Hey guys, welcome to another one of my blog posts! This is something that’s been at the forefront of my mind recently and is a big problem I’ve been looking to help out within the industry.

There’s been a lot of discussion recently in the tech industry about skill shortages, but I’m not seeing much discussion on how to fix that. A major part of this will be helping junior developers in making a jump to a mid-weight role and working with the technologies that are missing in the market.

I suppose the biggest one that I’m asked about is working with greenfield tech – React, Redux, Angular 2, Webpack etc. – and how to make the jump to that level. I’ve spoken to developers who have had three to four years’ experience working at big companies in a role that limits them to heavy use of jQuery and some vanilla JavaScript. There are obviously uses for jQuery, and vanilla JavaScript is an incredibly important tool, but lots of companies won’t accept that as good enough experience to working on heavy framework based work.

I think the major thing, in this case, is first, keeping a keen eye on how things are changing – new tools, new ideas and new processes. Keeping up to date with these things will benefit any junior developer greatly, especially when looking for a promotion or for a company move. It not only shows you in a great light on a technical side, but it also shows the enthusiasm for doing what you do.

Right now JavaScript is the big thing, and everywhere and everyone is looking for keen JavaScript developers across the whole stack. It’s hard to stay on top of everything that’s released and talked about, and I don’t think there’s a developer in the country that does. At a junior level, having side projects, personal web apps and lots of Github repositories are a huge plus. They don’t have to be perfect all the time, but really wanting to learn is one of the biggest differences at that level.

Having hired for some of the biggest tech companies in the UK, part of my job is having a good eye for what separates developers from one role to another. I get asked all the time – “how do I end up at X company working with X technology?!” Technology and ability will play a part of that, but it seems that in this industry the notion of a culture fit is really underplayed. The biggest thing at the junior levels is attitude and the cliché ‘go-getter’ nature. I’ve seen developers accepted for roles they weren’t quite technically adept enough for on the basis that the hiring manager knew that they would always strive to find out the answer to a problem and give everything a decent go before asking for help. Pushing yourself forward and trying to hit the problem head-on is exactly what the big tech companies will look for.

All in all, fixing the progression between junior to mid-level developers is getting quite pressing to me. Lots of companies are asking for the world, but how to reach that level isn’t discussed enough! Like I say, staying on top of technology and playing around with them in side-projects is a massive benefit – but for me, attitude is number one. Self-development, honesty in your flaws and an excitement to progress are the best things to make the jump as a new developer.

Jack Prior, Talent Acquisition Manager – Front-End Development
I’ve started a Slack group to help this issue! It’s named Decoding Your Future – please get in touch at JP@redcat-digital.com if you would like to join and get some advice from some great senior developers and hiring managers

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jack-prior-4a764a127/

Twitter: Jack_RedCat ‏ @RedCat_Digital

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RedCatDigital/

Google+: RedCat Digital


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