Why can’t I find a senior full stack developer? Part 2

By Ben Ihle | Tech co-founder of attract.ai

TLDR: Tease out 2-3 skills that are imperative to the role and when qualifying candidates, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

The term full stack is a macro for a (large) set of skills and tools. It’s important to break down your list into individual tools and tease out the one or two specific skills that are absolutely critical.

Next, it’s worth thinking about which skills are missing from your team rather than focusing on skills you have already. After all — the hard problems, the ones that remain unsolved after years and countless attempts, might be solvable with approaches and techniques which you don’t have in your team at the moment. In a way, it’s analogous to how this works.

So when looking for a full stack developer, you need to be open about taking on people who broadly fit your criteria, but perhaps don’t fit the mold 100%. They might have experience in other industries, or they might have skills with methodologies that are different to your own. It has been known for some time that teams with a diverse set of skills and backgrounds are much more dynamic and capable.

When qualifying candidates, one should try to be open to candidates whose skills don’t 100% align. Chances are that if you’re keeping up with the latest technologies, in a few years you will be using different frameworks to what you’re using today anyhow — tools and techniques change on a very rapid cycle (especially in the javascript space), and thus it’s more important to find somebody with skills that are harder to teach: intelligence, adaptability & motivation.

As an added bonus, this type of person is also likely to come up to speed in a new environment quickly. When you consider that the average tenure of a developer is 2 years, being able to shave a couple of months off the ramp up time has a material impact on the value you get out of them.

There’s a reason not many people do this: It’s hard. However, this is exactly the reason that putting in the effort is so worthwhile: most companies take the easy way out and look for what they already know and are familiar with.

Changes like this aren’t going to happen overnight, but with a small amount of effort over a period of time you can have a big impact.

You’ve probably heard this a million times from us, but part of the reason the best companies are able to hire these types of people is because they’re proactive in the candidate market, and are out there building a network of talented people before the need arises.

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