I have a probably unusual habit: I'm applying for jobs as programmer at least once a year. It 's not that I don't have a job, or that I don't like what I do, but since I am self employed and running my own company
I have the feeling that I am coming out of touch of what the current job market is like, and so I started to apply for jobs at different companies once in a while. Just to keep in mind how this is like and for the fun of it.
I think this is also a good training should I need to be employed again in the near future: As 'CEO' of your own company, you tend to become a bit arrogant and tend to get an exaggerated opinion of yourself. Doing job interviews helps you to keep down to reality a bit.
So about once in a year I pick an advertised programmers job at a company I like, and in most cases, they invite me to the job interview. Because I'm not actually looking for a job, this sounds maybe like I'm wasting the time of that company, but actually, I usually tell them that I'm currently not looking urgently for a job. Additionally, who knows, maybe the job is surprisingly nice and interesting, and maybe the payment is as well, so if they want me, I maybe still would consider working for them.
Until now, I did quite a few job interviews like that, and most of them were quite interesting. I talked with a lot of interesting people, learned new views, got constructive reviews of my skills and personality, and even built some business relationships in this way.
I'm not sure if this is just me, but I think experienced software engineers don't play along with this. If a recruiter seriously asks me for a clearance certificate by the police for a job as website back-end programmer, then I won't apply for the job. If you want me to program a puzzle test for several hours just to apply for your company's crappy underpaid job, then no, sorry. If you want me to fill out your custom online application web form with about 50 fields where half of the comboBoxes don't contain the values which would be correct for me, then I simply apply for a job at a different company.
These companies don't notice that in this way, the good people a driven away, and only the desperate will apply. So I pity those poor programmers who get treated this way today and I am currently quite happy that I'm not looking for a job under these circumstances.
David T. Macknet