I read a blog post from Paul Graham a while ago and it’s stuck with me since then. In it, he states that hiring programmers proficient in “esoteric” languages means you’ll most likely end up with a better caliber of programmer.
The reason is that people who learn a non-standard language are learning because they like to program and the standard languages aren’t necessarily the best ones available. These people go out of their way to learn a new language for personal enjoyment, not because they have to know it to get a job. Graham calls it the “Python Paradox”:
If a company chooses to write its software in a comparatively esoteric language, they’ll be able to hire better programmers, because they’ll attract only those who cared enough to learn it.
This is the exact reason why I learned Python. I know that very few companies are currently using Python, Ruby, or other related languages. Most of the jobs out there are looking for C++, Java, or the .NET languages. But Python is simply a pleasure to use.
So, I just wanted to let people know that learning a new language can actually benefit you more than you realize. Even if you don’t use it in your job, the fact that you chose to learn a new language on your own shows that you care about programming and that you have the gumption to do something “unprecedented”.