Why You Can’t Hire a Front-end Developer

So much for that depressing unemployment rate, all those people supposedly looking for work–you might be muttering–why is it I can’t get someone to do that HTML/CSS/JavaScript project?

Why You Can’t Hire a Front-end Developer

  1. You want only full-time, salaried employees. I admit my bias as a freelancer on this one, and, frankly, I’m mystified why restricting your development team to only full-timers exerts such an attraction, especially for mid- to senior level roles. Why not use freelancers, part-time employees, job sharing teams, or a combination of all these? I welcome your discussion in the comments.
  2. Your requirements are out of whack. To be fair, I think this isn’t as pronounced a problem as it was a few years ago; maybe it’s the growing acceptance of MVC frameworks which has made it obvious just what a front-end dev does.

    But if you’re requiring someone “expert” in the full Web stack, interaction design, logo creation, QA, server administration, social media, copywriting, etc., then be prepared to talk to a lot of candidates who are either lying about their credentials, or with uselessly shallow capabilities in these vastly different skills.

  3. You’re only considering young, white guys to be suitable candidates. In the United States, it’s illegal to discriminate in hiring for these qualities, but hiring entities evade the law by masking their narrow preferences in phrases like “recent grad” and “good cultural fit.

    I admit confusion on why a recent grad is so desirable as a front-end developer, since university curricula are rarely as up-to-date as the knowledge an experienced Web dev would acquire from real-life projects; again, I welcome your explanations in the comments.

  4. It’s too obvious you’re a slave driver. The organizer at one of the tech Meetups here in the Bay Area takes a moment at the start of every meeting to read job postings employers send to him, hoping to interest the attendees in applying. One evening he read a post requesting a developer who would commit to working “60-70 hours a week.”

    We sat quietly for a moment. Then one attendee remarked,”Raise your hands if you’re interested in working ’60-70 hours a week’!”

    All of us laughed. Nobody raised hands. And, I suspect, nobody answered this job posting. That employer lost out on a room full of fifty or more potential hires.

    Not persuaded? Here’s something to consider: there’s a reason why a book titled The Four-Hour Workweek was a bestseller, and one titled The Sixty-Hour Workweek was not.

  5. You’re trying to cram a tech team into an entirely different kind of organization. A telling symptom of this kind of cultural disconnect is a policy requiring all employees, even tech workers, to use the same operating system, e-mail client, Web browser, and so on. A related problem is trying to graft a front-end specialty onto what had flourished, or at least endured, as a server-side team. The results in both cases include confusing job requirements, unsatisfying interview questions, irrelevant performance criteria, and low interest in your project from experienced front-end developers.
  6. You and your people don’t seem to get out much. Are you physically present at any local tech gatherings? Anybody on your team a participant in a Meetup, a BarCamp, a *DevHouse? Anyone there have an active GitHub account?

    When I don’t see much evidence of these extracurricular activities, I assume your team is exhausted from working too much. Who wants to join that?

  7. Your benefits aren’t, well, all that beneficial. If you really want to hire extra-special people, go beyond the clichés of foosball tables and Friday keg parties.Do you offer matching 401(k) funds? Cover your employees’ health insurance premiums? What kinds of paid leave do you offer both parents and the childfree?

    At the very least, re-examine your paid vacation leave policy. If it’s the dismal U.S. standard of “two weeks” (really just ten working days) a year, it’s not enticing anyone who has a choice of workplaces.

  8. You’re requiring onsite work, but your office environment is terrible. I remember my interview at a big, then-prestigious Web company a few years back. I don’t remember any of the interview questions, nor even my interviewers; all I remember about this company are the dispiriting rows of beige cubicles, the glaring fluorescent lighting, the looming, low drop ceiling, the smell of the microwaved burritos employees were eating at their desks, the complete absence of natural light and airflow, and my recurring thought: Man, oh man, I can’t wait to get out of this place.

    If memory serves, I think I actually ended the interview early–there was no way I was going to be interested in working for this company. Rule of thumb: if you’re requiring people to work in what looks like a set for The Office or a Dilbert cartoon, please call in a design consultant for a revision.

How did you hire a front-end developer?