Hiring JavaScript Developers

How Hiring JavaScript Developers Can Lose Your Company A Bunch Of Money

November 9, 2020
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Shai Unterslak
Director at Dado

We all know that bad hires can be expensive, but when it comes to hiring JavaScript developers, there is so much room for error.

React, React Native, Vue.js and Angular are driving modern user interfaces. But behind every slick web interface, is a team of developers that have mastered the ins and outs of JavaScript. Or at least there should be. I've hired at least one JavaScript developer a month for the past few months, and let's face it, figuring out whether someone can write great code just isn't that easy.

There are a few reasons why great JavaScript developers specifically are becoming more and more hard to find and retain, and why it's becoming so easy to let a bad apple slip through the cracks. I'm going to touch on three of those reasons, and speak to how we should be thinking about hiring JavaScript developers in 2020.

1. The online bootcamp revolution

One of the most powerful outcomes of the access to information that comes with the internet, is the surge in Software Development educational resources, certifications, and bootcamps. Online platforms teaching courses focusing on React development, Vue.js Development, Gatsby.js development and just about every other frontend framework / library you can think of, have become incredibly popular.

JavaScript developers search term
Companies bidding on the search term 'Learn JavaScript'

The fact that anyone, regardless of their background and skill level, can jump into a cost effective JavaScript development course, is something to be excited by from an economic development standpoint (higher skilled workforce is great for some economies in some cases). It is also a recipe for saturation in a market.

The accessibility and increasingly low barriers to entry for JavaScript developers mean that it is only a matter of time before there are many more JavaScript developers than there are JavaScript development roles. We're already seeing a surge in the number of applications which means that we need to get better at spotting talent, as to avoid the expensive processes that come with sifting through hundreds and hundreds of candidates.

Big tech companies have tried to solve this problem through automated screening and filtering of candidates, and there is definitely merit in that approach, but executing on such a sophisticated hiring strategy takes time to set up, time to maintain, and leaves room for error. Think about your favourite, most productive developer, and think about whether an automated coding challenge would capture the skills they have that make them such an asset. We are certainly getting closer to this reality, but for now, in most cases we need to have a combination of automated and manual interview processes.

2. Retaining remote developers

Companies around the world have long realised that tapping into global talent is often very beneficial and cost effective. If your software product earns you money in dollars, pounds or euros, you could hire half of your developers from a low cost of living company and enjoy some impressive margins. This increasingly popular organisational structure means that developers have some seriously attractive offers landing in their inbox's, and some of those offers come with great benefits, campus's, and sexy company cultures. It has become virtually frictionless to move from job to job, and the average developer moves jobs much more frequently than ever before. Attracting and hiring tech talent is one thing, but retaining them is a separate piece of the puzzle. Even if you are / were a developer before you started working as a hiring manager / project manager, I guarantee you there is at least one thing that would make your team happier and more productive, that you won't know about. I say this so confidently because developers needs are constantly changing.

There is a need to keep an eye on the trends in terms of employee benefits, and what software developers require to be happy and productive. And getting this right in one location isn't enough anymore. Companies wanting to retain remote developers need to have people on the ground who understand the full context. These people need to pick up on changing needs and preferences, and flag them before developers lose interest in the company.

Getting this wrong leads to a high turnover rate which is expensive and time consuming.

3. Tech stack driven hiring

You might know exactly what you're looking for. Maybe it's a "Remote React Developer" or a "Vue.js Frontend developer". And hiring for a tech stack has its benefits. Specialisation is powerful and productive, but having flexible, rock solid developers is very important in a dynamic industry such as tech. We need to make sure the people we entrust with our systems can grow with our systems. This isn't to say we should be making our job specs unreasonable, but we need to have higher standards in order to validate that the developer can ship great code beyond the specific and granular requirements of the project you're hiring them for.

So how do we dodge these bullets, and future bullets to come? This could be where I tell you to just:

'Leave it to Dado and tap into a dedicated outsourced specialist JavaScript developer!'

But that might not be right for you. If you want to have a small team and hire yourself, than just reading up on the dynamics is a great first step, and I'd be happy to give some more specific advice on this (feel free to ✉️ mail me).

If you are looking to have a dedicated developer (or team of developers), working in a super dynamic and productive environment in Cape Town, South Africa, we might be able to help with that.

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