Written by Chris Walek, Practice Manager of Jobspring Chicago
After studying why Chicago companies are choosing rails, what I'm realizing is that not everything is being considered. Making a decision on the initial technology and tools for building your product is a huge choice, so why not make an educated decision? A lot of companies don't, but then again it is difficult to find full information on this stuff without a consultant like myself.
Rails is GREAT for startups, right? Let’s evaluate: it’s cheap (linux is free and it's open-source), it’s supported (amazing community - especially in Chicago), it has lots of great built-in features within rails like an ORM, and tools/gems like capybara, RSpec, etc. It's also easy to read, so if someone leaves your company, someone else can pick up right where the former employee left off, and a lot can be done in small, agile teams with full-stack engineers. While these are all great reasons, companies often forget to consider what it’s like to hire for ruby.
Hire top tech talent in Chicago today.
Rather than just choosing the best tool for the job programming-wise, companies need to consider the culture and market for hiring that comes with that decision. Ruby on rails is by the far the biggest technology written remotely. When a company chooses ruby on rails, they must also choose to operate a virtual environment and let people work remotely. If not, in the world of hiring on-site, full-time rails employees, you will probably lose to the Bigs who offer personal chefs and unbeatable benefits (oh, and $150-200k). That's the other thing about hiring for ruby that people tend to forget - it's a free market; there are a lot of choices. The people that choose ruby go through the hurdles of learning a new language (ruby isn't easy to pick up) and they do so for one reason; supply and demand. When the supply is low and demand is high, price goes up. Just think about how many new training programs for ruby and mobile (iOS/Android) there are. None of these programs teach you C# or Python, so that should say something. Ruby engineers are very expensive, so while it may look cheap, it's not.
You will also need to hire me to find the talent you need, so that's another cost. Not to mention, turnover is 1.5 years in the market, so you need to use me over and over again (yes, I have a ton of tips on how to keep your employees there and my clients do this very well, however that's another article). Ruby engineers already have jobs. They're looking (passively), but they have a job and don't need to leave for something slightly better. What actually happens is that they assess things they dislike about their current environment and convince themselves to take a few interviews and find an improvement on these non-tangibles (culture, commitment to quality software, commitment to best practices, growth within an organization). While money isn't the initial catalyst for them to look, it will be for them to leave. It’s something almost everyone can wrap their head around: You’re comfortable in your seat but a new company wants you. They add an extra $5-10k to your salary. Is that $5-10k really worth the hassle of putting in your 2 weeks, dealing with upset boss/colleagues, doing a huge knowledge transfer, then getting sped up in a new environment, etc.? Most people would say no (plus after taxes, that extra bit isn't a new Ferrari by any means). While money isn't a driving force behind why a lot of people stay at their jobs, or what most people complain about, it IS the catalyst for getting them out of their current, comfy seat and going through the hassle of changing a job. It will also buffer against them getting headhunted easily in the future, and against counter-offers.
These are just some facts about the current market. But every engineer knows things can and will change. The best are diversifying their skillsets to be in demand when the next wave comes along—perhaps functional languages? Only time will tell.
(Sources): I work for a nationwide technology recruiting firm which has individual offices in every major city (pending Dallas and Austin, but that should change) and have studied the consistency of these facts. Chicago, by far, does the most ruby on rails placements and thus sees the most transactional data on it.