Frontend Mentor
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Frontend Mentor

A better way to discover junior front-end developers

Since launching the Frontend Mentor platform in April 2019, our community has grown to over 250,000 members (🎉). The idea for Frontend Mentor came to me when I was teaching front-end web development. I wanted to make it easier for my students to practice and create projects for their portfolios.

Our projects, or “challenges”, mimic a real-life workflow for a front-end developer. A professional designer would do the design work, and it would then be the developer’s job to recreate it in code.

Our challenges help developers focus on what developers do best: writing code. We come up with the project ideas and the designs; our community builds the projects to help improve their coding skills. Not only does this mean they gain real-life experience working from real-life designs, but it also means our community members end up with a professional-looking portfolio of beautiful projects!

It’s been incredible to see Frontend Mentor grow into a vibrant, positive community where everyone supports each other.

As we’ve looked for more ways to help our community, we found one common theme: it’s hard to land junior roles.

Recurring sticking points include:

  • Companies often have unrealistic expectations. For example, it’s not uncommon to see junior roles advertised requiring several years of experience.
  • Many interview processes include whiteboarding assessments based on algorithms, even for junior front-end roles.
  • Good junior job listings are often hyper-competitive. Some even receive hundreds of applications in the first day or two of being advertised.
  • Companies are often vague about their salary ranges, interview process, and training paths.

Helping our community find work has always been a goal of Frontend Mentor. To better understand the problem, we started talking to people in hiring positions to see if they also experienced difficulties hiring juniors.

It very quickly became apparent that they did! Common issues people in hiring positions highlighted when hiring juniors include:

  • There’s no clear “best” strategy for discovering junior talent. Companies often use a mixture of job listings, partnerships with educational institutions, trawling LinkedIn, and getting recommendations from existing employees.
  • Large numbers of applicants, many of whom don’t meet the specified criteria. This means companies are often drowning in a sea of resumés and cover letters.
  • The resumé and cover letter review process is often very high level and error-prone, so it’s easy for talented developers to slip through the net.
  • GitHub profiles can be hard to navigate when trying to find suitable projects to assess skills.
  • Portfolio projects can often be old, and the developer might have only had a small role in the codebase.
  • Portfolio projects for juniors often don’t look great (after all, developers are not designers), so it can be hard to see past the UI/UX and focus on the code.
  • There’s no track record to base decisions on, so finding the right developer can be a lottery.
  • The process is often bloated and inefficient. There can be many stages, including initial applications, resumé review, screening calls, technical tests, in-person interviews, and more.

After talking to a wide range of people, we believe we’re in a unique position: we have an opportunity to help both the developers within our community and companies looking to hire juniors.

Introducing the Frontend Mentor Hiring platform

Due to launch in early 2022, we’ve started working on a hiring platform to complement our learning platform. Our mission will be to help connect great companies with our incredible developer community.

Our first offering within the hiring platform will be called Talent Search, which will enable companies to search developers using specific criteria. This includes attributes like experience, skills, and location. Talent Search will then surface the developers on our platform that best match these criteria.

Talent Search will make it possible to proactively search for developers instead of waiting for people to apply to open roles. In a sea of resumés and cover letters, so many talented developers can slip through the cracks with traditional job applications. Our goal is to let the completed projects and code reviews posted speak for themselves. This will provide incredible insights into developers’ talent, knowledge, and written communication skills.

It might even help bypass a stage or two of the hiring process, saving time and money. We’ve had numerous developers in the community who have been hired based on the strength of their Frontend Mentor projects. After a technical conversation about their projects and an interview, they’ve received job offers. We’d love to make this a regular occurrence!

The developers will have to state that they’re available for work through their settings. If a developer doesn’t opt-in, they won’t show up on the hiring platform. Showing only the developers looking for work will filter out the noise for hiring managers. It will also ensure our developers aren’t receiving unsolicited messages when they’re not looking for a new job.

We have lots of ideas for the hiring platform, but we’ll start with our Talent Search offering and evolve it from there based on feedback.

What can you do?

If you’re involved in your company’s hiring process, please check out the hiring platform page on Frontend Mentor, where you can learn more and sign up for our waitlist.

If you’re already a professional developer, please share with anyone in your organization who is part of the developer hiring process.

We’ll launch a closed beta before our public launch. We’d love to get as much feedback as possible to provide a great solution that works for everyone!

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Matt Studdert

Front-end/JavaScript developer who loves to build useful products. Creator of Frontend Mentor (https://www.frontendmentor.io).