Ruby on Rails Developer – Profile of an Ideal Candidate

Ruby on Rails is a great choice for launching web startups. There are lots of examples of successful startups running on Ruby on Rails, and there are also lots of startup founders who use Ruby on Rails to create prototypes of their startup ideas.

This post is for people who do not have past experience with hiring Ruby on Rails developers, and thus it is built on the assumption that hiring junior developers is simply not an option (simply because there will be no one in your organization to train a junior developer).

Ruby on Rails’ popularity makes hiring developers tough. You will receive plenty of CVs, but selecting a good candidate from this list will not be easy. The logic behind it is quite simple: good Ruby on Rails developers are rarely seeking a new position, and those who are seeking a new position are not always good.

There’s no magic formula for hiring. Finding a good Ruby on Rails developer is time-consuming and takes a lot of effort. In this post, I will provide some tips to help you narrow down an ideal candidate and eventually make a great hire.

Here are some of the most important factors you will need to consider:

  1. Years in software development/years of experience with Ruby on RailsIt’s quite obvious that experience makes a difference. The more general software development experience a candidate has, the better. Yet this is not necessarily the case when it comes to Ruby on Rails. Two to three years of development experience will be enough in most of the cases; hiring someone with more experience probably won’t be cost-effective.
  2. PersonalityIt’s really important to make sure your new hire fits into your corporate culture. It’s a basis for long-term employment and a factor increasing developer’s productivity. In many cases, it makes more sense to hire someone with less experience, if this person better fits your corporate culture and has better attitude.
  3. Communication skillsYour first Ruby on Rails developer must have strong communication skills: visual, verbal, and written. Test it by mixing up communication before making a hiring decision: use email to test writing skills; call your preselected candidates to assess their verbal communication, and try to evaluate visual communication skills during an interview. Poor communication skills will have a negative effect on productivity, both that of a developer and yours.
  4. Formal CS educationA computer science degree is a “nice-have,” but you will be limiting your options if you put this requirement in your job description. There are plenty of good self-made Ruby on Rails developers without a CS degree. Test applicants for analytical skills instead.
  5. Other skillsBuilding applications with Ruby on Rails requires other skills too. Knowledge of JavaScript/jQuery, SQL, HTML, CSS, Bootstrap or Foundation, MySQL, and familiarity with Unix environment are an absolute minimum.
  6. A sample of codeAsk your preselected candidates to submit a sample of code. Then hire a 5-star Ruby on Rails developer on oDesk or Elance (find someone with previous hiring or team management experience) and ask this person to evaluate the code submitted by your applicants by assigning a grade to each sample.
  7. Your budgetHiring locally can be costly. Depending on where you’re based, the salary of a professional Ruby on Rails developer can start anywhere between $80K and $120K. And if you want to hire part-time, you will need to get ready to pay at least $80/hour to a decent developer. It’s obvious that more experienced developers will cost more, so you will need to find a balance between what you need and what you can afford to pay.

However, hiring a Ruby on Rails developer locally is not your only option. Sometimes it just makes more sense to outsource your project to a professional agency or look for a developer overseas. We can assist you in both cases.