LinkedIn Sourcing Challenge – Ruby

During my SourceCon NYC session, I gave an example of a sourcing challenge that can verify one’s “capacity to think logically and solve problems in novel situations, independent of acquired knowledge. It is the ability to analyze novel problems, identify patterns and relationships that underpin these problems and the extrapolation of these using logic.”

This capacity is otherwise know as fluid intelligence or fluid reasoning .

The LinkedIn Sourcing Challenge

If you and/or your team are up for a test of your fluid reasoning and sourcing capability, try solving this challenge:

  • Find a LinkedIn profile of someone who has Ruby on Rails experience, but does not mention Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Rails, or RoR in their profile, and show with a link or other evidence exactly how you are certain they have Ruby experience.

There is no single correct answer – there are many different approaches to solving this challenge.

I’m going to recognize Jeremy Langhans once again for being able to solve that challenge in about 15 minutes before I even finished my presentation, using only his iPhone. To this date, no one else has even tried to take a crack at it.

The gauntlet has been thrown down. I hope at least a few people are up to the challenge!

Do You Have Strong Fluid Reasoning?

People who will develop into the best sourcers will definitely be those with fluid reasoning capability. The ability to solve problems in novel situations – those a person has never previously been exposed to and not resembling something formerly known or used – is essential to a world-class sourcer.

In contrast, crystallized intelligence is the “ability to use acquired skills, knowledge, and experience.” People with strong crystallized intelligence are able to repeat what others have shown them, but have a difficult time with scenarios they haven’t previously encountered and with thinking outside of the box when their standard approach doesn’t yield the enough (or any!) relevant results or leads.

The great thing about challenges like this one is that they don’t focus on someone’s ability to repeat something that someone else showed them. Instead, they verify a person’s ability to think creatively and solve a problem and give you insight into their abilities – far beyond being able to answer a multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank question.

In many ways, exercises like this are no different than those used by software engineering companies who ask developers to write code on a whiteboard or on a computer during an interview to solve a problem or accomplish something specific. Doing so can clearly demonstrate to a hiring manager or team lead how a person thinks, and how they go about solving a novel problem.

In other words, this kind of exercise evaluates a person’s critical thinking ability. Which is, you guessed it – critical.

Bragging Rights and Benefits

This is an excellent opportunity to show the world what you and/or your team can do.

For those who might be afraid to even try – please don’t be intimidated by the sourcing challenge. There is no single answer, so you can’t get it “wrong” unless your approach doesn’t clearly show how you know for certain that the person whose LinkedIn profile makes no mention of any variation of Ruby on Rails actually has Ruby on Rails experience.

Provided enough people share their solutions, the global sourcing community will benefit from seeing how many different ways such a problem can be solved.

What’s the Point?

I’m glad you asked.

Other than applying some game theory by offering thousands of sourcers and recruiters around the world with the ability to take a crack at an interesting sourcing challenge and build upon the approaches of others (isn’t that point enough?!?!), I will be writing a post in the near future to demonstrate exactly why it is very important for you to be able to find people with skills and experience they don’t mention – especially on LinkedIn.

There will be more challenges in the future – stay tuned!


  • Jeff Versluis

    I solved it — here is the linkedin profile of Peter Lada:

    No mention of Ruby at all, but here is his resume, which lists Ruby as one of the languages he uses:

    Pretty simple to solve, really. I used the linkdomain: search on yahoo’s search engine:

    linkdomain:linkedin ruby

    found his resume, found the link to his linkedin profile on the bottom, and that’s that.

  • kameron swinton

    Here’s another solution –

    Ben is a member of the Merb group – (A group for developers and users of the powerful and flexible Ruby based web framework Merb.) and he works at EngineYard (Engine Yard is the leading cloud platform for Ruby on Rails.)
    A quick Google Search on Ben’s name with Rails and you find his Ruby on Rails developer profile –


  • Glen – this was a wonderful challenge. Lot of out of box thinking.

    I gave it a shot few weeks back and shared results with you.

    I ran an internal competition on this couple of weeks back. I’ll surely send you those results as well. I think these competitions a) Ignite the creativity / new ways of sourcing in you b) Tell world how fun sourcing can be and c) Challenge our existing assumptions….

    We should have them more…..

  • Jasonorton
  • My approach to contest: –

    I want to search for a person who is a RoR professional but have not mentioned any combinations of Ruby on Rails – which part of LinkedIn profile would relate to this technology?

    I entered Ruby in group search

    No. 5 group was very unique which was called Rubyists.

    WOW!!! This definitely a ROR group but does not contain any of Ruby on Rails keyword in title. (Technically speaking!!)

    OK – now what next?

    I need to search for a person who is part of this group but have not mentioned Ruby on Rails on his profile anywhere.

    In people search

    Rubyists –ruby (-ruby eliminates results which have ruby as kewyord on their profile while still search for Rubyists on their profile (which is a group)).

    Only two names – let’s open Josh’s profile.

    His entire profile does not have any keywords / combinations directly related to ROR.

    How do we know he is a ROR guy?

    Recently Josh Cronemeyer and I were working on writing a game in Ruby

    Look at his blog

    He has written various articles on Ruby on Rails. Go and have a good scan of his blog.

  • Luis Cupertino

    It’s a long time since I was an IT resourcer for Unix, but picking up some basics gleaned from your posts. Here we go:

    I initially had a read on Wikipedia to see what the hell Ruby on Rails was and picked out some key terms including Merb (both companies merged) and MVC. The results showed loads of Ruby on Rails, so I tried the following to eliminate the term ‘Ruby’. Seems to work.

    I used the following search string in Bing: merb -(ruby) -dir

    Then found the name of Paul Dlug who is part of the merb group on LinkedIn.

    Searched on Google. Looked on his posterous profile. About half way down he writes: What’s compelling about Rails 3 for those of us who left rails for Merb, Sinatra and other “nicer” frameworks? #merb #rails

  • Nice work gentlemen – I sincerely appreciate your immediate attack of the challenge!

    I do hope more people respond with different techniques/approaches (hint, hint – you who’s reading this…).

    Amongst you, there were 4 angles – some starting with an Internet search engine and others starting with LinkedIn:

    Jeff used linkdomain, which if I remember correctly is what Jeremy used. This definitely works, but it isn’t guaranteed to ID people who do not mention Ruby on their LinkedIn profiles (e.g. result #2 for me – Seth).

    Kameron targeted a related and relevant group (Merb)

    Sarang performed a Ruby group search and eliminated the keyword Ruby

    Luis used a Bing X-Ray targeting Merb -ruby

    Jason – you definitely found a profile that solves the challenge, but it would be ideal if you could explain precisely how you identified Rob. :-)

    To anyone else reading this – can you solve the challenge from a different angle than the intrepid gentlemen listed?

    And to those interested – I have a very interesting Gordian Knot for you to hack at for next week’s sourcing challenge.


  • Ben Munat – &&

    Tried to look at some of related keywords, did note the merb connection, but wasn’t sure if merb sans Rails prior to 3.0 counted.

    Finally went a different route – googled top sites developed using RoR, selected one at random from the list, and looked for keyword developer sans the words we were not to use. Back-checked him online to make sure he really did use RoR and done.

  • BB

    Is there a way to make this search location specific, a general search would pull out a lot of result?

  • Sam O.

    I tried my hand at it…
    I create a Boolean string….

    Resumes captures “Ruby on Rails” —
    LinkedIn profile for Ryan Yonzon did not have Ruby on Rails, (9:12pm – March 9, 2011), but it had error ;-)

  • Bill Fischer

    Fun challenge. Here’s one. Ran a semantic skills extraction across Twitter.!/adamchavez


  • JJ McCarthy

    Hi Glen, I tried to to do it for Rep of Ireland only… bit of a challenge but here we are

    Great fun!

  • @BB — RE: location-specific —

    Specifically in LinkedIn? Once you identify some useful search terms and a good approach, just use the advanced search features to limit to a certain geography (country, or miles from postal code), or the “Location” sidebar (if you have this fully enable) to select specific results from an unbound search.

  • Rosemary Menna

    for another way to source I went to: Typed in the keywords “Ruby on Rails”, came up with Rajesh Ineni’s resume which states Ruby On Rails. Went to Linked In, did a people search on Rajesh in Michigan, found his profile and it does not state Ruby on Rails anywhere.

  • Lclark

    Google site search perl smalltalk lisp web develop*
    Result towards bottom had the keywords and RadRails
    Google search on that keyword
    RadRails is a Rapid Application Development IDE for the Ruby on Rails framework

  • Jasonorton

    When I first read about your challenge, I thought about it quite a bit. This was several weeks ago. Then I checked Wiki because I’ve never had to find anyone with the skillset. I read about ROR and figured there could be any number of ways one might to it. So when your challenge came again, I was a bit relieved, because I’d been curious to see if I could do it in a reasonable amount of time.
    I settled on the method I thought would probably be fastest. I didn’t initially explain my method because it felt a bit cheap. When I worked for you Glen, I don’t believe that you were touting JIT Recruiting, but you were already teaching it. And with that in mind, going for the simplest answer is what I aim for in most scenarios. If you had asked for more, I would have aimed higher.
    At any rate, that’s a lot of excuse for my poor method: I did a search in google for resumes with “ror” in them.
    I then cross referenced them in Linkedin. The second profile, Rob’s, made no mention of ROR, ruby, rails, etc. and thus fit the requirement.
    Simple, crude, but it was effective. It took me about 5 minutes, most of that time was thinking about how I would do it and then picking one out. Admittedly, I did have a bit of a headstart.

  • Jeff – you did not solve it. sorry. there is a mention of ruby on peter’s li profile:

    Development Manager

    Privately Held; Computer Software industry

    November 2009 – March 2010 (5 months)

    – Implemented a split testing framework at this angel-funded startup
    – Responsibilities included establishing and instilling agile product development culture, delivering the business backlog iteratively and on-time
    Technology stack: MySQL, Ruby on Rails, REST, JavaScript, Flash, ActionScript, Flex, Aptana, SVN

  • ps. like your effort and style ;)

  • sounds like a solve to me!

    ps. wonder if you can find someone who doesn’t have the word Ruby in the description of his group ;)

  • solved! GOOD JOB, Jason

  • sounds like a solve to me!

    ps. wonder if you can find someone who doesn’t have the word Ruby in the description of his group ;)

  • Kameron Swinton

    how about Phil Misiowiec? :)

    A simple Google search on his name and Rails brings up his profile on a RoR forum ->

    He’s a member of the EngineHouse community but no mention of Ruby or Rails (For all those who work for, do business with, or are general fans of Engine Yard, their products, and their support of the open source community.)


  • Luis Cupertino

    Hi Jeremy. I assume you have full access to his profile because I could only see the basic details from my Bing search, which had no mention of Ruby or Rails, so in my defence I think it should still count :)

  • kameron swinton

    Here’s the search string I used -> (developer or “software engineer”) “engine yard” -rails -ruby -ror -inurl:dir -inurl:company -inurl:jobs


  • I used Kngine and typed in ruby on rails and did some research on Wikipedia and hand selected some keywords/phrases such as:
    -convention over configuration
    -linux distribution
    -unobtrusive javascript

    From several searches I ran, “linux distribution”, “merb” and “unobstrusive javascript” are keyword terms that are heavily associated with Ruby through X-Raying LinkedIn via Bing by leaving out the keyword “Ruby” and including “Ruby” in a separate search and compare apples to apples.

    “WEBrick” and “convention over configuration” are terms less frequently used when viewing LinkedIn profiles, but some of these folks do have knowledge, exposure/experience with Ruby.

  • Jonathan Jurewicz

    I win! My 5th profile (first one in the US) is a Software Engineer at GroupOn, one of the leading eCommerce firms using the language/framework. It took me 4.5 minutes on a X-Ray search. I want some more.

  • Jerry Albright

    Interesting challenge Glen. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not as up-to-speed on all this boolean stuff…..but one of my star recruiters took the challenge. Here’s what she came up with in less than 10 minutes:*1_Scott+_Bourdeau+_*1_*1_*1_*1_*51_*1_I_us_*1_*1_false_1_R_true_*1_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2

    And here is his profile wherein his Ruby on Rails is noted: < Granted – he's not a RoR heavyweight by any stretch. But I believe his profile does qualify under the general challenge.

  • Can’t miss a challenge! Here’s a suggestion.

    Haris Gulzar is his name. If you search for his name and “ruby” on Google you’ll find him in a number of places such as & more.

    Here’s the LI profile:

    Now, a counter-challenge for you’all is: how did I find him?
    (Jer, please do not respond to the question; I know that you know the answer. :) )

  • Jj Mccarthy

    Hi Glen,

    Forgot to write my search above – went with something straight forward as initial search (and probably got lucky!!) (“associations ruby Ireland” OR “associations merb” OR “associations ror” OR “associations ruby on rails”) -(“ror developer” OR “ruby on rails developer”) – (summary near 10: rails OR summary near:10 ruby)

    allowed myself to search groups due to work constraints.

  • Jeff Versluis

    ahhh… His PUBLIC profile has no mention of Ruby, but if you are to log in and re-visit his profile, there is much more information available, including mention of Ruby. Technicalities…. :)

  • Whoops! Accidently responded to the RSS feed rather then post :-) (I’ll blame a three year old hanging off of me at the time for the mix-up LOL)

    Searched for any presentations on Ruby On Rails

    Searched Blaine and found this info

    Here is his LI Profile

  • Sorry if this is a repost, got an error message first time I put it up.
    Martyn Loughran

    Last employer specialized exclusively in RoR

  • Hi Glen,

    My approach was to read about ruby on the wiki and shortlist the key words including merb web framework. He is a merb group member in LI and hope this is a right profile, i used a simple string merb inurl:pub -ruby -inurl:dir



  • I’m not technical enough to even participate in this discussion, but have got to say how impressed I am with the whole crew here. I love your passion and collaborative spirit. Oh, and the fact that you’re all killer-smart and down for a challenge is pretty awesome, too! I use LinkedIn religiously, need to learn more of this.

  • Pingback: LinkedIn Sourcing Challenge – X-Ray Location False Positives()

  • Tom Furlong

    Like Irene above, I am relatively new to Boolean searching and have no background in IT search (my exp is in Life Sciences) but since nearly all recruiting openings in ATL are for IT people, I thought I would give the exercise a shot. I was not able to fully able to complete the exercise but was headed down the right track: Wiki search on Ruby (thanks- now I know what it is) and started a LI search: Linux AND NOT (ruby OR ror)- got a list of names but, due to time constraints (i.e. job search), did not review the list to see if I had turned up an acceptable candidate.

    Thanks to all above who shared their methodology and demonstration of “fluid reasoning”; I look forward to future challenges and will review previous entries to help improve my reasoning and searching abilities.

  • Dov Preminger

    A bit late on this but, here’s a method I used. A well-known internet company founded on Ruby is Twitter. A LinkedIn X-ray from Bing: current software *** twitter -dir reveals current software developers at Twitter.

    For example John Corwin:

    Though he doesn’t mention Ruby or Rails or RoR, we can assume Twitter developers likely have knowledge of Ruby. Confirmation can be found in a twitter post by John Corwin, I can only assume lamenting Ruby Dev problems…

    “@thinkingfish fuckin java….. fuckin ruby…..”!/johnxorz/status/43590212135288832

  • Maria X Ekizian

    I used LinkedIN Recruiter’s “All Groups” feature for this challenge.

    I searched for people with no mention of ROR on their profile using this string …

    -ruby AND -ror AND -rails AND -“ruby on rails” AND AND -java AND LAMP AND MVC

    In the “All Groups” field I typed in Ruby and up pops a selection Ruby groups from which I have to select one.

    I selected the “Ruby on Rails” Group because it has the largest membership with13,298 profiles.

    I have one match …

    1. Alesei Narkevitch
    Headline: Senior Front-End Developer at Roundarch
    Location: Greater Chicago Area
    Industry: Online Media

  • Maria,
    Thanks for posting your method – I love the “All Groups” feature!

    You could shorten your string to this if you liked:
    LAMP MVC -(ruby OR ror OR rails OR .net OR java)

    AND’s aren’t necessary, and you can exclude any/all mentions of a number of words by using the – sign in conjunction with a parenthetical statement.

    I like clean strings. :-)

  • Pingback: LinkedIn Sourcing Challenge – Ruby | プログラマダイジェスト()

  • Greg Harezlak

    Ha! Just found this, but I thought it was cool.

    In the advance search fields, I input:

    [keyword] NOT ruby NOT rails NOT “ruby on rails” NOT “ruby-on-rails” NOT “RoR”
    [title] engineer OR developer OR programmer
    [company] Github

    Github is a notorious ruby shop, and any engineer who has worked there will have a Github profile with a ruby repo. BAM!

    Case and point –

  • Kim Ener

    MERB search will usually turn up hidden ROR

  • mazaher abbas

    for searching the new building technique check the method and services window glazier ,commercial glazing ,window glazier and glazing companies .

  • Pingback: How to source software developers from LinkedIn - Devskiller - measure programming skills of developers()

  • Hello Kim,
    I didn’t find concrete information about what is MERB Search and how it works. Can you please tell me more about it or share some link how it works?

    Thanks in advance