I’m taking a break from trying to create books and products and things. Those efforts weren’t going all that well, but the content I produced for it I’m particularly proud of.
The section below is a slightly modified chunk of what was to be “The Technical Recruiter’s Guide to Ruby”. It remains written with a recruiter audience in mind, but if you hire Ruby programmers, almost all the advice and information applies widely.
Enjoy. And let me know of anything you’ve found particularly effective that I’ve neglected to mention.
This chapter is about where developers hang out and then we leap directly into LinkedIn, a place most developers loathe.
They get inundated with recruiter spam (no offense) and nonsensical connection requests all the time, sure, but at this point even they know that LinkedIn is the preeminent place to highlight your resume and look for a job in a passive manner.
And that’s the thing: LinkedIn is made for passive job hunting. You post your details and let it sit there. And every once in a while an interesting job offer inquiry will come across.
This is where you come in, by the way.
It’s a fact of modern internet life that most developers, no matter how begrudgingly, will have a profile there, including Ruby developers.
Can you post job ads? As actual job ads, sure. But don’t go polluting specific groups or the like. Cost? Varies. At the moment, for me, it looks like $195 for a 30-day posting.
The grand poobah of social coding, GitHub is the definition of “where developers hang out.” And that’s especially true of Rubyists. After all, GitHub was built by Rubyists and is still largely built with Ruby.
The tricky thing is that, unlike LinkedIn, GitHub is focused on projects, not people.
This is going to be a bit more laborious than LinkedIn since we’re looking at projects rather than people, but you can click through a bit and find interesting projects and then follow them through both the owner of the project and the contributors.
As mentioned above, one of the big benefits to GitHub is that you can see code. So, you can find out ahead of time if their code skills and style match your client’s expectations.
The other bonus is that a surprising number of GitHub profiles include both location and email address.
Can you post job ads? Not directly, but GitHub does run a very successful job board. Cost? $450 for a 30-day listing.
StackOverflow is the standard place programmers go when they’re stuck. Its Q&A format makes it a repository of answers to almost everything and its ranking system incentivizes developers to provide answers to any questions other developers might have.
The problem with all that cachet, is that, likely knowing just how much developers tend to hate recruiters (again, no offense), the Careers 2.0 site’s searchable candidate database requires a hefty minimum of $1,000/month to use.
If you’re reading this and you run a recruiting service or you work at a large enough company that you’re hiring developers over and over and over again, then that price tag might be a good idea. After all, there are few sites out there that will feature a richer pool of developer talent.
If the price tag is too steep, what you’re left with instead is the ability to narrow the users of SO down by tag … and not much else.
You can pick a tag or search and then see the top users for that tag. For instance, here’s the leaderboard for ruby posts. From there, you can find which users have answered the most questions both in the last 30 days and all time.
And, if you’re hiring remote users and care only about hiring the absolute best, you might find that useful.
There is no good way to limit the lists of users by geography, so if you’re looking for someone local, you’re pretty much reduced to needle in a haystack territory.
What you can do is to basically take their username and then hope they either used their real name or use that same username in lots of other places that are indexed by Google so you can track them down.
Your mileage may obviously vary.
Can you post job ads? In the Careers section, obviously. However, not in the general flow of the site; that’ll get you banned quickly. Cost? For a one-off, $350 for a 30-day listing. They do offer volume discounts, however.
The search on that list will search any location included in the profile, so you can maybe narrow things down.
An important note, though: This site was quite popular in the early days of Rails, but many folks would enter their data once and promptly forget about it.
For instance, my own profile is two jobs out of date.
Don’t trust the site as a primary source of information, but rather as a starting point for further research.
Can you post job ads? Yep. They have a job board that even has recent postings. That said, given the above, it’s not frequently accessed, so there are better avenues to explore - especially since it also requires a Rails focus for postings. The one key benefit: It’s free. Cost? Free
Other job boards
We’ve already mentioned a handful above, but here are a few more in capsule form:
- We Work Remotely: Formerly a job board tied to 37Signals, the creators of Ruby on Rails, We Work Remotely now houses job ads that are solely for remote work. Given the Rubyist pedigree, it remains a good spot - especially if your client is hiring remotely. Cost? $200 for a 30-day ad.
- Authentic Jobs: One of the first independent developer/designer job boards, Authentic Jobs is still going strong. In the past it has had more of a designery bent, but it’s considerably more than that these days. Cost? $249 for a 30-day ad.
- Ruby Now: Ruby Now has an interesting approach - including job ad advice at the premium level and a direct email to an opt-in list (2,500+ according to them) at both levels. Cost? $195-$99 for a 45-day ad.
Mailing lists and forums
Rubyists (and open source software developers in general) are a yackety bunch.
Ruby-forum.com houses archives and mirrors of a slew of mainline Ruby-related mailing lists.
Most individual projects will also have their own mailing lists, so if you’re after knowledge of a specific library, that will likely be a better bet. Most of the time, you’ll find links to these lists on the project’s home page or GitHub repository.
In general, you’re going to find a very low signal-to-noise ratio. Most of the posts to lists are going to be questions from new users to the language/library or very esoteric topics that you’re not going to be that interested in.
What they can be good for, though, is just soaking in the community a bit. After a while, you should have a better grasp of the personalities and problems involved, which can come in handy later.
Can you post job ads? Nope. But you can track down a participant who seems interesting later, either through their name/username or their email address. Bonus: You have their email address.
I’ve singled Ruby Weekly out because it’s a specifically great place to post a job ad.
It’s subscriber list (at the time of this writing) approaches 28,000 Rubyists. There are that many subscribed because it does a fantastic job of highlighting the newest trends, libraries and other things in the Ruby ecosystem.
As such: it gets not just subscribed to, but read. And read by some of the best Rubyists you’ll find.
And with job ads running just $129 a pop, it’s a fantastic deal as well.
This one’s my personal favorite.
Ruby developers love their meetups. And any city of particular size is likely to have their own. So, find them.
Things work better if you’re an active participant in the meetup, and even better if you host or sponsor it. In a pinch, though, you can get by without either.
Here’s what you do:
- Head on over to Meetup.com.
- Plug your search term, preferably fairly broad into the search box.
- Expand the scope out to 100 miles or so.
Here’s the search results for Indianapolis Ruby meetups.
Right off the bat, I now have a list of roughly 450 Ruby developers in the Indy area just from the Indy.rb group. And I know that list of developers includes, by default, people who care enough about the language to at least be interested in meeting like-minded individuals in their free time from time to time.
And once you find a few that look interesting, you can plug that name into Google or your search engine of choice and get a lot more.
I mentioned attending the meet up a bit earlier, and I’d highly recommend that in general. The more plugged in with a community you are, the more people you will know and the more people will be willing to help you when it does become time to hire.
Being absorbed into a community of developers, even if you aren’t one, can help immensely in being able to pick out the good from the bad.
And yes, you might get some funny looks from time to time. But show up, be curious and interested and you’ll be fine.
Who knows, you might pick up a trick or two.
More specific Do’s and Don’ts
A few extra tips about attending meetups as a non-technical person looking to hire:
- Attend regularly (or at least more than once): Before you go slinging job inquiries around, ingratiate yourself with the community. Lurk at least for the first go around. Everyone knows why you’re there, but you’ll need them to kind of know who you are before you can start that type of dialogue.
- Practice standard chit-chat: Related to the above, try to just talk for a while. Ask about what they’re working on, for instance.
- Bribe them: Kind of a no-brainer, but buy the pizza or a round afterward can quicken the process a good bit. Another good route: Donating books around the group’s topic to be given away. Bonus, kinda sneaky addition: Throw your business card in the book.
- Be curious: Most of all, soak in the topics discussed and the environment around the room. Ask questions. Be involved.
Can you post job ads? Nope. That’s not what they’re there for. You can generally sponsor (or have your client sponsor) the food/drinks at meetups, though.
We mentioned meetups a bit earlier, but if there’s one thing Rubyists enjoy more than meetups, it’s conferences.
As you can see at Lanyrd, there are a ton of Ruby-specific conferences scheduled world wide.
The biggest include:
RubyConf: Generally held in the fall, is the primary conference for Rubyists. Its location tends to rotate around the US every year.
The International Ruby Conference – more commonly known as RubyConf – has been the main annual gathering of Rubyists from around the world since 2001. Focused on fostering the Ruby programming language and the robust community that has sprung up around it, RubyConf brings together Rubyists both established and new to discuss emerging ideas, collaborate, and socialize in some of the best locations in the US.
It runs more than 1,300 attendees on average and sells out quickly (typically in hours).
Sponsorship packages are available and run in the 10s of thousands, but there are few better ways to get a major client’s name in front of a ton of Ruby developers.
If that’s too rich for your blood, if you attend the conference you will typically find a big whiteboard board or giant sheet of paper that’s free to post job ads onto.
For instance, below is one of the boards from RailsConf 2012:
The trick with these is to make sure you include your client’s name (if you can) and a contact email address or a short, memorable URL. Throw in a perk or two (or, to use a marketing term, your value proposition) if you have the room. A different, unique (but readable) dry erase marker color might also come in handy.
The reason I suggest your client name rather than a generic “We hire Rubyists” sort of message is that the vast majority of job ads posted on these will be direct hire opportunities - companies send developers and those developers post the job ads themselves. It’s always going to be more effective - but especially in this environment - to mention the client you’re working for.
- RailsConf: Held in the spring (typically April), RailsConf concentrates on Ruby’s preeminent framework. However, the session track will normally cover more mainline Ruby topics of well. For instance, the 2014 program includes a session on specifically building web apps in Ruby without using Rails.
And, as I mentioned above, most Ruby jobs can more properly be described as Rails jobs.
Attendance is typically 1,500+ and like RubyConf, it sells out quickly each and every year.
And if you don’t believe a conference is a smart place to advertise openings, take a look at the lead sponsor for 2014.
- Regional Conferences: Almost any area with a significant environment of Ruby developers is going to have a conference of their own. Just check Lanyrd and find one near you.
Sponsorship and attendance cost will likely be significantly cheaper and you’ll be able to hone in geographically as well.