The rise of the ‘Full-Stack Developer’ has been well documented/debated/fought over the last 18 months or so. The pros and cons of this multi-talented all-rounder unicorn would make up an entire blog post in itself but as the popularity of this marmite requirement shows no sign of waning, we thought we’d give our take on what to consider when going to market to source one for your team.

What is a full-stack developer?

This is hotly debated by many within the tech universe. For now I’m going to offer this explanation from Sitepoint;

“The term full-stack means developers who are comfortable working with both back-end and front-end technologies. Being a full-stack developer means to have an open mind towards new technologies, having your hands dirty in each one and to have an understanding of how a web application gets done from a concept to design to the finished product.”

Considerations

Disclaimerthis list is far from exhaustive and we’re not suggesting all businesses fit the below. We’re also focusing on the most popular stack we see in the market; front-end with a PHP back-end.

Lean?

Perhaps it’s worth asking yourself whether (if a perfect 50-50 split can’t be found) you’d prefer someone with a lean towards back or front-end? What projects are upcoming? What resources/cover do we have within the team already? What can you live without? What can be picked up quickly with training or learning on the job?

The front end

Do you need commercial Javascript library experience (React, Vue, Angular etc)? If not, is there an opportunity for this person to learn/use them within the role?

This is a big draw for developers; if you don’t currently offer this it could lead to problems attracting candidates and if it’s not part of a short-mid-term plan you may struggle to keep hold of your new hire. Is there a UX element on offer? Again, popular with many front-end developers.

The back end

Is the role mostly CMS based? What MVC frameworks do you work with/require? Do you work from a bespoke framework?

These are important considerations for the back-end side as hiring a senior developer without the opportunity to work with recent/popular frameworks could lead to retention problems. A junior or midweight developer could be quite content without this for a while so long as the tech stack is progressing.

Is there the opportunity for elements of DevOps work? This is a serious draw if there’s a chance to work with AWS, Ansible, Docker, Puppet et al.

Salary?

Really strong full-stack developers don’t come cheap. And why would they? After all, they are potentially completing the role of two people.

The exact salary will be determined by the tech required as a pre-requisite (particularly if you need JS libraries such as React.js, Angular2 or PHP MVC such as Laravel, Symfony2) but expect to pay more for a great all-rounder.

As a general band around Bristol, Bath and surrounding areas;

HTML, CSS, JS/JQuery, CMS, no JS libs, no PHP MVC – £23-30K

HTML, CSS, JS/JQuery, either JS libs or PHP MVC – £28-35K

HTML, CSS, JS/JQuery, JS libs, PHP MVC – £35K+

R&D/learning

Are you able to offer time within the working week to build new products or learn new tech with emerging/new technology?

Any developer will tell you that this is vital to their development and engagement, by failing to offer it you could cause yourself difficulties in retention in the future.

The future and rest of the team?

What is the impact of hiring this person on the team? Will the next hire also be full-stack? Is there a possibility of an uncomfortable overlap if you were to hire a front or back-end developer next? How will the team look/grow? Will the new hire be happy to specialise along one track in the future?

As mentioned, there’s a lot more beyond this to think about. If you’d like a chat about the above or to share your experiences of hiring a full-stack developer we’d love to hear from you at hello@adlib-recruitment.co.uk.