13 May, 2021

7 min.

How to Hire Top React Developers?

Hiring React developers has become insanely difficult in the last years. How to overcome common obstacles and find hidden gems in the crowd? Start with establishing exactly who you're looking for and prepare a solid hiring funnel. Want to know how? Then read on.

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Hiring developers (especially React developers) has become insanely difficult over the last few years.

Specifically if you are living in countries like the USA, UK, Netherlands, Norway or Denmark, you’ve most likely experienced how tough it is to hire a talented and reliable React developer.

As a leader who is growing/scaling a company, the most important skill that you should have or learn is:

Hiring great people who fit their roles and your company’s culture.

During the last five years at Brainhub, we’ve figured out that the process of finding and hiring talented React.js developers is like making sales. I’d like to share with you what we’ve learned and the processes we have established for ourselves:

  • Who we hire and why we look for a very specific group of people
  • What tools we use to find/hire/verify developers
  • How our process of recruitment looks

But first, let me tell you, why to hire React.js developers will be harder and harder each year and why it won’t get easier.


Why is it so hard to hire a React developer?

It’s hard to hire React.js developers, because JavaScript is growing fast and is one of the most popular programming languages. There are a lot of quality engineers there, and there’s a high demand. It’s difficult to find gems in the crowd.

Who to look for?

You should look for those who learn fast and are great teammates. They don’t have to be highly skilled senior React engineers who have a lot of knowledge and experience in various JavaScript technologies. Choose underdeveloped talents, eager to engage and learn.

Create hiring funnel

Creating a hiring funnel will bring you a lot of benefits, help to select the best talents and spot a React.js developer who will fit to your company culturally. We present a possible hiring funnel later in this article.

Why is hiring React developers so hard?

#1 Everybody is using JavaScript today

React.js, Node.js, Electron, React Native, and a few more awesome JavaScript frameworks and libraries are being used by top companies around the world. Doesn’t matter if we talk about the Fortune 500 businesses, startups or companies like Uber, Airbnb, PwC, Walmart, Netflix.

Look at the applications that use React:

Hiring React developers is difficult because of the vast popularity of the framework - almost 10 000 companies are using React.
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You can call it hype-driven development, but in many cases, it makes sense because this technology can give you a huge advantage over your competitors. I’m talking here about:

  • Usability of the app.
  • Great scalability of React.js – experienced frontend developers leverage React.js ability to easily create large scale apps.
  • One codebase to rule them all – React Native, JavaScript library for mobile app development, gives you a mobile experience for iOS and Android so very often you can’t see the difference with a native application (also in terms of performance if the app is developed well).
  • You can tackle desktop with Electron.js, web and hardware with Node.js framework, and mobile platforms with React Native – so, you don’t need so many developers with completely different skills, which are really hard to find or replace. You simply hire full-stack JavaScript developers to handle all of the cases.

#2 JavaScript is growing fast as hell

Based on the Stack Overflow Trends, JavaScript is one of the most popular languages right now.

Hiring React developers is difficult because JavaScript is one of the most popular technologies according to StackOverflow.
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Stack Overflow’s annual Developer Survey says that JavaScript is the most popular technology among professional developers.

Hiring React developers is difficult because JavaScript is one of the most popular technologies according to StackOverflow.
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You can see similar trend on GitHub – JavaScript is the most popular programming language by repository contributors since 2014, followed by Python and Java. The number of JavaScript repositories has been the most trending and fastest growing for the past years.

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If we have a peek at Reddit, you can see that people are talking a lot about JavaScript, React, React Native, Node.js, etc. So: it’s hard to find the most promising talents in that crowd.

#3 There are a lot of React.js developers on the market

According to GitHub’s statistics, React is used by 6.4m developers. React has bigger GitHub community that Angular or Vue, and the community is well-known for being active. StackOverflow Developer Survey shows that React.js is the second favourite web framework among professional developers worldwide.

Hiring React developers is difficult because React is one of the most popular technologies among developers according to State of JS.
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And The State of JS 2020 shows that React is the most used JavaScript front-end framework. In the same research we can actually see how many React developers are on the market.

Hiring React developers is difficult because React is the most used JavaScript framework according to State of JS.
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State of JS report shows, that there’s the number of React developers (meaning people who already used React and would use it again) is the biggest comparing to other frameworks.

Hiring React developers is difficult because React is the most used JavaScript framework according to State of JS.
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#4 And on the other hand, there’s high demand for React developers

According to Stackshare, currently 9601 companies actively use React to develop their web applications. They all create a high demand for React developers. Especially the fact that among them are companies like Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, Netflix or Instagram makes it harder to hire a top React developer if your company is smaller or if you run your business in USA or UK.

#5 Hiring great people is simply difficult

It doesn’t matter how experienced you are and how many people you have hired, it’s simply really hard to be right.

For instance, Lucjan Samulowski, one of the co-founders of docplanner.com and Goldenline (Polish LinkedIn), a recruiter for over 19 years now, said that in his career he’s hired 400 people just for sales and fired 100 of them because they weren’t a good fit for the company. With the 1st salesperson, he failed 6 times before hiring the right one – and he made this mistake in both companies.

Hiring React developers is difficult because it is hard to find a good fit for a company.
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So, even if you have a lot of experience, you should be really humble about hiring people. They need not only a good skill set but also they should fit in with your culture (which is super hard to define) and vision and be great team players.

Jack Welch used to say that if you get the hiring right over 50% of the time, consider yourself talented at executive search consulting and recruitment services.

Making the hire of a promising React developer easier

How to find a talented React developer?

Over the last two years we’ve learned a LOT about hiring, especially React developers. Let me share with you what we’ve learned so far. To the needs of this analysis, I will focus on the last 1.5 years – that’s the period when we were most actively looking for employees (mainly developers) and established an effective process.

During the last 1.5 years, we screened around 1285 people in Poland (mostly developers).

During last 1.5 years we screened around 1285 people, among them React developers.

Out of those 1285, we’ve hired 17 amazing people.

So, if you compare it to Toptal, who hires the ‘top 3% of the freelancers around the world’, then Brainhub is hiring 1.3% of the best people we can find.

Brainhub is hiring 1.3% of the best people we can find, among them React developers.

An additional advantage is that with the best people, you get less stress. You don’t have to stress about:

  • When it will be delivered (ownership)
  • Why it isn’t delivered yet (ownership)
  • Why it isn’t working (ownership…)

The work thus becomes a pleasure for both sides – employee and employer.

Now, let me share with you which people we’ve hired and why you should take a similar path if you want to build a top-notch, engaged and well-performing team.

Teammates vs skills matrix

Teammates vs skills matrix according to Jonathan Siegel.
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Jonathan Siegel is a highly successful entrepreneur (he has bought 29 (mostly tech) companies and has sold many of them).

Jonathan doesn’t hire so-called ‘A players’, ‘Rockstars’, ‘Ninjas’ etc., (they are placed in the upper-left square of the picture above). Those people are usually great consultants for a short time period. They get inside the project, solve the problems and get out. Often they can be toxic for your culture (if you build a strong teamwork/synergy culture), so don’t bring them on for the long-term.

Bottom-left square is straight-forward – you don’t want to hire unskilled workers who can’t work in teams. It’s too hard to fix both at once.

Upper-right square consists of high-performance individuals who you want to develop inside your company, but it’s extremely hard to hire some on the market because a reasonable employer doesn’t want to let them go. You want to develop your people skills to bring them to this magical square.

Bottom-right square are those guys you need to look for on the market. We call them ‘Pure Talents’ at Brainhub. They have really similar skills and at some point you feel/see a potential talent who learns damn fast, is engaged and is becoming a high performing individual. They will learn minimum twice as fast as regular employees.

Let me tell you now what we do at our company to recognize those talents and snatch them up from the market.

Do you need a highly skilled senior React developer?

As Jonathan Siegel’s matrix shows – no. Firstly, those developers are often hard to hire, because their current employers won’t let them go. Secondly, there are a lot of underdeveloped talents on the market. You need a React developer who wants to grow. An engineer who may even not be aware of his/her abilities because they didn’t have opportunity to spread their wings.

Which React.js developers should you look for?

Look for the ones who fit your company culturally. You need the ones who want to learn, engage, and work well in a team. Your job is to spot those hidden gems. How? Start with creating a hiring funnel.

Creating a hiring funnel

We’ve figured out a framework that helps us to hire React developers based on our earlier mentioned experience with screening 1285 potential hires.

Hiring funnel is a framework that helps us to hire React developers.

We’ve divided our recruiting process into a few parts, so in the end, it looks really similar to a sales funnel. We call it a hiring funnel.

Hiring Funnel

  1. Candidates screening (job ads, reaching via social media or LinkedIn, brand awareness/marketing)
  2. Test task (sending a task/small app to do)
  3. Technical test (JavaScript quiz with open questions)
  4. Giving specific feedback
  5. Interview (checking the team/culture fit called Team-Fit Test)
  6. Hired/Not-hired

1. Candidate screening

It’s a stage where we fill the pipeline of potential candidates. We verify here if the candidate has:

  • Enough experience for the position
  • General interest in/passion for technology

2. Test task

We verify if the candidate really wants to work at our company and is able to spend 1-2 hours to prove it by delivering a solved task in a framework that they may not even be familiar with. It helps us to see if the candidate can find solutions even though he hasn’t worked with the framework/library before.

3. Technical test

During the test, we ask JavaScript related questions and give tricky problems to solve. We use open questions. The goal is not only test candidates’ knowledge – we also want to find out their way of thinking.

4. Giving specific feedback

After checking the candidate’s knowledge we give specific feedback on both test task and technical test. We also send resources they can use to improve the weakest points.

5. Interview

We check:

  • Technical Skills
  • Soft skills (Communication, English level, Teamwork)
  • Culture Fit

6. Hire/Not-hired

We have a call to discuss why somebody won’t be hired by us (giving feedback) or give the good news that the candidate is hired and discuss the terms in more detail.

Tools you need to find talented React Developers

There are no ‘silver bullets’ behind our curtain. The tools are here to help us, but the process and constant hard work are the most crucial parts of the hiring process.

  • Communication / Gmail, Phone calls, Skype, appear.in,
  • Prospecting / Linkedin, Github, local classified ads, Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, Paid Advertisement on Meetups
  • Following-up talks (CRM) / Hubspot, Dashboard to control the progress (see the example made with Google Sheets below)
Dashboard to control the process of hiring React developers.

How to hire React developers – final word

This process allowed us to build a team of engaged, talented people, willing to grow. Paying attention to the cultural fit from the beginning results in flawless cooperation between teammates.

I’m 110% sure that a well-established process and 1-2 dedicated recruiters will help you to build a successful in-house team of React.js developers, but remember that you always have an alternative to this approach – outsourcing.

Hiring an external React software development partner could help you especially when:

  • You have really tight deadlines to meet/deliver your product and don’t have enough time/resources to hire/test new developers,
  • You want to speed up your software development process only for some limited time (React team augmentation) and you don’t need too many in-house React developers,
  • You aren’t very experienced with hiring developers and you’re afraid of making expensive hiring mistakes

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