I'm an atypical employer, but I'm an employer nonetheless: A few weeks back I posted on Craigslist for a Ruby consulting gig in NYC. This is the second time I've done this, and what strikes me is that the vast majority of emails I got were entirely worthless.
Beyond the spam resumes--literally, I got some emails from people claiming to be the perfect candidate for my investment bank, even though I actually work at an arts-non-profit--I got a lot of half-hearted, cover-your-ass type resumes that didn't give me any passion at all about the job.
If you want to get paid to write Ruby, you should understand that Ruby is not now, and it may never be, the mainstream. That's okay, statistically speaking, because there are millions of jobs in computing, and you only need one of them. But because of that minority position, you will be aiming for minority hirers.
People looking to hire in Ruby are much more likely to be risk-takers themselves. Where some managers are only trying to not get fired, the people hiring for Ruby jobs are more likely to be playing to win. And they are likely to respect and trust other people with similar attitudes. This is what I've looked for when I've scanned the applicants I've received, and it's served me well so far.
So, specifically: Don't be afraid to be passionate in your opinions, as long as you don't go so far as to be dogmatic about them. The middle manager hiring the 120th Java employee at his investment bank probably doesn't care about your opinions, but the founder of a four-person firm which uses Ruby does. He understands that if you use Ruby you enter an area where lots of change is happening all the time, and he will not care as much about your certifications as your sensibilities--because as the landscape changes in six months, it's your sensibilities that will help make decisions.
Of course, opinions should be founded on experience, and if you don't have a Ruby job, it's hard to get Ruby experience. So you should go out and get it on your own. User groups are one way to do this, free software projects are, too. Pick a pet project--by yourself or with others--and start building. If that's a web programming project, fine, but it doesn't have to be. It should be something you are excited about, though. So that when you get a job interview for a Ruby job, and your prospective employer asks you about your Ruby experience, you can say "Well we don't use Ruby at my current job, but in my spare time I've been doing such-and-such-a-program with Ruby, and trying out such-and-such-a-framework and it mostly helps, though it lacks such-and-such-a-feature but maybe that'll be taken care of when the next version comes out, which is supposed to be in about three months." That answer will come quite naturally if you've been engaged in a project you care about, as opposed to something you simply treat as homework.
Basically: Ruby employers want somebody who is not just experienced, but passionate as well. So figure out what exactly about Ruby makes you passionate, find a concrete way to turn that passion into experience, and go out and sell that passion and experience to somebody. Eventually, some employer will give you a chance.
On Mar 25, 2005, at 8:54 PM, Phil Tomson wrote:
It's interesting to see all of the 'a' answers to the first question of
the poll today (meaning that they are using Ruby all the time in their
work). This seems to be a marked change in the Ruby community since a
year ago when the 'a' answer would have been much rarer.
Can some of the folks who use Ruby 'all the time' at work offer advice on
how to find Ruby work/contracts? I suspect 'Learn Rails' would top the
list - but what about other areas besides web programming - is Ruby making
more inroads in those areas as well?
How about those of us who have not done any web programming in the past,
but know Ruby - do we have an edge for the web programming (Rails) jobs
as well, or is it better to have done web programming and no Ruby than
the other way around? Just curious. I'm considering learning SQL and
Rails and trying to get into web programming field so I can get paid to
do Ruby programming again, but I've never done any web programming
before (one of the last holdouts, I guess).