I have listed Ruby as a skill on my resume becuase I've been programming in Ruby for 5 years while I work on my Ph.D. thesis. I've mostly been using it to implement natural language processing algorithms.

I'm starting to look for a job, and I posted my resume to a few sites (as an extra bonus when applying to certain on-target jobs). Now I get recruiters calling me to offer me Ruby on Rails jobs. The problem is that I've never learned Rails. It was never relevant to what I'm doing for my Ph.D.

How do you recommend handling this situation to avoid wasting my time and theirs? (And learning Rails probably isn't an option until I finish my thesis.) Can my resume be adjusted to make this clearer? Should it be adjusted? Should I just politely tell them on the phone that I don't know Rails?

By the way, the relevant part of my resume simply says:


Programming Languages: C, C++, Java, Scala, Ruby, LaTeX

Databases: MySQL, XML, XPath

and lists a few other skill areas that couldn't possibly be confused with a Rails developer.

closed as off-topic by gnat, user40980, GlenH7, Robert Harvey, World Engineer Apr 12 '14 at 17:18

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions seeking career or education advice are off topic here. They are only meaningful to the asker and do not generate lasting value for the broader community. Furthermore, in most cases, any answer is going to be a subjective opinion that may not take into account all the nuances of a (your) particular circumstance." – gnat, Community, GlenH7, Robert Harvey, World Engineer
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 11
    +1 for bringing up a problem that will be faced by anyone with Ruby on his or her resume. This is a very common phenomenon. – Adam Crossland Jan 14 '11 at 16:10
  • 25
    XML counts as a database now? – Tarka Jan 14 '11 at 16:12
  • 2
    Don't take it personally, recruiters are playing a numbers game. They get paid for successful matches, so the job market is like an intellectual meat market. If you match their search they will offer the job. That's all they can do. – Berin Loritsch Jan 14 '11 at 16:16
  • 6
    @Ken Bloom: Languages would do in a pinch, but I usually add a third category for "Technologies" that aren't really languages or databases. Frameworks and things like XML typically land in there for me. – Adam Lear Jan 14 '11 at 16:28
  • 4
    @Slokun, XML is a perfect example of a semistructured database. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi-structured_model – Malfist Jan 14 '11 at 16:50

This is a good question.

I would leave your resume alone. It's good to filter out languages you are not comfortable working with, but do not filter out frameworks. You don't know what version of your resume will be sitting on someone's desk when they become interested in you. By the time they see it, you might be a well-versed Rails developer.

With that, I would much rather have a dozen calls about Rails opportunities just to have one turn out to be plain Ruby. Recruiters tend to think ruby == rails so don't confuse them.

  • 1
    So, then I suppose I should be asking the recruiter a couple of quick questions to verify whether the job is a web development job (presumably requiring Rails) versus some other job (where the recruiter has confused Ruby with Rails)? – Ken Bloom Jan 14 '11 at 16:19
  • 3
    @Ken: Yes. A lot of recruiters are calling you based on a set of vague (to us) criteria. I like it when I am able to control how opportunities are filtered instead of someone else deciding for me. – Jeremy Heiler Jan 14 '11 at 16:20
  • 2
    +1 for leaving an opening for the plain Ruby opportunity – Larry Coleman Jan 14 '11 at 19:35

You could tell them you're very good with Ruby (assuming you ARE good with Ruby) and that you'd be willing to learn Rails as a part of a new job (assuming you ARE willing and interested to learn the Rails framework). On-the-job training is not that uncommon. I had to pick up JavaEE, Spring, Hibernate on the job. I had Java and web apps (not in Java) so they figured I could adapt.

In general, don't put negatives on a resume such as "Ruby but NOT Ruby on Rails", it just doesn't look good.


To a recruiter ruby = rails. It's not right, and it's a very narrow view of the Ruby world, but that's how a recruiter processes buzzwords. It would be like equating Django with Python, but the majority of the demand for Ruby jobs is for Rails applications. It will take time and another killer app to make that distinction.

  • 6
    ...or ruby == rails... – Aaron McIver Jan 14 '11 at 16:14
  • 15
    No, they've redefined ruby in their minds. They've fallen prey to that assignment vs. equality operator error. – Berin Loritsch Jan 14 '11 at 16:17
  • 1
    that or you're writing in Pascal. – Ken Bloom Jan 14 '11 at 16:24
  • Nice escape...however you then go on to mention equating...not assignment in a few sentences down the road. – Aaron McIver Jan 14 '11 at 19:06
  • 2
    :P Doh! You're too quick... – Berin Loritsch Jan 14 '11 at 19:30

Nothing that you do on your resume will stop 90% of recruiters from contacting you about Rails jobs. Just develop a thick skin and cultivate patience.

  • +1, even with no mention of Ruby they will ask you for whatever they are currently looking for. – Josh K Jan 14 '11 at 16:37

Ruby with no rails? -10 to being fashionable :)

Put "willing to learn rails", better than 'no rails' :)


I would leave it as is and just list Ruby.

I would also spend 1 hour boning up and if you know Ruby well, there's not that much to know.

  • It's Model-View-Controller.

  • The models represent database tables through the rails ORM, mapping models and attributes to tables.

  • Functionality such as authentication can be done through 'gems'.

  • html is created through 'ERB' templates.

  • Low cost hosting solutions exist, e.g. Heroku.


Recruiters who are calling are tytpically first level screeners. They make calls on a daily basis. Think of them as salesmen. Telling them no means you might be interested. In addition if they are not at a technical scale Ruby and Rails may be synonymous to them.

Tell them politely when they call that you are not familiar with Rails and would prefer to focus in a Ruby only environment; the portion of your resume you listed looks adequate and I would not suggest changing it based on the current issue.



You could clarify that you don't have Rails experience by putting "not Rails" at the end. That is if you really don't want any Rails jobs. This has the downside of automatically limiting your options as it indicated you don't know, and have no interest in learning Rails.


Why not learn Rails? If you really know Ruby well, Rails should be easy. Then you can say Ruby / Rails and open yourself up to more opportunities.

  • 5
    I would advise against putting negatives in a resume. – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jan 14 '11 at 16:08
  • Would love for someone to explain the downvote. – Josh K Jan 14 '11 at 16:08
  • @Frustrated: That was listed as one possible option. – Josh K Jan 14 '11 at 16:09
  • @Josh The OP has already stated in his question that learning Rails isn't an option right now. He also never said that he had no interest, just that it's not relevant to his thesis. Going to guess that's why the downvote. – Tarka Jan 14 '11 at 16:13
  • 1
    @Frustrated: Actually was doing a project in Grails at the same time someone else was doing on in Rails. We ended up having to call them "G" and "R" because it was getting so confusing. – Josh K Jan 14 '11 at 16:45

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.