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Hiring Tips & Insights: More developers are looking to go full stack to drive more product impact
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More developers are looking to go full stack to drive more product impact

20 February 2024, by Josh Nel

In this article, we explore why more developers are looking to work with full stack capabilities and what this means for companies looking to hire specialists or generalists as part of their scaling plan.

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More developers are looking to work with full stack tools in 2024

In a tougher tech hiring climate, many companies are operating with tighter hiring budgets and need to do more with less. One way they might do that is by filling open roles with generalists who can work on multiple parts of a product.

In a recent webinar hosted by OfferZen, Roberto Paulo, Head of Engineering Peach Payments, highlighted that more developers are focused on specialising in frontend or backend development in response to the increasing depth and complexity of programming languages.

“People are now really specialising in [front-end and back-end development] spaces, which is a very interesting change. So, when you’re looking for an engineer that can do it all, that’s becoming quite hard.”

At the same time, full stack developers remain the most common role at South African companies and among software developers:

Which of the following best describes your current role?

This made us ask: Are more developers choosing to specialise? And what does that mean for companies’ scaling plans?

Backend developers want to go full stack by working with frontend tools

In our latest State of the Developer Nation report, we asked developers to list the frameworks they’d most like to work with next.

In the graph below, you can see the six most wanted frameworks plotted against the developers working as frontend, backend or full stack developers who want to work with that framework:

Which of these frameworks do you want to work with next?

Radar Chart Example

The data shows that frontend frameworks React, Flutter and Angular are some of the most wanted by backend developers. At the same time, we can see a sizeable number of frontend developers wanting to work with backend tools like ASP.Net and Node.js.

This suggests that developers who already work in specialised roles are looking to work with tools that give them full stack capabilities.

When we asked backend developers why they’d want to work with frontend frameworks, their main reason for doing so was that they wanted to go full stack:

So why are developers choosing generalist over specialist routes? The data suggests that it might be due to the opportunities available to full stack developers.

Demand for full stack developers remains strong in a changing tech hiring landscape

The most likely reason for more developers looking to go full stack is simply that there is strong demand for these skillsets. In a challenging tech hiring climate, generalist skillsets can mean having more opportunities.

We can see this playing out in data from OfferZen’s platform showing the number of open positions over the past 30 days:

Number of open positions over the past 30 days

Our propriety data shows full stack developers are the most in-demand role and are comfortably ahead of both backend and frontend developers.

Going full stack can also provide opportunities to work at innovative startups and scaleups

Demand for full stack skillsets is only one factor contributing to developers looking to go the generalist route. The types of companies they’d get to work for are another contributing factor:

Screenshot 2024-02-19 at 10.42.16.png

The graph above shows the distribution of frontend, backend and full stack skillsets across different company sizes. The data shows that the majority of full stack developers are working in smaller companies with less than 200 employees. At larger companies, backend developers start to outnumber full stack developers.

This suggests that having full stack skills can make it easier to find work at startup and scale-up-sized companies which typically have an edge when it comes to culture, tech stack and interesting business problems. Developers at smaller companies are also more likely to have a bigger impact on the technology they work on.

So, for developers who are looking to maximise their impact and work at companies where they can work on interesting technical challenges, going full stack is a great way to find these opportunities.

This is good news for smaller companies who are looking to scale their team with generalists. Highlighting what sets you apart in terms of your culture, business problems or tech stack can make you even more attractive to potential team members.

Further reading:

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