If you’re an experienced Ruby on Rails Developer looking for a new job, choosing the right employer can be a big challenge. There are many RoR companies out there looking for developers, but few of them work on interesting projects, have a great internal culture and provide a good salary. Most of the time, you need to live without one or two of these aspects to enjoy the one that matters the most to you. And sometimes, you don’t know what you’re getting into ahead of time. To help you solve this problem, here are our tips on recognizing the best employer for you.

1. Read the company’s blog

A blog is curated content created for a purpose, yes, but it can still tell you a lot about your future employer’s internal culture, organizational structure, tech stack, processes, values and preferred methodologies. It might be a good idea to pay attention to how the team solves problems, what technologies they prefer and why, as well as how they approach experimenting and making mistakes. Are they strict about following the beaten path, or do they take advantage of new solutions? Alignment between you and the company you work at in this respect can be extremely important.

2. Take a good look at you potential employer’s portfolio

Are the projects you see there the kind you’d enjoy working on? While many companies are very open to taking on projects from various industries and based on a range of technologies, a certain level of specialization is likely to occur. Pay attention to your future employer’s marketing materials, and don’t forget to ask an HR representative about NDA-restricted portfolio entries. Many companies can’t share some of their best projects in their portfolio because of legal agreements. So, when you look at a solid sample of a company’s work, do they seem to be targeting, say, the fintech market in particular? If so, that’s a good indication that you’ll work on that type of project if you take the job they’re offering. Make sure that you’re okay with that, and pay attention to the requirements in each job offer, as they often contain information about the project you’ll end up working on.

Also, look at the technological complexity of each project, particularly if you like challenging work and want to have the opportunity to develop new skills. If the company you’re considering focuses on building simple websites, and your main interest is Big Data, working with them might not be a good idea.

It’s a good practice to take a close look at the business goals your potential employer has achieved for their clients. For example, one of iRonin’s projects came with the challenge of building solid integrations with many different applicant tracking systems. Another project was focused on cutting down infrastructure costs (by $84k per year) and improving performance. Several projects with very different (and ambitious) goals suggest that the company’s development team has the breadth and depth of experience you’re looking for.

3. Consider remote work opportunities

Remote work is great - it means more time for other matters (e.g. your family or pet), flexibility, freedom to travel (you can add working from a beach in Bali to your bucket list) and unprecedented levels of comfort (working from your couch, wrapped in a soft blanket, when you feel a little under the weather). And even if working from home or a cafe doesn’t sound like a dream come true to you (it’s okay, many people share that outlook), an otherwise great job that’s primarily remote can still work out well for you. Coworking spaces are one option, and if you live in a bigger city, you might be able to rally your coworkers to find a common working space. Some remote-first companies are open to feedback on this issue and open offices when there’s need. iRonin has done so in Rzeszów, and we’re looking into locations in Wrocław and Warsaw.

4. Attend Ruby on Rails events

The best way to get to know people is to talk to them face to face. This is why attending events, particularly local ones, can be a big help in gauging whether your potential future employer will be a good fit for you. You can ask questions about the things that matter the most to you, judge the level of expertise presented by the team members, and find out how passionate they are about their work. If they’re truly enthusiastic about something they engage with on a daily basis, it’s a good indication that the atmosphere at work helps them maintain this level of motivation. Here are some of our event recommendations: Wroclove, RRUG in Rzeszów, grill.rb in Wrocław, and 4Developers. If you attend, you’re likely to encounter iRonin’s team!

5. Reach out to the people who work there

It’s often a good idea to interact with potential future coworkers on social media, or to engage the company directly. You can also use the chat on their website, comment on their blog, or message them on LinkedIn. HR specialists tend to be available almost 24/7! Chat with them about technologies and trends, ask or answer questions, and find out whether the people on the other end seem like they’d be fun to be around every day. Also, you can use social media to learn more about the depth of their expertise and their technological stack - just keep in mind that the person behind the company’s Twitter handle may not be a developer, so don’t judge them too harshly.

6. Find out if they offer growth support

Many companies know how important it is to invest in their team members, both to expand the team’s collective knowledge and to improve job satisfaction. Does your future employer support their team’s participation in technology-related events? Are they happy to send their experts to conferences as speakers? Check their social media and blog for mentions of this, as it’s a good indication of how much agency the company’s employees have in shaping their careers.

Another thing to look out for is the senior to junior ratio among the company’s developers. For example, iRonin’s team counts many experienced senior devs, which allows them to share knowledge among themselves and help junior and regular developers gain new knowledge and grow professionally. You might also want to find out whether the company has internal projects you could work on, as these often allow for more experimentation and are a safer environment for learning. Additionally, the option to switch projects after some time can be a great opportunity to learn new things while maintaining job satisfaction. The most employee-friendly companies out there allow this - and so does iRonin.

7. Check out your future employer’s tech stack

Don’t worry if your skill set doesn’t align with it perfectly - that’s not the point at this stage. What you want to do is to make sure that you will be given room for growth and career development. Is your potential employer interested in new technologies, or sticking to older solutions? Do they offer full-stack development? Is their technological stack flexible enough to be useful in different types of projects? Perhaps you’ve been planning to learn a certain technology, and your potential employer has included it in their offer. Great! That means you’ll have people to learn from and plenty of opportunities to see the solution at work.

8. Look for DevOps or SRE services in their offer

Even if you’re not particularly interested in the operations and maintenance aspects of software development, working closely with DevOps experts can give you a lot of useful know-how. It’s not just about solving infrastructure or efficiency problems. You’ll learn how to communicate effectively with people who don’t share your skillset, and you’ll have the opportunity to expand your horizons beyond your usual way of thinking. SRE is a slightly more modern approach to collaboration between teams, and it works very well for companies juggling multiple software projects.

9. Verify their development process

Processes and procedures may sound like the boring part of software development, but a solid set of agreed upon practices shared by a company can be extremely helpful in keeping deadlines, solving problems and exceeding clients’ expectations. You want your future employer to set clear goals for you, to give you tools for effective communication and collaboration, and to have processes in place that guarantee the high quality of their services. Not only will this make your days at work more pleasant and structured, you’ll also learn useful know-how that will help you become a true expert in your field. A good development process includes elements such as code review, proper testing, as well as design patterns and good coding standards.

10. Consider their culture and values

It might sound vague, but company culture and values are extremely important factors affecting job satisfaction. Learn as much as you can about your potential employer and their approach to their work. Do they focus on delivering services of the highest quality? Are their employees encouraged or even expected to actively expand their knowledge? What about flexible hours or communication practices? Does the company organize team events or support charities? Make sure that you agree with what they believe in. If you do, you’ll be able to truly enjoy cooperating with your team.

These are some of the most important factors that should affect your decision on whether or not you want to work at a given company. If online research doesn’t yield the answers you seek, remember that you can simply talk to your potential employer. That way, you’ll be able to ask specific questions and clear up any doubts you might have.

Interested in work at iRonin? We’re a remote-first company that emphasized technical excellence and focuses on only the most exciting projects.