Software Engineers, Developers In Demand in Chicago

 
 
By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2010-10-18
 
 
 

Whether you buy in to the skills shortage in technology, there are some real economic forces at play that are limiting many people's ability to easily pick up and move to a new location. How easy it to sell a house right now and move to a new city? Not very.

Chicago may be one of the largest cities in the United States, but when it comes to software engineers and Web developers, the city becomes a much smaller place, points out a recent article in The Chicago Tribune.

Getting a product to market is very much tied to the length of time high-demand employees are hired. Consultants and contractors can help, but when you are trying to keep your intellectual property close to the vest and expand a product portfolio version by version, many companies want to build from the inside--and that means hiring talented technology professionals yesterday.

One Web-based company in the Chicago area, Groupon, needed 18 months to hire 30 technologists, according to the Tribune, yet hired the same number of employees in Silicon Valley in a mere matter of months. Location appears to matter. Groupon is still in need of developers, especially those with Ruby on Rails experience.

While Groupon looks for experienced developers, it also will consider those who are "young and smart and eager to learn," Mason [Groupon founder and CEO Andrew Mason] said. "We're looking for smart, passionate, well-rounded people."

Like many Chicago tech firms, Groupon codes its software using Ruby on Rails, but knowing the software isn't a requirement. "If you're a great engineer, you can learn the language," Mason said.

The growing use of Ruby on Rails, a Web application framework, in recent years has created developer shortages everywhere, said Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson, a partner at Chicago-based 37signals. Many developers who were trained in Java or PHP simply need to be retrained, he said.

"The best advice I can give to developers who are out of a job is to spend the time to learn modern development environments like Ruby on Rails," Hansson wrote in an e-mail. "It might take some months to get up to speed, but then there are plenty of jobs available."

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