How to Hire Full-stack Developers: A Complete Guide

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Rafael Timbó
By
Rafael Timbó
|
Chief Technology Officer
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Table of Contents

This article is a guide to full-stack developer roles. It includes practical tips for finding top talent and outlines best practices for hiring full-stack developers.
Published on
July 5, 2022
Updated on
June 17, 2024

Full-stack developers, or full-stack engineers, are integral to tech teams because of their broad expertise in front-end and back-end development. They manage various projects, from user interfaces to database management, showing versatility that is critical for quickly building and scaling engineering teams.

However, finding and hiring full-stack software engineers presents challenges. The high demand often exceeds supply, making the recruitment process competitive. Evaluating a candidate's broad skill set also requires a thorough approach to ensure they fit technically and culturally within the team.

What Is Full-stack Development?

Full-stack development refers to working on both the front-end and back-end of web applications. Full-stack developers handle projects ranging from developing web services to integrating application programming interfaces (APIs), troubleshooting software, and fixing bugs.

Projects requiring comprehensive solutions, like e-commerce platforms, social networks, and content management systems, benefit the most from this holistic approach. Full stack development facilitates integration between different parts of an application for a consistent, responsive user experience.

Businesses rely on full-stack web developers to streamline development processes, reduce costs, and increase flexibility. That's why they often select developers who can tackle multiple aspects of a project—helpful for startups and companies growing their IT teams.

Back-end Development

Back-end development focuses on the server side of applications and handles data storage, retrieval, and processing. It involves working with Linux, databases, servers, and application logic using programming languages like Python, Java, and PHP.

Back-end developers create and manage APIs that front-end applications use to interact with data. They frequently also configure and maintain web servers like Apache, which is critical for hosting and serving web applications efficiently.

This type of development makes applications secure, scalable, and able to handle large amounts of data efficiently. For example, an e-commerce site needs robust back-end development to manage inventory, process transactions, and handle user accounts securely.

Front-end Development

Front-end development focuses on the user-facing side of applications. Front-end developers use languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to build the visual elements and interactions that users see and interact with in their browsers.

Projects like corporate websites, mobile web apps, and interactive dashboards heavily rely on skilled front-end development to deliver a high-quality user experience.

DevOps

DevOps combines software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops) to improve the efficiency and quality of software delivery. It focuses on automating and integrating the processes between software development and IT teams, allowing for continuous integration, delivery, and deployment (CI/CD).  DevOps practices include version control, automated testing, infrastructure as code, cybersecurity, and monitoring.

DevOps helps organizations rapidly deliver reliable and secure software. For example, using tools like Jenkins for automated builds and Docker for containerization streamlines deployment processes and reduces downtime.

What Does a Full-stack Developer Do?

A full-stack software developer handles front-end and back-end development tasks to bridge user experience and server-side functionality. Their overall objectives include creating fast web applications, integrating the client-side and server-side components, and maintaining the performance of web pages.

Full-stack developers work closely with design, project management, and other development teams. Their ability to work on multiple aspects of development makes them invaluable for cohesive and efficient project execution.

Full-stack Developer vs. Software Engineer

Full-stack developers specialize in front-end and back-end web development and work on user interfaces, server-side logic, databases, and APIs. They offer a holistic approach to web development. Full-stack developers have proficiency in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, server-side languages (Node.js, Python), and database management.

By comparison, software engineers focus more on designing and developing software systems and applications. Their know-how often involves complex algorithms, data structures, and software architecture. They may specialize in areas like back-end systems, embedded systems, or data engineering. Software engineers have a strong foundation in computer science principles, algorithm design, data science, data analytics, and, often, more specialized programming languages (C++, Java).

Software engineers are likelier to be involved in large-scale system design and complex software solutions. They generally command higher salaries and have more formal education in computer science or related fields.

Full-stack Developer Skills and Qualifications

Full-stack developers should have a mix of soft, hard, and technical skills. They typically have a bachelor's degree in computer engineering, computer science, or a related area of study. Having a degree can provide the foundational skills necessary for full-stack engineering.

Soft Skills

Soft skills necessary for full-stack software development include:

  • Communication: Full-stack developers must be able to convey technical details to technical and non-technical team members to meet project goals.
  • Problem-solving: Finding and fixing issues is critical to maintaining and improving application functionality.
  • Time management: Developers often juggle multiple tasks and projects—efficient time management helps them meet deadlines and prioritize workload effectively.
  • Teamwork: Collaborating with designers, developers, and other stakeholders promotes a smooth development process and requires strong interpersonal skills.
  • Adaptability: Full-stack developers must quickly learn new technologies and methodologies to stay current and effective.

Technical Skills

Full-stack engineers should have one or a mix of the following technical skills:

  • HTML/CSS: Mastery of these foundational web technologies is crucial for building and styling web pages.
  • JavaScript: Proficiency in JavaScript and related frameworks and libraries (e.g., React, Angular, Vue.js, jQuery, Express.js, AngularJS) is fundamental to creating dynamic and interactive user interfaces.
  • Server-side programming: Knowledge of back-end languages like Node.js, Python, Ruby, or PHP is necessary for developing server-side logic and managing databases.
  • Relational database management: Experience with SQL (e.g., MySQL, PostgreSQL) and NoSQL (e.g., MongoDB) databases is important for data storage and retrieval.
  • Version control systems: Proficiency with Git and platforms like GitHub or GitLab lets developers manage and collaborate on code efficiently.

Tools and Technologies Used in Full-stack Development

In addition to the coding languages and tools discussed earlier in this article, full-stack members of a development team must be proficient with various tools and technologies to be productive in their roles. These include:

  • Frameworks and libraries: Knowledge of frameworks like React, Angular, and Vue.js are essential for building complex and responsive front-end applications. For the back end, familiarity with frameworks like Django, Spring Boot, and Ruby on Rails helps streamline server-side development with pre-built components.
  • RESTful APIs: Understanding and creating RESTful APIs is critical for building scalable applications that interact smoothly across different platforms. This skill implies a developer’s ability to integrate and manage server-client communications effectively.
  • Web Design and UI/UX principles: Proficiency in web design tools and UI/UX principles lets developers create visually appealing and user-friendly interfaces. Competency in this area suggests a well-rounded ability to handle web applications’ aesthetics and functionality.
  • Cloud platforms: Familiarity with cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud is critical for deploying scalable applications.
  • DevOps tools: Experience with DevOps tools like Docker and Kubernetes improves the software development lifecycle through containerization and orchestration. This lets a developer manage stable, scalable applications.
  • Web performance optimization: Skills in optimizing web performance using techniques like lazy loading, code splitting, and caching are critical for improving user experience and load times.
  • Testing and debugging tools: Proficiency in using tools like Selenium, Jest, and Mocha for automated testing and debugging helps maintain code quality and reliability for robust applications.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire Full-stack Developers?

The approximate annual U.S. salary for a full-stack developer varies by experience level. A junior developer with 1-3 years of experience typically earns around $101,000. A mid-level developer with 4-6 years of experience can expect to make approximately $108,000, while a senior developer with 10-14 years of experience earns about $149,000.

Variations in full-stack engineer salaries arise due to factors like location, industry demand, and the specific technologies developers are proficient in. For example, developers in tech hubs like San Francisco or New York City earn more because of the higher cost of living.

Additionally, the method of hiring can impact the full-stack software engineer salary. In-house developers generally receive consistent wages and benefits, including bonuses and stock options, which can significantly boost total compensation. Freelancers or contractors might have higher hourly rates but lack long-term benefits.

Nearshoring and hiring remote global employees can also influence salary, with companies potentially reducing costs while accessing a diverse talent pool. Effective budget forecasting for tech roles may involve a mix of in-house, contracting, and nearshoring.

Featured Tool: Tech Team Budget Calculator

Tips to Hire Full-stack Developers

To hire top-tier full-stack developers, companies should look for education like boot camps or certifications, passion for the field, and soft skills. Additionally, technical interviews and customizing applicant tracking systems (ATS) will help HR managers find candidates with the right hard skills.

Look for Bootcamp Graduates

Bootcamp graduates often have hands-on, practical experience with the latest technologies. HR and engineering managers can review their projects and capstone work, as these can demonstrate real-world problem-solving abilities and technical skills. Bootcamp graduates are often well-prepared for junior roles.

Evaluate Open-source Contributions

Reviewing candidates' open-source contributions yields insights into their coding style, problem-solving skills, and collaborative abilities. Platforms like GitHub allow recruiters to see candidates' repositories, commits, and interactions with other developers.

Use Software Developer Skill Assessments

Software developer skill assessments allow users to evaluate candidates' technical abilities. These assessments can include coding challenges, problem-solving tasks, and scenario-based questions. Tools like HackerRank or Codility help filter out candidates who lack the necessary technical skills.

Analyze Technical Interview Questions Responses

During technical interviews, HR managers should pay close attention to how candidates respond to technical interview questions. They should look for clarity, logical thinking, an understanding of front-end and back-end technologies, and skills in explaining complex concepts clearly.

Customize Applicant Tracking Systems

Recruiters can set custom filters and tagging systems in ATSs to highlight full-stack developer-specific skills and experience. They can also use advanced features like keyword searches to identify resumes that mention specific coding languages, frameworks, or project experiences. Additionally, automated scoring can help prioritize candidates with the most relevant skills.

Check for Continuous Learning

Top full-stack developers continuously update their skills to stay current with evolving technologies. Candidates whose resumes mention recent courses, certifications, or self-learning initiatives should be prioritized in the hiring process.  

Assess Soft Skills

Full-stack developers need strong communication and teamwork skills to work effectively within development teams. HR managers should evaluate candidates' soft skills through behavioral interview questions and their ability to articulate technical concepts to determine their cultural fit.

How to Write a Full-stack Developer Job Description

Clear, detailed job descriptions help attract the right candidates and streamline the hiring process.  HR managers should perform competency mapping, skills gap analysis, and talent mapping to create an accurate list of skills and tasks for the role.

Recruiters should consider the complexity of tasks and responsibilities to gauge whether they need a junior, mid-level, or senior developer. For example, junior developers may handle straightforward projects, mid-level developers work on more complex systems, and senior developers lead critical projects and mentor junior team members.

Job descriptions should include:

  • Required qualifications/experience/education: A job description should briefly specify qualifications or experience needed, such as a degree in computer science and 3-5 years of experience in full-stack development.
  • Desired skills and traits: The job description should prominently include specific skills like proficiency in scripting and automation and soft skills like teamwork and communication.
  • Job responsibilities: Work duties such as developing and maintaining front and back-end technologies and collaborating with cross-functional teams should be noted in the job description.
  • Benefits: The job description should enclose the full-stack engineer salary and benefits package, including health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off, if applicable, to attract top talent.
  • Company information: The company's values, culture, and mission should be prominent in the job description to give potential candidates a sense of the work environment.
  • Software development tools: The company should also enclose a list of specific development tools the role will require using — for example, Git, Docker, and Jenkins — to make sure candidates are familiar with the necessary software.

Interview Questions for Full-stack Developers

When interviewing full-stack developers, recruiters should ask questions that reveal their technical expertise and soft skills. A mix of questions, such as the ones below, will help hiring managers find candidates who can effectively collaborate, communicate, and adapt to a new work environment.

How do you maintain code quality in your projects?

This question reveals the candidate’s familiarity with best practices such as code reviews, automated testing, and using tools like Git for version control. Hiring managers should look for answers that mention continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, writing clean and well-documented code, and adherence to coding standards. This helps assess their commitment to producing reliable and maintainable software.

Can you describe a time when you had to explain a technical concept to a non-technical team member?

Communication skills are essential for collaboration in a diverse team environment. Candidates should describe a scenario where they successfully communicated technical terms and details clearly and effectively, demonstrating empathy, patience, and the ability to simplify complex ideas.

Tell me about a project where you worked closely with other developers. How did you handle disagreements or conflicts? 

Evaluating a candidate’s approach to teamwork and conflict resolution is crucial since no full-stack developer works in a bubble. Answers should showcase candidates’ ability to navigate conflicts constructively, listen actively to others’ viewpoints, and find mutually agreeable solutions, highlighting their interpersonal skills and team-oriented mindset.

Hire Full-stack Developers With Revelo

Finding the right full-stack developer requires thorough vetting of technical and soft skills. Revelo can help streamline this process by matching your business with developers who are time-zone-aligned and rigorously vetted for technical proficiency, soft skills, and English fluency.  We also help with onboarding, payroll, benefits administration, taxes, and local compliance.

Contact us today to build or scale your tech team.

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