Beefy Boxes and Bandwidth Generously Provided by pair Networks
Keep It Simple, Stupid

Perl Job

by gaggio (Friar)
on Aug 15, 2001 at 10:06 UTC ( #104968=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Ave my friends!

Well, there was an unexpected company meeting today, for an unexpected piece of news: my employer is going through a hard time financially and has taken the decision of separating himself of about 80% of his employees :-(

So there I am, part of the people having lost their job. I need to find another job, in software development, and I would like to find a job where I will be able to use my Perl skills.

So... I am asking you for advice about the position I should apply for, knowing that I have an MS in Computer Science in my bag of skills. Shall I apply for a networking engineer position, a sysadmin position, a web developer position? You could help me by simply telling me what position you have and in which situation/project you are using Perl as your programming language. Are there any 100% lucky Perl programmers out there? I mean, people living for Perl like merlyn?

Update: I posted second thoughts about e-working as a reply in the thread, and I am asking for your thoughts there as well.


Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Perl Job
by tinman (Curate) on Aug 15, 2001 at 10:52 UTC

    Well, to answer your question first: I am a software developer/lead. This is what I was hired for, but somewhere down the line, the corporate found out that I had DBA experience, so to the DB team I went.. The first piece of bad news: I don't use Perl very much at all these days. But when I did use it, it was for tasks as varied as getting dumps from databases, quick and dirty import and export jobs, data analysis, some CGI interfaces. Occasionally, I used it to organize my source files, make source distributions, I automated some jobs that I hated (like generating status reports) and I had fun too, like building a mirror server for cricket scores.... lots of things, in fact :o)

    Being in an environment that is not very friendly to new and hackerish programming languages (and Perl has that reputation here), here's one thing I've learnt. It doesn't matter what the position is. DBA types are supposed to deal with nothing except SQL and configuring databases, don't believe them. Network types, people will tell you, should just know one end of a cable tester from another, don't believe them either. :o) Web designers should just know HTML and Javascript like thingies.. that's not entirely true either.

    The fact of the matter is (as I've found it, anyway), that Perl is so versatile that you can use it in any one of the jobs that I mentioned above. It may not be a standard requirement that you know Perl to be hired for the job, in fact, far from it.. but if you know a glue language like Perl, it can only make your job easier if you use it in the appropriate place.

    If you want to use Perl and nothing but Perl, then you should look for a job like "Perl programmer". Heaven knows I've wanted to, but I don't think I know anything like enough Perl yet. Nothing else will work for you if all you want to do is Perl. If you look for a job called "Software engineer", then prepared to do stuff like VC++ or Java or whatever else the company uses.. :o) If you're like me, though, then rather than what language or particular technology a company is using is secondary to the type of work you will get to do once you are hired... Perhaps you should think about where you'd like your career to go, and where your interests lie as well ?

    I'm shocked and extremely sorry at what happened to you, though (and here I was thinking that the worst was over, little did I know :o(. Good luck on your job hunt...

Become a Perl contractor!
by dragonchild (Archbishop) on Aug 15, 2001 at 16:55 UTC
    I was an employee at Motorola doing test tools in OO-Perl. (I was completely working in OO-Perl applications development.) I was unhappy about 4 months ago, given the corporate instability in the telecom industry. So, I threw my resume up on hotjobs, monster, dice, and every other free resume site I could find. About 2 months later, I had a job.

    Things to (and not to) do:

    1. Update your resume. Make it as good as possible. Go through the resume-helper sites. If you can, get a recruiter to look at it and nitpick about the language. I had a friend who's in HR for sales look at mine and, even though she didn't know anything about what I did, she helped a lot with the formatting, etc.
    2. Put your resume out on the WWW. Recruiters scan those sites every single day.
    3. Apply for every single job title that remotely looks like you could do it. Ask good questions in the interview and ... YOU CAN ALWAYS SAY NO!
    4. Get search agents going. They didn't help me, but they have helped others immensely. They help you focus on a given set of geographical markets.
    5. Email bomb EVERYONE. It's just an email. It's not like you bought a stamp.
    6. Do NOT despair. You will get a job. It's just a matter of time. The economy is nowhere near recession. (Remember, unemployment is still under 5%.)
    7. Be willing to move, even just to the next town. You increase the number of jobs you can be considered for. (If you're willing to move to Columbus, email me at and I'll hook you up with my consulting firm.)
    8. And, most importantly, keep your chin up. Don't despair. /msg me if you need to. I'd be glad to talk with you.

    I'm now a contractor working in 100% Perl. (The kicker is I'm working with Verizon right now. *laughs*)

    Update: pmas is correct, in that you need to make yourself stand out. However, I still maintain that you should try to contact every single person you can. Send that resume, even if you know that you'll be rejected ... because you don't know. You might be that 1 in 100 people that skim through the weeding process. Every single one of us can learn to do pretty much any kind of programming/sysadmin job out there, in about 2-3 months. You can fake knowledge for that long, until you get up to speed. Right now, your goal is getting a paycheck. Once you have a paycheck, you can figure out what you want to do. Don't turn your nose up at a possible job, just cause you don't like the description. I've never worked at a job which matched the description in the ad. And, frankly, I don't think very many of us have, either.

    /me wants to be the brightest bulb in the chandelier!

    Vote paco for President!

      I agree with you, dragonchild, about need to contact every single person. But you need to do much more than just send resumes. Much more.

      Believe me, I was weeding out resumes (when working as a IT recruiter). Let me show you, fellow monks, how recruiter works. It is rather different from how you are looking for a position for yourself.

      If you are looking for a job, you are tempted to apply for any position related to computers, hoping (and you might be right) you can learn mostly anything in 3 months.

      If you are recruiter, you look at things differently. When you are looking for a candidate for a job, you start with one position to fill, job description, and thousands of resumes. You select couple of hundreds resumes mentioning certain keywords from job description. You need to weed out quickly as much resumes as you can, so you are looking for strongest skills first. If position ask for database admin, and you are strong network admin with some DBA skills, you will be weeded out - unless your cover letter says you are fed up with networks and fell in love in databases.

      After weeding out, recruiter starts with 20-50 candidates to email/call. No more that 2-3 will be selected to be interviewed. Company does not want to be carpet-bombed by resumes - they are paying fee to select strong candidates only. If recruiter sends more than 2-3 candidates, s/he may lose business - and no candidates will be accepted. That is why focused cover letter (clearly stating position) helps a lot. And as a recruiter, I do not mind if a candidate sends me 2 weeks later another cover letter for another position, and resume is slightly different from previous one.
      Also, as a recruiter you evaluate experience differently. Can you imagine that having too much experience is a red flag (if you have 10, when company ask for 3)? I'll tell you why: company suspects that you might accept job now, but might leave soon to more senior position. So if you have too much experience, you may want to state what other parts of job will be interesting to learn.

      So when you are sending out resumes, your first goal should be not to send many resumes, but send maybe 10 with high chance to be considered "good fit" for the position. That is why cover letter is so important. First paragraph: what position you want to apply and where it was advertised. (So recruiter can link it to position - s/he may work on couple of positions simultaneously. Second paragraph: 3-4 most important skills for the job you already have (and are mentioned in resume), formulated using keywords from job description, or why position will be good fit for you. Chances are, recruiter will "weed in" your resume on basis on this cover letter only. Remember, IT recruiter most likely is not a computer person at all. S/he might know that SQL mean databases, but never heard about Postgress database or DBI. So do not bother mentioning deep technical details in your resume (unless jod description ask for it) - you will have plenty of time to mention it in your interview.

      I tell you a little trick to fool programs scanning thousands of resumes for proper keywords. The higher "count" of keywords you have, the better score you've got. To increase your score (and also to improve resume readability for recruiters), add section "Experience" at top of your resume, mentioning just keywords, like:

      Languages: Perl, C/C++, Fortran
      Databases: SQL Server, Oracle, MS Access
      Industry experience: Financial, banking, project management

      If you are really greedy, you may want to add special section "Keywords:" (like if it is intended to computer scanning) and mention the same keywords again.

      Obviously, to research a position for each letter to be able to use proper keywords in you cover letter, you need time.

      I know many of you, fellow monks, want to believe that just email-bombing should do it, that you are increasing your chance to be considered. Do it, if you want (email is for free), but do not forget to research and send at least 5 focused letters every day. And network - about 50% of jobs are not published yet, or maybe person hired was fired after 2-3 months and position might be available again.

      Remember also that company's goal is not to give you a chance, but to find a person able to deliver from day 1. So position should be clearly something you are capable to handle - or very eager to learn, with proven ability to learn quickly. You should build on your strong skills, and it should be obvious from your resume.

      That is why many jobhunters recomment customize for particular position not only cover letters, but also resumes. I know it looks like lot of work - but we already agried that job hunting is full time job, right?

      When you are applying to a position directly in company, it is helpfull to find a way how to bypass HR and contact directly manager. Look for a recommendation from inside. Why? HR weeds resumes out before contacting candidates. Manager needs to fill the position with minimum effort. Also, person recommending you might get a bonus for finding you, so s/he might be willing to describe you. But do not expect outright lying - his/her own credibility is more important than your job. But it was obvious anyway, right?

      Many people do not like the idea that headhunters (recruiters) will get a fee for placing you. Do not worry about it - you are not paying it, company is paying. Make headhunters work for it: Call them about the position, ask questions to help you customize resume and increase your chance to fit. They might know something not published on web or in job ad. But do not try to fool them. Recruiter's goal is exactly like yours: You be hired and survive 3 months - because recruiter's fee is payable only after 3 months after succesfull placement.

      Last advice: If somebody promises to find you job if you pay him upfront, it is not recruiter, but con-artist. Don't pay him.

      To make errors is human. But to make million errors per second, you need a computer.

      Just a quick comment on (6.) . While I agree with you that the economy as a whole is nowhere near a recession I am of the mind, as are others that I have spoken with locally, that we are in the midst of a "high tech recession". I am willing to bet that of people who would call themselves programmers, sysadmins, net admins, etc that the unemployment rate is above 5%. Also, basically, a recession is characterized by negative growth and as the nightly news is quick to remind us, there hasn't been much growth in the tech sector recently. I agree with the rest of the post and hope I haven't been too much a downer >;). My most recent job search took me over three months so I definitly recommend a patient and optimistic attitude. There exists a light at the end of the tunnel.......
Re: Perl Job
by melguin (Pilgrim) on Aug 15, 2001 at 10:21 UTC
    Systems Engineer. We make configuration/monitoring tools for our archiving product, and since our department also does metrics testing and hosts the Egineering website, we use Perl for automating tests, creating a web interface to the results, gathering the results of tests, making a nice interface for other engineers to reserve machines in testing labs, etc, etc, etc.

    If you ever want a position that will bring respect, but give no one a clue as to what exactly you do (even you), the "Systems Engineer" is for you.

    Good luck.


Re: Perl Job
by pmas (Hermit) on Aug 15, 2001 at 17:20 UTC
    It's hard to advise which position you should apply for. Be ready for some soul-searching: where you want to live/work? How job market look like there? What companies are hiring now? What positions? You may be forced to take any position available, if selection is not too wide. Even non-perl job is OK if it pays rent.

    My recommendation will be:
    (1) Try to work for an employment agency for couple of months. Even for free if you can afford that. You will see how headhunters are working from inside, and it will help you in years to come. Look at it as an investment (of your time). I did it (I developed job matching program for one agency).

    Or, (2) try to work for some university around you. Salary is not the best, but you have plenty opportunity to learn. Also, university might be more interested in perl.

    (3) If no interesting jobs are around, and you can afford it, work as a volunteer for non-profit agency: build a slick web-site for them. It will allow you to enhance your skills, put something on your resume, and gather good karma in the process. :)

    Go to library and read books about job hunting. "What color is your parachute" is a classic (in USA). Excellent book. Find your own.
    In any case, post your resume on your web site, and in any relevant job search sites. There are dozens of them. If you want to, I can comment your resume - I read couple hundreds of them...

    Do not become lazy. Job search is your full-time job now. Prepare your resume, then customize it for any position you want to apply. Do not send more than 5-10 applications a day, you will not be able to prepare it, (cover letter always has to be customized - highly customized! Plan also time to follow-up.

    This is rather stressfull period of your life, especially if it is first time you got fired. Do not take it personally - it is nothing wrong with you. Do not become depressed. I know what I am talking about.

    Do a lot of physical excercise. Remember, for last couple of milions of years, stress (danger) always came together with excercise: run away from attacking lion, or attack to defend yourself. Your body craves to go to nearest fitness center to burn all chemicals from your blood, released under stress. If you cannot afford it, run or walk a lot.

    Good luck to you!

    dragonchild beat me! Next time, I need to type faster!

    I disagree with dragonchild's advice Email bomb EVERYONE.
    Email bombing is wrong thing to do, IMHO. Focus your efforts! When you found interesting job, write highly custom cover letter (highlighting you relevant experience, AND change your resume to show how your skills are important/relevant for the job.

    In subject of your email, state job position and job code you want to apply to. Make recruiter's job easy. Make sure that your email stands out from the heap of email bombs.

    Even better, call hiring manager if you can and send email directly to his address, not to HR dept. Why? HR job is to weed out resumes - to reject as many as they can, and they have minutes to browse it. One wrong keyword, too much experience in wrong area - and you are out. That is why you need to focus you cover letter. And call before emailing - then follow up. Prepare for interview. Read books about it - there are plenty of them.
    Do not sound desperate, but find a good reason why you can be enthusiastic and will succeed in the position. Put it in cover letter. They want to hire permanent person.

    The more applications for positions, the more you need to work on your application to stand out from the crowd.

    To make errors is human. But to make million errors per second, you need a computer.

Re: Perl Job
by dondelelcaro (Monk) on Aug 15, 2001 at 15:19 UTC
    Just in case you haven't already seen it, check out Perl Jobs for some jobs involving perl that are currently out there.

    Personally, I use perl quite a bit, but I'm a grad student doing work using perl, php, c, fortran etc. on signal transduction + bioinformatics. (And as you probably know all too well, I'm not well paid. ;-))
      Am I the only one who found this Perl Jobs post a little scary?

      At least it wasn't a security related position...

Re: Perl Job
by dga (Hermit) on Aug 15, 2001 at 20:29 UTC

    What I do.

    I work for a University writing programs in Perl, most of which happen to have a web based user interface. This is subtly different from writing Web Sites. Also, I use Perl for data transforming and analysis etc. Some ot the programs have a Perl/Tk interface and the ones for me have a command line interface and some have a context sensitive user interface.

    In addition, I use PostgreSQL for database and Linux to run the box. My only non open source interaction is with a PC that I run VNCviewer on (i.e. its an X terminal basically)

    In short, jobs where you do 99% open source stuff are out there. Working for a non-corporation does limit the cash inflow slightly but the environment is a lot easier going and much lower stress. (I came from doing Senior System Admin for a corporation).

Re (Further Thoughts): Perl Job
by gaggio (Friar) on Aug 16, 2001 at 06:24 UTC
    Thanks all for your answers and advice. Although this is slightly off topic, I am wondering if I won't apply for some kind of e-working, because working at home can be really cool I think. This might not give me big bucks, but maybe give me a life :-)! More seriously, I believe that projects such as e-work projects are more focused, and probably that by reading their topic I'll know right away whether it is perl-ish or not.
    What do you think?
contracting in perl and programming = be flexible.
by hackmare (Pilgrim) on Aug 20, 2001 at 17:39 UTC

    I'm working as a application developer in a 100% perl shop. This means that I do 50% CGI algprithm massaging, 25% cool perl, and 25% sql troubleshooting. All the programmers are contractors.

    I've been contracting for 3 years, mostly in Europe. I have not had any trouble finding scripting work, but I've had to do mixes of html/perl, php, and cgi/sql to get contracts. I've noticed, however, that over the last 6 months, there's been about 20% downwards pressure on the contracting rate.

    I got all my jobs on jobserve and on Jobserve seems to be the best place, but that's mostly for the European market.

    I seem to tend to get my jobs by highlighting the heavy-duty non-programming capabilities I have as well as by pushing task-specific programming bits. I've found that selling myelf on a case-study basis has worekd pretty well. Fyi, here's the link to my cv page that I've used to land my recent contracts. THe html page(s) are not that impressive but the word documents are fairly well recieved by clients.

    I think you'll have no problem finding new work. You might have to show more flexibility than you used to need to to get the same contract. No matter what, though, if you're bright, flexible, and know perl, there's plenty of work out there. Just give it a bit of time and keep sending the cvs out. And make sure to call the posters to follow up on the email. Contracting houses are staffed by lazy people who don't know how to pick up the phone.

Re: Perl Job
by peschkaj (Pilgrim) on Aug 16, 2001 at 17:10 UTC

    I work for a huge telco as a Systems Engineer. Allegedly, my job duties are maintaining production and development servers that run some massive report generating software.

    Initially, I was nothing more than a UNIX admin and glorified help desk. However, I have used perl scripts to automate server bounces, daily status checks, and about 75 other things that would take upwards of half an hour to do myself. Additionally, I have been asked to develop a perl application or two for some users to help them monitor the databases.

    I never thought that I'd get to hack perl for fun and profit, but hey, stranger things have happened.

Log In?

What's my password?
Create A New User
Node Status?
node history
Node Type: perlmeditation [id://104968]
Approved by root
and all is quiet...

How do I use this? | Other CB clients
Other Users?
Others perusing the Monastery: (4)
As of 2018-01-21 19:18 GMT
Find Nodes?
    Voting Booth?
    How did you see in the new year?

    Results (230 votes). Check out past polls.