Should we start using the term JavaScript developer for Front end roles?

Have you ever seen the show 3% on Netflix?

Vanessa M.
Mar 16 · 4 min read

It’s about a community that is trying to survive poverty in the “Inland”, and every year people have the chance to live a better life by passing some challenges so that they can live in what they call the “Offshore” (paradise). If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you do and if you have, then you’ll see the similarities I have experienced while interviewing.

I quit my job at the beginning of the year because I was unhappy and it wasn’t suitable for me anymore. I also wanted to get into using modern technologies like React/Redux, Typescript, GraphQL, Contentful, Gatsby, NextJS. After taking a course on React, I started applying to jobs where React was a requirement. These jobs normally require an intro call with a recruiter and then a coding challenge. I went on so many interviews that I lost track of them and had to go back to my calendar to remember the “amazing” time I spent in all the interviews for this article. Here are a few:

  1. Consulting company → no coding exercise → asked me “what is a Promise?”, which I replied sorry I don’t know.
  2. Educational company → React multiple choice quiz based on the role → passed quiz → video call with two developers from the company. One of the developers asked me if I had done Unit Testing before, to which I replied “No, none of the companies that I’ve been in needed unit testing”.
  3. Fitness company → asked me to do 2 coding challenges → CS Fundamentals algorithm and data structure
  4. Remote company → asked me to do a Trivia React code challenge in 8 hours → wanted me to use Flow, Unit Test, Redux, and design beyond the wireframe
  5. Software company → great conversation with Recruiter → but looking for a Strong React developer… not me
  6. Remote company → asked me React based questions for 15 min and then coding exercise with CS Fundamentals
  7. Remote company → took an online Javascript multiple choice quiz and a coding challenge with Promises async/await

These were all front-end roles where I felt companies wanted a strong JavaScript developer instead of a Front End. In my opinion, a Front End developer works closely with a designer to match their design and they could potentially exchange ideas that work for the browsers. A front-end developer could also work with backend developers to ensure the back end meets design requirements. For me, this is one of several skills you need to be a Front End, along with knowledge of CMS, cross-browser testing, accessibility, SEO, page performance, UX, DOM manipulation, GIT, data API, data formats, etc. Only 1 company tested my CSS skills. Do we not care about CSS anymore, what are companies really looking for these days? A Javascript developer?

I have worked in agencies since I started developing, so I have been building websites for different clients. I didn’t know what a promise was because in those companies they used jQuery with WordPress, AEM, or Drupal and there wasn’t a need for them. I started my JavaScript journey three years ago when I was hired by a private client to design and build an interactive React form.

Looking back to all of the interviews I started to see a pattern, I was able to answer all the recruiter questions (which made it clear I had the experience), but I struggled through the coding challenges. Most of those coding challenges covered computer science fundamentals, for which I do not have a degree nor any experience. They’d seen my resume, which includes my education, but I was still given algorithms and data structures exercises. In the past, coding challenges would include building accordions, carousels, hamburgers menus, submenu flyover, overlays, a scroll to position, and some sort of animation with GSAP or CSS3. I know the companies that I have applied for won’t be requiring any of the mentioned functionality above, but you do see I have the experience.

After quitting my job to find new opportunities, I feel like I’m stuck in the software development “Inland” because I’m not able to pass any of the challenges. As companies keep shifting from jQuery to JavaScript I want a role where I can expand my JavaScript experience. What happened to mentorship? Should Front End roles be named JavaScript? Am I applying to the wrong companies? Am I the only Front End developer in the same position, if not, what should we do?

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