How to find the best React developers for your team?

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React has been one of the most in-demand frontend frameworks and the backbone of many innovative projects for years. A lot of companies are interested in taking advantage of it to build interactive and high-performance apps. However, before they can compete on the market with their apps, they first need to compete… for the attention of skilled React developers! In this article, we’re going to share our experience on how to attract, find and verify a React.js developer, how React developers look for new job opportunities and why it is an especially difficult part of front end development when it comes to finding candidates.

At The Software House, we participate in ambitious software development projects on a daily basis. They feature a lot of React web applications. To that end, we constantly search for talented developers that meet our specific requirements, in terms of both hard and soft skills, and fit our tech stack. Over the years, we have accumulated tons of experience when it comes to growing dev teams around various specializations and technologies in software development in general and front end development in particular. React.js developer is one of the job titles we pay the most attention due since this is one of our core technologies. We constantly refine our processes that help us find exactly the kind of software engineer we need to work on the most challenging projects.

In this series, we’re sharing some of it so you can grow such React teams on your own much like top React companies do and save yourself a lot of trial and error in your web application development efforts. In the previous parts, we talked about hiring PHP developers and Node.js developers. Today, it’s time for React – the most in-demand frontend framework and one of the core technologies of our software development stack.

The React developers jobs market overview – no slowdown in sight

At this point, pretty much everyone knows that React is one of the leading open source frontend frameworks in modern software development. But it is only when you see the actual numbers at hand, when you realize just how important it is today. According to Hacker News Hiring Trends, React is mentioned in c. 30% of all job postings for software developers in the popular “Who is hiring” thread on ycombinator.com (keep in mind, it’s not limited to frontend devs!). Of all frontend frameworks, React is ranked 2nd for the number of stars on GitHub in 2019. What’s more, developers who took the 2019 Stack Overflow Survey voted it the 2nd most popular entry in the Web Frameworks category (appeared in 31.3% of all replies). It seems that today everyone and their mother wants to be or work with a React.js developer and this open source framework!

When you look at the data, what’s striking is the fact React’s popularity continues to either rise or hold strong despite having been on the software development market for quite some time already. This stability, combined with its potential for building high-performance user interfaces, makes React a tool of choice for top technology companies: Facebook (no surprise here, it’s React’s motherland after all!), Netflix, Yahoo, and Dropbox. React has become a technology used both by the giants of the IT world as well as smaller companies who use it to create fast and highly interactive web applications.

Developers are naturally drawn to technologies that are fun to work with and in-demand, which also means that they pay well. This in turn leads to a large pool of potential candidates. However, it’s not all roses. With tons of work to do, the best React developers with years of experience are drawn to top technology companies, which causes a problem for small and medium enterprises that want to recruit a React developer (it’s especially visible on the Nordic IT market). On the other hand, there are a lot of React devs who specialized in the framework too quickly, having not worked on their basics enough. Before we get to specific strategies, we need to figure out what kind of React.js developer you should aim to hire. This will have an impact on all the steps you’re going to make later.

Stack Overflow's reports
Stack Overflow’s annual reports confirm the continuous popularity of the React framework

What kind of React developer should you hire?

You may not be able to get a React developer with 10 years of experience who has memorized the code of all React components. It does’t mean you can’t get someone that is just perfect for developing your React applications.

At The Software House, we have a general list of hard and soft skills we expect from a prospect for various experience levels. As for a mid-level React frontend developer, it would be as follows:

  • Proficiency in JavaScript/TypeScript (including basic functional programming concepts such as higher order function etc., dependency injection, MVC and design patterns)
  • At least 2 years of practical experience in JavaScript/TypeScript, HTML5 and CSS3
  • At least 1 year of experience in creating applications using one of the popular frontend frameworks (React and React component knowledge is preferable, but Angular 2+ and Vue.js is fine too) and JavaScript library such as jQuery
  • Knowledge of common development tools – Git, ESLint, Prettier
  • Practical experience working with Rest APIs
  • Practical experience with Responsive Web Design
  • Experience writing tests using Jest
  • Experience in CI/CD is welcome
  • Communicative English

That’s the perfect world. But in the real world, one should be a bit more open-minded when it comes to hiring JavaScript developers in general and a React developer in particular. Otherwise, you run the risk of missing out on someone really good React.js developer candidates. What does it mean here specifically?

To answer this question, let’s ask TSH’s Head of Frontend, Witold Ossera. What he says confirms that a good React developer needs a strong JavaScript background.

“I think that focusing too much on searching for a React developer is not a good idea. You need someone who is proficient in JavaScript, HTML and CSS. The more programming background, the better. As long as they have sufficient experience in any modern frontend library, they can get up to speed with React quickly. At the same time, a good React frontend developer should have a wider perspective, which also includes some UX skills. They are the ones who produce what the user ends up seeing, after all.”

What about good soft skills? Are they more or less difficult to come by and develop than sheer programming skills? Is an average React developer skilled in this area?

“Solid soft skills are harder to come by, by far. As for TSH, we’re searching for open-minded and communicative React developers. During an interview, we’re emulating real-life project scenarios to see how a candidate would respond to various challenges, related to both programming and communication (Scrum-based). At the very least, it’s enough to weed those who are clearly not (yet) ready,” adds Witold.

How to find a React developer – inbound methods

With all that said and done, we can begin our search for the best (possible) React developer out there. As always, it includes a mix of various inbound (aimed at attracting candidates to you) and outbound (focused on finding and contacting leads directly) tactics. Some of the most important inbound methods for hiring JavaScript and React developers include:

  • Job portals

This is a no-brainer. Some of the most popular websites where you can post your job openings are Monster and ZipRecruiter. But do not forget about local options which differ depending on your location. It’s an easy way to find a front end developer specialized in React.

  • Career page

A polished career page on your official website is very important in your search for a React developer. The better it looks and the more useful and easy to understand it is, the higher level of conversion you can expect for your contact form. A good idea is to use A/B tests to run a few versions of the career page against each other. After all, a software engineer is a web user like any other – they can be more or less engaged by different copy, images, layouts and approaches to communication.

  • Internships

With internships, you can raise your own React developers from juniors. However, keep in mind that it can be a long process and you’ll need to appoint some of your React developers with more years of experience and software development prowess as mentors who’ll train the React juniors.

  • Webinars

Online webinars on hot software development topics such as React are a great way to draw the attention of developers and build awareness for your brands. It may even work as a way to score direct job leads. At The Software House, we regularly run online webinars on various topics. If you need some inspiration, check out the recordings of our online software development tutorials.

  • Referrals

As part of a referral program, you can reward your employees with cash and other benefits for recommending a React developer with years of experience they know (of course, as long as the recommended candidates actually get the React job!).

  • Social media

Aside of ads, you can use social media in a more creative way to bring traffic to your React job postings. One way to go about is by posting on various topical Facebook groups on React and related issues (think “React Developers London”, “JavaScript Netherlands” “Full Stack Developer” or “Front End Developer Experts” and so on). Make sure to check the group’s posting rules before you add new content.

  • Newsletters

A newsletter can be a fairly easy way to show that your brand is a place a React developer should try to learn more about. Check our TechKeeper’s Guide for tech leaders for inspiration on React and other topics for front end developer or full stack developer.

  • RSS feed

A lot of React developers like using RSS readers to quickly get news from various RSS-based feeds om the kind of web applications you work on and the way you front end teams work. It’s fairly easy to make it possible for users to subscribe to your web content (e.g. your company’s blog) with that method.

  • Outdoor ads

Outdoor advertising is not a typical way of promotion to get a front end developer or React.js developer. But it is precisely why it may help you stand out. Get creative! How about a billboard in an unusual spot that you know is attended for some reason by people who work as a developer?

Google Optimize
Google Optimize is the latest A/B testing tool from Google. It has both a free and paid version and it can be used to test different version of a web application or website

How to find React developers – outbound methods

Inbound marketing will work best when used in conjunction with some outbound efforts. These may include:

  • Direct Search

The basic way of searching for a React.js developer is, of course, to search on portals such as LinkedIn and GitHub. However, to find and contact the most interesting prospects with years of experiencem including full stack developers with React, you should make use of advanced search methods. There are some best practices you can use to make your search more precise such as Boolean search (with AND/NOT/OR operators), Quoted Search (using quotes to obtain exact matches only for your keywords), or Parenthetical Search (to create complex keyword requests). With LinkedIn’s paid tool for recruiters, you can also extend your search to include advanced filters based on location, interests, specializations, experience or mutual connections.

  • Google Search

It may surprise you just how useful Google and other web search engines can be when it comes to searching for React candidates. Using advanced search, you can use many of the same methods described above to find React developers with years of experience on various websites. Quick protip: use the command “site:example.com” in order to limit results to a specific website.

  • Third-party events and conferences

You can attend conferences and other events related to React, or more generally to making web applications, user interfaces, full stack development or even React Native (a related technology used in mobile development0). They often allow companies to engage developers in a conversation in various ways (booths, special events, or even informal networking). You can also become a sponsor to increase your visibility. For example: recently, The Software House sponsored the main JavaScript conference in the region, which gave us the opportunity to present our company during the event, and I must say that LOTS of React developers with more or less experience stopped by our booth to talk about our tech stack, the kind of web application we focus on, our best practices and, of coure, job opportunities.

  • Self-organized events

You can also organize an event of your own. It is an experience that can really give you tons of benefits. A big advantage here is that it is up to you when and how you will engage your attendees. The Software House organizes its own regular series of meetups called Uszanowanko Programowanko, which usually includes three lectures and a networking part with free pizza and beer. It took us a while to attract the attention of the local community, but now more than 100 developers attend the meetup every month and it really helps us with employer branding. Our devs talk about TSH projects, the kind of work they do, how they can grow their skills over the years at TSH and a lot more.

Uszanowanko Programowanko meetup by TSH
The programming event Uszanowanko Programowanko is both a way to give back to the community and work on promoting the TSH brand among React developers

How to find React developers – tools

There are various tools that can help you perform many of the activities described above.

  • Sourcing tools

They speed up the process of finding new candidates in various ways such as by giving access to a wider talent pool. Examples include LinkedIn Recruiter Life, Amazing Hiring or Intelligence Search.

  • Screening platforms

Those tools allow you to test the skills of your developers (usually hard skills only). Some of the most popular include Devskiller or Codility.

  • Recruitment management tools

CRMes for HR specialists, often referred to us Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSes). Popular programs include SmartRecruiters or Recrutee.

How to find React developers – outsourcing

As you probably realize by know, while none of these activities by themselves are extremely difficult, the hard part is to maintain the intensity and regularity of these efforts in order to truly stand out and build the strength of your brand in the eyes of the React community.

If you believe that these efforts are not feasible for you, you might consider outsourcing. Companies such as The Software House exist specifically to solve the problem of hiring highly-skilled developers. They go through all of the effort described above so that you don’t have to. And they provide you with flexibility of changing the number of developers or even quitting completely – when hiring locally, you simply can’t do that. 

Some of the most typical scenarios for turning to outsourced React developers include:

  • The need to quickly customize your product to seize a lucrative deal.
  • Rapid development to meet strict deadlines (e.g. to obtain external financing).
  • Speeding up the time-to-market.
  • Making use of the top-quality know-how of software houses which develop diverse custom software projects every month.
  • Other development needs that stem from unusual often last-minute circumstances (e.g. changes in data privacy laws).

A good way to find top outsourcing companies is by using B2B review platforms such as Clutch. When it comes to finding React developers, they can prove useful in assessing the quality of companies that offer React development outsourcing. See the official The Software House account on Clutch.

Summary

Do you feel like you now know how to go about searching for React developers in order to use React and all of its new features to the fullest? Regardless of what specific methods you are going to choose, keep in mind that being regular about it is absolutely essential. Also, remember about other ways to obtain skilled React developers for your web applications, like getting help from nearshore outsourcing companies (great option especially for most developed markets such United States, UK or Western Europe). Use this information to create your own unique path to growing a React team that best suits your short- and long-term web application needs. Good luck!

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