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One would think that with a global slow down, PHP developers, and other language developers, would be struggling to find work. However, the reverse seems to be true, and as companies vie for good developers there is an opportunity for a new renaissance for the recruiting agencies. But do we need them? And, do we want them?

Just prior to the global slowdown that is gripping the world, job vacancies in all manner of industries have been hard to fill, and it has been good business for recruiting agencies who can earn good fees by finding a person to fill a vacancy, only to have them call in a few weeks time to offer them another placement, and thus gain another finders fee.

An emerging trend now, is for agencies to pre-interview programmers before sending giving them access to the database of available jobs. These case handlers have little, or no knowledge of programming yet feel they can sort the chaff from the hay as they hold the jobs list as ransom should they not comply. How has this process emerged? How is it, that the simple task of employing a programmer has taken on these seedy letches?

In small development companies, it is customary for the owner to interview a prospective employee, and would be accompanied by the senior developer. A bit a social banter followed by some technical questions would see you either employed or, a polite call informing you that your application was unsuccessful.

In larger companies, this task is handed off to the Human Resources department for them to vet prospective candidates and shortlist those who fill the criteria best. The shortlisted applicants would be interviewed and decision made based on that experience. It is exactly this process that the recruiting agencies are targeting now with venom.

A company placing a job advertisement on-line, or in print media, can now expect a dozen calls from agencies all contending for a finders fee, who promised to find the right candidate for the position and the company. And what accreditation do these recruiters have in Human Resources and programming? None! Yet they have managed to drive a wedge firmly between employees and those seeking work, thus severing the initial contact between employer and employee.

As these circumstances are becoming a hindrance to job seekers and job advertisers alike, some companies are taking matters into their own hands by actively creating networks which keep programmers within the community close at hand, and when a position arises, there is a pool to draw on.

An initiative by the Ibuildings company to build a "PHP Center of Expertise" (yes they are looking for a cool name for it), seems to be a good step in the right direction to attract developers to them, rather than actively running the gauntlet of recruiting agencies. Of course, there are already many PHP communities of various sizes that companies, and recruiting agencies, like to consider their own pool of prospects and may see the emergence of such corporate driven communities as a threat to their tenure.

Most PHP communities are based around applications. Zend have their own developers, and being the "home of PHP" they rival all in size. But many more communities are based around applications such as frameworks, CMS systems, etc. These communities are just the full of prospective developers whose could be lured in by corporates.

With job hunting becoming more work than the actual job itself, the move by these corporations to build communities can only be seen as a positive step forward in pooling resources and for the developers to find their way into such corporations without having to jump through the hoops of some self appointed man-in-the-middle