new company's agreements. (it's like going out with someone who's cheating on someone else -- what makes you think they're not also going to cheat on you?)

    I'm personally not a big fan of code samples in terms of hiring. The times I've screened people for hiring, I've prefered to go the route of questioning them on how much they knew -- I would have had no way of proving that they were the one who wrote the code, or what parts they contributed on larger projects, how much they actually understood of the code (ie, if parts were copied from someone else, without any understanding of what it's actually doing). Besides, for long-term hirings, skills can be taught -- making sure the person has the correct personality to fit within the organization can't.

Re: Code Samples and Previous Employers
by chanio (Priest) on Mar 20, 2005 at 19:23 UTC
    Perhaps your future job was for one of those big companies that steal others programs to improve theirs.

    If they asked me to show some propietary script, I might also, choose some from the best programmers in the OS sources and say it was mine!

    So, asking that, might only be a way of knowing if they could trust me to fit in their way of working. Just that!

    .{\('v')/}   C H E E R   U P !
     _`(___)' ___a_l_b_e_r_t_o_________
    
    Wherever I lay my KNOPPIX disk, a new FREE LINUX nation could be established.
Re: Code Samples and Previous Employers
by Mr. Muskrat (Abbot) on Mar 20, 2005 at 20:37 UTC

    What do you provide when interviewers ask for code samples?

    I tell them that they are more than welcome to look at my nodes here. I have both good and bad code and answers here. I would hope that someone would not solely look at what I have contributed in the first or last six to twelve months but selections from the entire length of time that I have been a member. They could focus only on the code or they could also look at how I answer people's questions. I'm coming up on my third anniversary here (it's hard to believe) and I'd like to think that I have honed my skills in all areas during that time.

Re: Code Samples and Previous Employers
by perrin (Chancellor) on Mar 21, 2005 at 02:14 UTC
    Well, I have to say I totally disagree with you, and with nearly everyone who has posted on this thread. It's one thing to make a copy of the nuclear missile launch program you've been contracting on and send the whole thing with an operating manual to a new prospective employer as a sample. It's an entirely different thing to keep some code you wrote to do some random database-backed website, and show a little isolated piece of it to an interviewer.

    The guy who interviewed you had expectations that don't surprise me at all. Most people keep some code that they've written for work, and most people I interview bring samples of things they wrote for work.

    All this talk about "ooh, it's proprietary!" and companies wanting to steal from another company's codebase by taking it from you is frankly totally out of proportion. I think you guys are being far too deferential to annoying corporate attitudes here. Sure, it's nice to have some CPAN code to show, and I would encourage anyone to pursue that, but I certainly don't consider it a character flaw if a programmer wants to show me some random chunk of code from a previous employer.

        All this talk about "ooh, it's proprietary!" and companies wanting to steal from another company's codebase by taking it from you is frankly totally out of proportion.

      Certainly there's one monk here who found out the hard way that an agreement with one's employer can have a real impact on how you're supposed to behave.

      From a technology point of view, I agree with you -- seeing someone else's script that does input validation then puts data into a database, or takes stuff out and displays it, is all pretty boring.

      From a legal or ethical point of view, things change. That's the part that carries more weight in this situation -- is it ethical for me to show off some of my current employer's code if I'm under an NDA? I'm pretty certain the answer is, "No, I'm not allowed to do that".

      One solution is to write some code that you own alone, maybe even samples that have been posted on this site. My local example is something I really did write myself and shows that at one time I was able to wrap my brain around writing some Object Oriented Perl -- albeit just a single module. I am currently working on something that's a bit more complicated, but it's not done yet.

        I certainly don't consider it a character flaw if a programmer wants to show me some random chunk of code from a previous employer.

      Perhaps with the previous employer's blessing that would be OK -- or possibly for some code that's way out of date -- like some C code I write wrote 15 years ago. Otherwise, I disagree -- proprietary code is proprietary code.

      Alex / talexb / Toronto

      "Groklaw is the open-source mentality applied to legal research" ~ Linus Torvalds

      Update: Fixed typo.

        This has only the most superficial similarities to tilly's case. It's not about releasing code or contributing to a public forum, it's about taking a couple of pages of code along to an interview.

        It should be obvious that I'm not talking about work involving security clearances or explicit NDAs. I'm talking about the kind of work that most of us spend our time on -- data munging, HTML parsing, server monitoring, e-mail manipulation -- all that good stuff. Also, code samples are supposed to be short chunks of code that demonstrate your knowledge of programming concepts like encapsulation and good variable names. There's no need to bring in a complete program, or even complete file.

        If someone walked into an interview with a bunch of code that handles money transfers for a major bank, I'd consider that pretty disturbing, but bringing in a snippet of code that calculates the right justification on a column in a PDF for some daily report is reasonable and does no real harm to anyone.

        If it worries you, then don't do it, but you'd better find another way to create some code samples then. Hiring a programmer without a code sample is like hiring a writer without reading any of her work.

      I think people are mixing two things together here. If we're talking about full time employment, it's safe to assume that whatever work you did is not shareable, absent an agreement to the contrary.

      For consulting/contract work, things are more complicated. When I was doing consulting, I tried to avoid signing agreements giving my clients ownership of the code. If they insisted on it, I made it clear that much of the code would probably be generic and generally the same as previous projects I'd done, and that I'd reuse similar pieces in the future. I also made them sign an explicit disclaimer on all my free software projects.

      So if you're doing consulting, then I'd say that being asked to produce code samples based on previous work is entirely reasonable. But the original post sounded to me more like a full time job situation.

        I think we would all agree that taking a complete project's worth of code from an employer and giving it to another company would be a gross violation of copyright. That isn't what we're talking about here.

        People who I interview routinely bring me code snippets from previous employers. These are on the order of "this chunk of code searches a big text file for these fixed-width fields and sorts the records on this key" or similar. They are nearly meaningless without context, but are plenty good enough to get a sense of the person's basic coding practices.

        I would never ask someone to bring code from a previous employer, but I do ask them to bring code samples, and that's usually what they bring. Some of them bring CPAN stuff, or code they write specifically for the interview that is tailored to the tools listed in the job ad (a good strategy if you can do it), but most bring stuff they wrote on the job, and I'm fine with it.

      I have been on the other side of this -- I've asked a candidate for a code sample, and received obviously proprietary code in response. In fact, it was proprietary code that was very closely related to what my company was working on. Consider this from my point of view: by sending that code to me, the candidate was exposing me personally to a lawsuit from his previous employer! At the very least, it forces me to be much more cautious about how I implement that same feature for our system.

      In this case, I felt that the candidate was being unprofessional (I highly doubt he was being malicious). He simply didn't think through the ramifications of his actions. I also blame myself, because it's an easy mistake for a candidate to make and I should have been very explicit when I made the request in the first place.

      That said, it's also easy to take this too far. If everyone were to go by the strict legal interpretation, then very few people would have anything other than silly class projects for code samples. (I see very few CPAN authors applying for our open positions. /msg me and ask for a job if you want to prove me wrong!) The way I see it, I spend enough extra time working that I can ethically claim that some portion of the code I write for my job really belongs to me, and I am simply giving my company unlimited free reuse rights. That of course does not apply to anything directly related to what my company does. But I don't really care if I used company resources to develop the code; I develop plenty of code for my company without using its resources, and I'm only talking about stuff that's never going to hurt them to reveal. I'm sure that I have no legal ground to stand on, but I will always follow ethical rules over legal ones when I can get away with it.

      I'd also think that the OP's interviewer was being neither idiotic nor malicious. His expectation was not an unreasonable one given his personal experiences. It was just mildly dumb and flat-out wrong. The OP told him his opinion of the situation, and it was both reasonable and legally correct. "Maybe so, but I still want you to break the law for me" is not an appropriate response.

      Oh, and if you're looking for a job and haven't previously squandered away a stash of sample code, then you'd better sit down and write something. If I were the interviewer, I won't accept the lack of any non-proprietary code as an excuse to not provide a sample at all. But I'll be fine if you write something new, especially if you explain to me that you did that because you didn't have anything legally available. (Or just anything that you weren't too embarrassed to show.) I don't care if it ends up with way more comments and much more thought in it than a realistic code sample would. Those things are easily noticed, and I always interpret code samples more as what the candidate things good code should look like rather than what they actually write day to day. I can still get a good handle on the candidate's maturity of expression. (Imagine reading an essay written by someone who has only taken three years of English lessons. No matter how long they spent on it, you'll be able to gauge the level of sophistication. Unless they cheat using a fluent speaker.)

      I certainly don't consider it a character flaw if a programmer wants to show me some random chunk of code from a previous employer.

      It's not a matter of "character flaws": it's just that it's not legal to copy code in violation of copyright!

      Suppose you're the guy in the interview chair. If I tell you how I violated your previous employer's legal rights, why should you think I won't violate yours someday? If I don't have the discression to keep the illegal things I've done quiet, why should you believe that I'm discerning enough to trust with confidential company information? If, during the interview, when I'm putting my best foot forward, I still end up suggesting that I can't be trusted, why on earth should you trust me?

      I agree that corporate attitudes are annoying, and I have a firm desire for copyright reform: that's why I write my Member of Parliment, and lobby for change. However, I don't selectively break the aspects of laws that I dislike: and I certainly don't expect a potential employer to be sympathetic if I do.
      --
      AC

        If you don't selectively break copyright laws now and then, you must be a real stickler for following rules. Most people feel fine about photocopying a page they need from a book, or taping a song from a friend's CD, despite the technical illegality of these acts. Showing an isolated snippet of code from a previous employer is of about the same magnitude as these standard violations.

        If I found out that someone who worked for me in the past was using bits of code he wrote for me when applying for jobs, it wouldn't bother me in the slightest. Giving a complete copy of a company project to a competitor who might actually be interested in it would be a different issue, but that's not what we're talking about here.

Re: Code Samples and Previous Employers
by pboin (Deacon) on Mar 21, 2005 at 13:13 UTC

    I'm a little late on this thread, but I will suggest one theme that's only been lightly covered here:

    On an interview, it's your opportunity to interview the company right back. You're about to get your reputation co-mingled with theirs, and you're about to deal with them most of your waking hours most of the days! I'm really a big believer in that.

    You're bringing as much to the table in talent as they are in cashish, so you should be the interviewer every bit as much as they are.

Re: Code Samples and Previous Employers
by cog (Parson) on Mar 21, 2005 at 14:58 UTC
    1) What do you provide when interviewers ask for code samples? Do you try to tailor your samples to the specific requirements of the job?

    Not that I've ever been asked, but I include in my resume a link to my modules on the CPAN.

    I believe what has worked best for me were people telling good things about me to my current employer.

    2) Has an interviewer ever asked you for proprietary code? What was your response?

    No. Never.

    3) Do you keep code you have worked on in the past, even if it is just for reference and you have no intention of showing it to anyone?

    Given that I used to make backups of our stuff at my previous job and that I kept it at my home (backups next to the server are not particularly good in case of a fire, for instance) and that I still keep them... I have to say yes, I do. But I'm not planning on giving it to anyone else. OTOH, I might end up working there again... one never knows...

    Another thing is: I like to have my previous code for future reference. I might want to rememeber how I did a particular thing... and I don't think there's any harm in that... it's just me, looking at the code I wrote...

    4) If so, do you think this is a normal or common practice among programmers?

    I believe that those who don't keep code from previous employers are not actually avoiding doing that... they merely... don't do it! It's not like it's premeditated!

Re: Code Samples and Previous Employers
by EdwardG (Vicar) on Mar 21, 2005 at 16:32 UTC

    I would not expect a candidate to provide real code from previous employment unless that code was explicitly in the public domain.

    On the other hand, I would very much expect a candidate to be able to re-use the conceptual frameworks gained in previous employment. This is one of the benefits of experience.

    Copyright protects the tangible form of original creations, it does not protect intangibles such as knowledge of a framework.

    And I disagree with perrin. This is not merely an "annoying corporate attitude" but an issue of respecting the legal and ethical rights of a previous employer.

     

      Your comment about reusing conceptual frameworks sounds much more like a potential violation of copyright and non-compete agreements than the sort of thing I'm talking about -- showing someone a little piece of code from a database connection factory class or some such. No one would be able to gain significant business value from stealing the sort of isolated samples that interviewees have shown me over the years, but they could certainly benefit from getting a former Amazon employee to reveal the entire inner-workings of their page-generation system.

        You can't violate copyright by telling someone what you know, but you can violate copyright by copying something for which you don't own the copyright. A non-compete agreement is something else.

         

Re: Code Samples and Previous Employers
by tcf03 (Deacon) on Mar 21, 2005 at 17:06 UTC
    I am not a programmer, but a systems administrator. So, a lot of the code I wtrite is throw away code that could be easily re-created. I have kept several generic pieces of more significant code, leaving out the bits and pieces that might identify it as belonging to my old employer - rewriting some functions and bits of code where necessary. I would never hand something of a truely proprietary nature over.

    regards
    ted
Re: Code Samples and Previous Employers
by Juerd (Abbot) on Mar 21, 2005 at 20:52 UTC

    1. What do you provide when interviewers ask for code samples? Do you try to tailor your samples to the specific requirements of the job? 2. Has an interviewer ever asked you for proprietary code? What was your response? 3. Do you keep code you have worked on in the past, even if it is just for reference and you have no intention of showing it to anyone?

    1. DBIx::Simple and whatever they can find when they google for Juerd; 2. Yes, but I won't give it because I by default keep all code between client and me confidential; 3. No, if I keep it around, it is to ease maintenance.

    Juerd # { site => 'juerd.nl', plp_site => 'plp.juerd.nl', do_not_use => 'spamtrap' }

Re: Code Samples and Previous Employers
by scrubroot (Novice) on Mar 22, 2005 at 19:27 UTC

    While I haven't had to deal with this sort of thing in about 8 years, rumors of more layoffs at Big Pharma started my thought process moving in this direction. Early this year I realized that I would have this huge gap in my résumé since everything I have worked on in the past few years would be as if it never happened (from a perspective employer's point of view). Since I'm just a lowly contractor and not even an employee, the company I've been placed at is not even permitted to comment that I have been here or not. While I suspect a few managers would choose to ignore this rule for my sake, I can't count on it and prefer not to place the people worked for in that sort of position. Was I here cleaning the floors or writing code? I have no proof that I am permitted to show either way. It sucks, but I knew this might be a problem when I started.

    To get around this problem, I started building up a library of non-work related code that I've done at home on my own time as a sort of portfolio I could show to other potential employers (should the need arise). The only problem with this approach is that it takes time to develop anything worthwhile, so my collection of scripts is very small right now and doesn't really reflect what I'm capable of. I only wish I though of doing something like this a few years ago.

      To get around this problem, I started building up a library of non-work related code that I've done at home on my own time as a sort of portfolio I could show to other potential employers (should the need arise). The only problem with this approach is that it takes time to develop anything worthwhile

      In your case you are able to do this. Problems occur where people sign-on with companies that stipulate that we own everything:

        '...all code, ideas and design at work and home become the property of the company...' .
      Does everyone get a legal opinion on the contracts or new jobs they sign up for?

      This is a disadvantage of working for propriortry software companies that stupulate such rules. Of course on the other hand IP is exactly what companies see as a $$$ value in software and the reason they hire in the first place. I guess your solution works for you.

      Another way could be with your specific domain knowledge create a CPAN module and become the code owner with GPL over the code. Then negotiate a license over the code for commercial use and enhancements.

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    My favorite superfluous repetitious redundant duplicative phrase is:









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