Joel Spolsky writes:
The top 0.5% usually have jobs. They have jobs where they do very well, so their employers pay them lots of money and do whatever it takes to keep them happy. (I know. Oversimplification. Lots of employers try to drive out the good software developers because they complain a lot and demand high salaries. Still.)
Those 200 resumes you got from Craigslist? Those consist of the one guy who happened to be good, but he’s only applying for a job because his wife wants to be nearer to her family, and the usual floating population of 199 people who apply for every single job and are qualified for none. And now you think you’re being “super selective” but you’re not, it’s just a statistical fallacy.
I’m exaggerating a lot, but the point is, when you select 1 out of 200 applicants, the other 199 don’t give up and go into plumbing (although I wish they would… plumbers are impossible to find). They apply again somewhere else, and contribute to some other employer’s self-delusions about how selective they are.
In fact, one thing I have noticed is that the people who I consider to be good software developers barely ever apply for jobs at all. I know lots of great people who took a summer internship on a whim and then got permanent offers. They only ever applied for one or two jobs in their lives.
It’s because of this phenomenonthe fact that many of the great people are never on the job marketthat we are so aggressive about hiring summer interns. This may be the last time these kids ever show up on the open market.