What to Expect When Hiring Full-Stack Developers

Tech recruiters everywhere are posting hordes of jobs for full-stack developers (FSDs). A quick scan for FSD (spelled out, of course) on a dozen popular global job boards finds over 180,000 active jobs posted. Unfortunately, there is no good way to cross-check the postings between the varied job boards to eliminate duplicates. So, the actual number is likely quite a bit lower. But then again, there are many FSD positions not posted on these job boards where the hiring manager and internal recruiting team are either scouring their personal networks for candidates before advertising or using other job boards. For discussion sake in this blog, let’s just assume the real number is about half of the number above 90,000.

The Full-Stack Job Spec

With so much FSD demand, what is going to make your job posting stand out? Be sure to include the best details of the company culture that you’re hiring into and descriptions of the applications to be built and their significance to the company and society. Of course, do your homework on salary data to offer attractive compensation. Get very clear about which areas of the full-stack are must-have-expert-level, moderate-level-okay and nice-to-have. FSD candidates are generally lopsided with their skills so additional clarity will help save everyone time.

Expect Hiring Delays

The big problem is that there are not enough candidates. How much time do you have? Even if you’ve assembled your game plan with a winning position description you might be in for a wait. Out of the 500 million profiles on LinkedIn, there are 4.25 million who are self-described software programmers. (Yes, this includes JavaScript coders.) Of these, only 80,000 describe themselves as “Full-stack Developers”. And almost all those 80,000 are already employed. So that’s 90,000 open jobs chasing 80,000 mostly already employed potential candidates. That means there are not good odds of finding what you’re looking for quickly. And since one of the main points of hiring FSDs in the first place is for speed, they better be really fast once you find them to make up for lost time.

Yes, there are candidates who do not have LinkedIn profiles. But keep in mind that most of them are not looking for or considering a job change, otherwise they’d be on LinkedIn. If you get really desperate and hire an outside talent recruiter to find your FSD, they’ll be using their super-premium-level LinkedIn subscription to find candidates.

How many of the 80,000 are competent FSDs? Irrelevant. Many aren’t and that’s what your structured interview process will have to filter. But it is worth noting that analysis of a sample set of LinkedIn’s FSD population shows that 53% either have (1) less than 5 years of total work experience or (2) an average tenure of fewer than 1.5 years on each of their last 5 jobs. That indicates that half of these so-called FSDs haven’t stayed in jobs long enough to see the real damage that their code is inviting. They’re missing an entire macro-feedback-loop of learning how to write better code and better software. Perhaps it’s not surprising since, by the very nature of claiming FSD status, these candidates were more attracted to adding new technology acronyms to their resume rather than going deep in competence on a few.

One approach to consider is attempting to find and recruit solid software engineers who have all (or nearly all) the necessary skills for FSD but are not claiming the FSD moniker. You may find candidates more interested in putting in the extra effort to complete their FSD journey with assignments that provide the intrinsic benefit of learning new skills. Further, you may find decent FSD candidates who just aren’t up to speed on this latest software engineering self-marketing trend.

You’ll find more details and suggestions on hiring your FSD team in this white paper where I also discuss other more promising alternatives.

In my next blog, I’ll discuss the merits of training your existing developers to become FSD.

Building a Full-stack Developer Team White Paper

Building a Full-stack Developer Team

Many companies are trying to hire full-stack developers in hopes of achieving greater speed and agility in developing the mission critical apps they need to power digital transformation. There’s simply not enough qualified candidates. This guide explores several options of getting full-stack developer outcomes.

Get Your FREE Guide

Author:

Joe leads the global marketing team at LANSA, a provider of low-code software development tools. Joe started out his career with a series of computer operations and programming positions where he designed and built systems to optimize manufacturing production runs, manage large equipment and asset maintenance, optimize inventories, and consolidate multi-national financial ledgers. Joe’s 20+ year career has included technical and marketing leadership roles at GE as well as a series of small software technology companies in Chicagoland including Infogix, SmartSignal, Cleo, and now LANSA. His position at LANSA has him helping fellow programmers find productivity solutions to better maintain and build software applications.

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