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Andy Leverenz

May 22, 2024


Last updated May 23, 2024

How to 10x your chances of getting a Ruby on Rails job

Are you tired of applying for Ruby on Rails jobs without getting any traction? Are you a newbie who wants a foot in the door? I feel you! It's tough out there, but I'm here to share some insider tips that have proven to be effective, potentially 10x-ing your chances of landing your dream job Ruby on Rails job.

The market is awful at the moment.

First, let's take a crash course in economics to understand why getting a job today is much harder than just a couple of years ago.

At the time of writing, the job market is crap for tech-focused roles. There have been a series of layoffs at several companies that signal signs of market disruption.

The Federal Reserve in the USA has increased interest rates, so borrowing money is becoming increasingly costly globally. Without borrowed capital, businesses can’t grow as fast as they like, and some will need to downsize or sadly go out of business due to overhiring when times were better just a couple of years ago.

For some wild reason, this is intentional because (at least in the United States) the government manipulates our money supply. This causes booms, busts, inflation, and bubbles. The only tool they have to combat this issue is increasing borrowing costs so people and businesses start borrowing less.

Great lesson, Andy. What the hell does this have to do with Ruby on Rails jobs?

I say all this because, at the end of the day, this affects the workforce. The government wants to see unemployment rise right now, which, while crazy, helps keep their manipulation of the dollar under wraps so it doesn’t get too far out of hand (some would argue it already has). So, if you’re struggling to find work, this is the biggest reason.

Let’s move on to what you can do about it.

You can do several unconventional and conventional things to 10x your chances of getting a Ruby on Rails job today.

1. Build a personal project that wows

Imagine having a project that showcases your skills and creativity—something that makes potential employers go, "Wow, this person is on fire!" Share a personal project demonstrating your expertise on GitHub or a personal website. Find a way to create value for others, and trust me, it's a game-changer in getting a foot in the door.

2. Write to share your knowledge

Do you know what sets you apart from others? Your unique perspective and experiences! Share your knowledge by writing a blog about Ruby on Rails and showcase your writing skills. It's a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader in the community. I did this very thing, and while it took several years to grow, it has opened too many doors to count. No one will notice you if you don’t put yourself out there.

3. Participate in Hackathons and Coding Challenges

Join online events like Hacktoberfest or CodeWars and show off your coding skills. Not only will you learn new things, but you'll also demonstrate your ability to work under pressure. Employers love that!

4. Contribute to open-source projects in unconventional ways

Don't just code! Contribute to open-source projects in other ways, like creating artwork, writing documentation, or helping with community management. It shows that you're a team player willing to help in non-coding ways. Of course, you can contribute via code as well. The key is to have the clout to show off to a future employer to show you’re already demonstrating a need they are looking to fill.

5. Develop a Unique Skillset Combination

Combine Ruby on Rails with design, DevOps, or data science skills. It makes you a more valuable asset to potential employers and sets you apart from others. I’m currently doing this with Rails UI. It’s a combination of high-quality design paired with Ruby on Rails. The goal is to empower non-design-savvy developers and teams with design tools to get ideas off the ground even faster than before.

6. Create a GitHub Repository of Coding Experiments

Create a GitHub repository of your coding experiments to showcase your curiosity and willingness to try new things. It's a great way to demonstrate your problem-solving skills and creativity. It also allows you to learn and share your work as portfolio pieces with future employer prospects.

7. Write a Book or eBook

Share your knowledge and experiences in a comprehensive guide. It establishes you as an expert in the field and shows you're willing to go the extra mile. You can even earn a little money from the venture.

8. Create a Podcast or Interview Series

This one takes consistency and grit, but I’m sure it’ll be worthwhile over time. Interview other developers, industry experts, or thought leaders and share their insights and perspectives. It's a great way to build your network and demonstrate your communication skills. I’m considering starting a podcast myself, but I haven’t entirely pulled the plug due to time and other commitments.

9. Be Authentic and Passionate

Above all, be yourself and show your passion for Ruby on Rails. Employers can spot a fake from a mile away, so be authentic and let your enthusiasm shine through.

10. Optimize your resume

This one is a bit of a hack, but I’ve found the “fake it till you make it” valuable strategy at certain times.

For the new Rails developers

Suppose you fit the criteria of a Junior Developer, and you lack the experience to add to a resume. Consider adding open-source contributions, side projects, experiments, and more on your resume to show you’re competent. This is in addition to past employers. If you are brand spanking new with no employer history, consider contacting an employer you admire about internships. Sometimes, they are paid, which is a perk. If you don’t see one listed, reach out anyway to anyone who gives you the time of day.

For experienced Rails developers

If you have been in the Rails space for many moons, I suggest tweaking your resume to suggest you haven’t. I know this sounds contradictory, but sadly, employers judge us based on age range. If you’re a little over the hill, you’re capable. The problem there lies in being a good culture and personality fit.

What does this look like? Suppose you have 12 years of experience as a Rails developer. The last role you were in was over 5 years in length. Maybe adjust the number of employers you list on your resume to only a couple and don’t mention having over, say, 8 years of experience. Employers might immediately discount you without talking to you directly based on your resume alone. It’s sad.

You could likely entertain countless other ideas to 10x your way into your next Ruby on Rails role. I hope some of these gave you new ideas to try and help you feel empowered to find something you’ll love.

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