Having been searching for a new job lately, I've read a number of advices to job seekers and hiring managers. Perhaps, they're just parroting each other, but here are some quotes that sound surprisingly similar:
Passion. We look for evidence that the applicant is passionate about computers and really loves programming. Typical evidence of this: <...>
- Extra-curricular activities. People who love programming often work on their own programming projects (or contribute to an open-source project) in their spare time.
Joel Spolsky, Sorting Resumes blog post
When I'm hiring, I'm attracted to open source projects for one reason above all others: it shows a degree of passion. It shows that you're really not just a "clock out and forget about computing until you come in the next day" kind of guy.
Jon Skeet, 2nd comment to a "Coding horror" blog entry
3. Although this is not a universal truth, open source developers are very passionate about what they do. They have to be, otherwise why would they do it? If you hire an open source developer that has a passion for their work on open source projects, it might very well spill over into the work they do for you. Now I understand that many developers are passionate about their work (I've read Microserfs ;-) ), but passion in the open source community runs a bit hotter than it does in the non-open source communities.
Jack Wallen, "Five reasons why your company should hire open source developers" article
The problem with open source contributions is that they don’t necessarily tell a recruiter what they need to know about you. They indicate passion and enthusiasm for programming, which is a plus, but they don’t necessarily indicate competence <...>
James McKay, "Some thoughts on the role of open source experience in recruitment" blog post
And if that's not enough, keep in mind that most programmers who work on open source projects do so because they love writing software and they're passionate about their work.
Brian W. Fitzpatrick, The Virtual Referral: Mitigating Risk by Hiring Open Source Developers article
If we advance a bit, the general idea is that you should participate in an open-source development, or you're not a real man! You're not passionate! You... may not even love programming at all, you, corporate clerk?
The concept reminded me of something similar. Isn't it like suggesting that every worthy man must have a mistress as well as a wife? Which is, of course, bogus, even if one stops at the wife part, but a programmer is supposed to cheat on their job.
So why these seasoned managers, who just have to be mostly serious in their hiring-related statements, claim something that looks completely out of touch? I can't question their proficiency and experience, hence the conclusion is simple.
Most programming jobs suck.
With all the stuff heard and adopted--that programmers are lucky to have a profession that is, at the same time, fun--the reality doesn't seem to look as a fairy tale. Programming jobs suck hard and often, and you're more likely to demonstrate passion by participating in side-projects, than by doing well at work.
My job is not of the best, but I still want to go there each morning, and my eyes still burn, even after two years of marriage... Of course, sometimes we had difficulties, but we've eventually made up with each other. And the occasional urge to do something different is well satisfied by flirting with small projects, like writing this website, or participating in GSoC.