Key Factors To Consider When Recruiting Front-End Web Developers

If I have to classify the factors that we consider while recruiting front-end web developers, I would break them down into several categories.

Different Categories Considered in Hiring

1. Skills

The “skills” factor is the amount of know-how you possess, your portfolio, and being able to solve different problems. Depending on the complexity of the job, some people are expected to be merely programmers, while others have to be engineers.

Being able to slice a PSD may be handy for smaller agencies, but there are other skills involved for larger projects – from working with various libraries, grids, to automating your dependencies with Bower, or complying with accessibility requirements like Section 508 – Section 508 Checklist.

You’ve rated yourself highly both in terms of PHP, Rails and Angular, I would advise you to take some tests and see where you stand. You may very well be a pro, but I’ve done hundreds of interviews with people who massively overestimate their abilities.

2. Company/Community Awareness

Sitting an interview with no idea what is the main product or service offering of a company is a bad sign. This is the main reason why companies often ask for motivation letters – they are looking for people who would be a great fit for the company and understand their motivation and goals.

When applying for a job in the frontend world, it would be a benefit if you’re involved with a relevant community. There are JavaScript, CSS, WordPress meetups everywhere (especially in the NY area), and there are thousands of open source products where you can contribute to, or at least be an online member of said community. Lots of agencies are looking for people who are passionate about their job and spend extra time attending meetups in the evening or answering questions over the weekend in support groups online.

3. Salary Requirements

That’s obviously a factor for every company (except for the largest ones), so don’t underestimate this essential detail. Do some research in your field, reach out to your colleagues working in similar roles.

If your expectations are reasonable, then this should not be a problem. You can ask your interviewer after an interview regarding the standard salary ranges – some may ignore your question, but others will follow-up. Additionally, job boards sometimes list job offers with salary ranges, and you are probably aware of the medians in your area.

4. Soft Skills

Being able to communicate promptly and clearly is important. Working in a team requires a certain level of soft skills, and the interviewer is naturally assessing your communication skills as well.

Research the company upfront and browse some employee profiles in different social networks. Some companies are more conservative, others are friendlier, and being able to convey the same attitude during an interview may be a plus.

5. Ability to Learn

The IT industry is an ever-developing field that requires constant learning. Companies have different processes and internal policies, so whatever you know, you will probably have to get used to a company’s workflow.

Being able to learn new technologies, libraries, languages, and tools is essential, and most technical interviews focus on test assignments that require some research or analytical thinking until you find the answer.

6. Availability

This is less common than the other factors, but some hires have specific requirements when it comes to availability. University students ask for flexible hours for lectures, others prefer to leave earlier in order to spend more time with their family.

A health record that assumes that you’ll often get sick leave may be a blocker as well. Companies look for dedicated and enthusiastic people eager to learn and solve problems.

Specific Requirements for Remote Front-End Web Developers

A while ago, a former manager of mine told me that he only hires former freelancers or agency owners with at least 2 years of independent experience. The rationale behind that was the amount of proactiveness, communication skills, and understanding the business needs and the importance of adhering to deadlines with outstanding quality.

As someone who hires developers – both at our office and remote – there are several criteria we pay attention to when considering remote developers.

1. Communication Skills

Remote communication is far more demanding than being around at the office. You should be available and approachable, reporting regularly and sticking to the expected time frames. Using team collaboration platforms like Slack or HipChat is more essential to remote workers since that’s the only way the team can reach out and discuss assignments with you.

If you aren’t aware of business specifics, you may miss out on discussions around the watercooler and all sorts of calls and meetings happening at the office, discussing the client needs and high-end priorities. This depends on the company culture and the amount of documentation for remote employees but often is a common problem.

Even typing speed may be a blocker unless communication happens through video calls.

2. Technical Setup and Connectivity

Owning the right equipment + proper Internet plan is important for working remotely. Most organizations have hardware setup requirements that utilize the intellectual manpower without dragging the project down due to technicalities.

Also, a lot of remote workers try to work from coffee shops or other places with unreliable connectivity. This is only acceptable with the right bandwidth and environment that doesn’t interrupt work duties. Security is also a major concern in that case since you may be blocked from various internal systems, or completely rejected due to certain security policies.

3. Professional Skills

Technical background is obviously a necessity. You can’t join an organization remotely if you don’t understand the majority of your day-to-day assignments well enough to implement them as per the company standards without supervision.

A minimum of 4–5 years of professional experience in front-end would be highly preferable, if not more, in order to deliver good results without causing overhead for the company in terms of back and forth, additional management, communication delays and the like.

4. Business/Management Skills

Office environments usually include some form of management and adjustment to business requirements (depending on urgencies, deadlines etc). Previous experience with a complete project from start to end is needed in order to allocate your time properly, plan your assignments depending on due dates, and communicate promptly with your team.

5. Portfolio/Former Experience

That’s obviously a prerequisite for hiring. We usually look for actual deliverables in GitHub and Bitbucket, references from previous clients, and production projects built entirely (the front-facing part) by the front-end developer.

A common practice in various startups and companies is a trial period at the office or even a test assignment that’s developed together with the team that a new employee is supposed to join. That ensures a good collaboration and understanding assignments properly, and can’t be validated without a solid track record of successful projects implemented as per the best practices.

6. Cost

There are two types of remote employees that most companies look for.

  1. Really low-cost employees who can help with testing, small bug fixes, or non-crucial internal projects
  2. Highly skilled professionals who have expertise in various frameworks, tools, and platforms unlike the majority of their competitors

Paying a salary for an office worker is usually comprised of several factors – from the local economic environment and salaries offered by competitors, to other factors such as commute, eating outside, and the added drawbacks of being away from the family for 9 to 11 hours a day.

We’ve received a number of applications from people who charge $80-$100 per hour as freelancers (without a lot of outstanding backgrounds) and expect the same hourly rate as full-time remote employees. That’s quite unreasonable and shows a lack of understanding of the added costs for an agency or the way a payroll is being formed.

Essentially, a candidate should assess the salary requirements carefully, and validate their expertise and know-how compared to the alternative for a company to hire someone on-site.

How You Can Add Value to Your Company

You can expand into areas tangible to front-end development which strengthen your skill set and contribute to the bottom line.

1. Design is a common one. If you’re tasked with slicing PSDs and crafting markup, study the latest design trends, the semantics of typography, and even how to design layouts yourself.

2. User Experience comes handy more often than not. Creative produced by graphic designers or web designers without UX background may not convert well in practice. A mobile-first layout may lack the depth and usability for a desktop user, or a responsive mobile design may be too cumbersome and complex for a general smartphone user.

3. If you work closely with marketing teams, consider studying marketing. Conversion rate optimization is an important aspect of increasing the revenue of your customers (or your own brand). Designing adequate marketing funnels is important as well.

4. On-site SEO could be a valuable addition, too. You may utilize the latest and greatest in HTML5, but creating semantic pages, utilizing microdata, marking down canonical pages and avoiding duplicated archive lists could prevent some common ranking mistakes.

Of course, programming is still important. Improving upon your HTML/CSS skills can always increase your efficiency and generate a higher ROI for the business. And studying React/Vue/Angular can help you collaborate closely with the back-end team and build robust and resilient web applications that scale.

What else have you noticed repeatedly in the tech field? 

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