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I just received a few invites that I can send to people I know, which is a nice thing. But it got me thinking, why would I want to?

Think about it. If I were to invite someone then I will have more competition for a job role, assuming they have the same skills of course. It just doesn't really make much sense to invite potential competition, perhaps I'm missing something?

I understand that Careers is currently invite only or sign-up through Stack Overflow. I guess the idea is to ensure that only legit programmers can sign up. Any opinions on this? Am I completely missing the point?

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    Maybe they don't have exactly the same skills and experience that you do. Or maybe you already have a secure job and just want to help a friend or colleague out. – Bill the Lizard Jul 15 '15 at 13:15
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    Maybe you have a job, but your friend just lost his. Wouldn't you like to help your friend? No? Animal. – Won't Jul 15 '15 at 16:46
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You're correct that the reason we have invites is so that we only have legitimate programmers on the site.

As for why you should, you've already answered this question in your first line - it's "a nice thing". You invite other people to join Careers because you want to help them get a better job. This is a nice thing to do to help your fellow programmers.

It's the same reason a lot of people post answers on Stack Overflow - because they want to help.

I see you yourself have answered some 161 questions on Stack Overflow. Using your own logic, you have given away valuable knowledge that might help other programmers proceed in their own careers! What if they were completely identical to you apart from that one piece of information - now if you're both applying for the same job, you've thrown away that one tiny advantage!

Fortunately, helping people out makes you a stronger candidate for jobs, not a weaker one. You can really improve your profile by spending time helping out your fellow programmers any way you can - through answering Stack Overflow questions, building open source etc. If you invite someone to Careers and they land a great job, who knows how they might repay the favour?

Be nice to people, help others out and the rewards will follow.

This is a far better strategy than trying to keep Stack Overflow Careers a secret.

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If I were to invite someone then I will have more competition for a job role, assuming they have the same skills of course.

At some level, yes—you are correct. More people does mean more competition. Yet the more people who use Careers, also the more opportunity will become available because more companies will use Careers as well.

It's rare that everyone has the same skill sets, knowledge, experience, and are available all at the same time. Tech employment is around 97-98%, which basically means anyone who develops has a job somewhere. For some people Careers is about finding a job right now. They're actively looking.

For a lot of people though it's about finding a better job. Most developers have a job already and are passively looking for a better opportunity. As more developers use Careers, companies will use Careers more to find developers. And companies which use Careers must abide by our rules, which serve programmers. To quote Joel Spolsky:

That’s why we built Stack Overflow Careers. This was the first site that was built for developers, not recruiters. We banned the scourge of contingency recruiters (even if they have big bank accounts and are just LINING UP at the Zion Gate trying to get into our city to feed on programmer meat, but, to hell with them). We are SERVING PROGRAMMERS, not spammers.

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