I spent my early recruitment career ferreting around the Client Server database for ‘proper engineers’ – as David Kerr would call them.
Those that would react with gusto at the request to implement a smart pointer.
Or grin, when being asked to reverse a linked list, the old mid-2010’s C++ interview 1-2 if you will
Some even enjoyed being asked about the Fibonacci sequence, masochists.
Anyway, these days C++ is still very much in demand, but there’s a new kid on the block, and Rust is here to stay.
I say new, Rust first appeared on the scene in 2015, but when you consider some businesses are currently running versions of C++ older than that, then you get the point.
Microsoft, Amazon, Dropbox, and Cloudflare all use Rust heavily, and it’s been rated the “most loved” programming language in Stack Overflow’s annual poll for the last seven years.
I recently chatted to a senior engineer who primarily used F# at work but proclaimed his excitement at the possibilities Rust could offer, and he was doing everything he could to get the language into his day-to-day.
And he’s not alone.
It seems Rust’s popularity is not because there’s an abundance of work out there just yet, but more from how it makes you feel when you use it.
And I thought this quote from Parker Timmerman in a recent MIT Review article summed it up perfectly.
“It’s enjoyable to write Rust, which is maybe kind of weird to say, but it’s just the language is fantastic. It’s fun. You feel like a magician, and that never happens in other languages.”
Now that brings me nicely to what we’re seeing in the market; more and more businesses looking to wave their magic wands (sorry) to try and get Rust into their tech stack.
What’s interesting about hiring in the Rust space is – from our experience anyway – almost everyone wants to use it, so companies in that position can cast the hiring net far and wide.
That means C++ developers, those from the Java and C# world, and even engineers skilled in Node or Golang can be considered.
And that’s very rare in the back-end market.
Often language specific expertise, and even an understanding of a programming language’s nuances and ‘gotchas’, are a must have for hiring clients.
How to tune the garbage collector in Java, for example.
But for our Clients and Rust, that hasn’t been the case.
One of our biggest clients of 2022 built the entire back end of their insurance platform with the language.
They hired a C# engineer from banking, a mid-level Scala person from e-commerce, and a junior C++ candidate from games.
Another more seasoned business also chose Rust to re-write their telephony and call routing system and had the most joy with C/C++ engineers keen to move over.
Now I’d be lying if I said we were inundated with roles in the space as it stands, but I think that will change.
Yes, there has to be a ‘need’ for it, and no, a ‘need’ is not; “we all think Rust is really cool, please please please can we use it?”
But for anyone with a large-scale, complex, and distributed system, there’s definitely a need.
And when it comes to what their current – and prospective – engineers might think, who doesn’t want to feel like a magician?