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General Discussion

Nick Prodromou
Nick Prodromou
12,824 Points

How to REALLY be considered for a Front End Developer role

Hi Guys / Girls,

I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on something i've been trying to work out lately..

I have a degree in Graphic design, and I'm fairly competent when it comes with the adobe suite and general digital design, for the past year I've worked at a company which I was lucky enough to be hired straight out of college for... I was hired into a web design role, and I learned how to build websites using WordPress.. with a basic knowledge of MySQL to set up databases and then just using existing themes/plugins... At the time I was hired, I had only built one website ( a college project http://nicholasthedesigner.com.au/ ) and they literally took a chance on me.. hiring me into a web design/dev role I built about 14 websites that I can't use for my portfolio because of contract terms.

The company has since outsourced the website component of their offering, (my job is still secure, as I have many roles in this company) but since then I've been working heavily into the Front-End Web Dev track ( I started around October last year) and it's been a good refresher for me.. it's also meant I've finally learned some JavaScript.. I plan to continue and complete this track..

I guess my question is, where should my focus be? I look at Front End job descriptions here in Sydney, and they vary SO much, some I look at and think, I could do that? but others refer to tools I have never even heard of..

My plan is to rebuild my website (in WordPress, as it's what I know how to do) and start a blog where I try out all different things ( Frameworks like bootstrap, foundation.. JS frameworks, jQuery projects etc etc) and I want these mini-projects to serve as my portfolio (Which I will do in my spare time, as I work full-time currently)

At the moment, my current goal is to learn as much as I can about HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery, as well as SASS.. as all of the jobs have that in common ( I already have a strong understanding of CSS and HTML, and a moderate understanding of JavaScript syntax and logic as of now )...

What else should I learn / will employers take a portfolio of self motivated projects that aren't for real clients seriously? what timeline should I look at before I really start gearing up towards leaving my current job?

Also, my current employment forbids me from freelancing..

2 Answers

Ryan Chatterton
Ryan Chatterton
5,914 Points

Well it all depends on the Job really. What I expect out of every front end developer is html, css, javascript, jquery and basic understanding of sql (select, right/left joins). Thats the foundation they should have for a junior role. Anything you have above that, such as specific frameworks of library's (angularJs, bootstrap, foundation) is gravy.

I hate to put jQuery up there as a base, but its almost expected now even if the job never uses it. SASS/LESS are good foundations to have, but I wouldn't make them required. It would make you stand out over other junior developers.

But it really comes down to the role that needs to be filled and if you can be plugged in or do you have a ramp up time. Some jobs require sass/less, jquery, sql.

The willingness to learn and keep up also will put you ahead. If someone mentions treehouse or another online learning site, they get a notch in my interview. It shows me they have a drive to improve their skills on their own and without company direction. It shows a caring about their career, and drive to improve the products they are on. As well as an easy ability to challenge them with a new project if we need the resource.

As for side projects that are not real, they are taken seriously if its not your only work. If you can talk about the work projects vaguely and your experiences you had on them, other projects are very easily taken seriously. In turn they show you again, have drive to try out new things on your own time. As well if they are github, give a interviewer a chance to see your coding styles and an idea if you would fit the job.

remember, an interview is not just about you selling yourself. It's about the employer seeing if you could fit. As well as the employer to sell you on their company.

Your resume is to get your foot in the door to talk. Most don't get read until 5 min before the interview or during.

Joe Consterdine
Joe Consterdine
13,965 Points

Suppose it depends, I've never had to do any mySQL.

I'd say CSS is the most important, and I don't mean knowing the basics. I think 90% of the times I come unstuck it's down to a CSS issue. There's always something you don't know about CSS you just keep going further and further down the rabbit hole.

If your CSS is really tight then you're on the right path to been a good FE dev.

I would definitely recommend learning Bootstrap/Foundation.

There's some things that you can only learn right there on the job because things just crop up that you don't expect.

I would learn jquery but again I wouldn't worry about been a king of jquery or anything, I typically mainly only need to use it to show/hide stuff.

Some CSS things to get good at which help a lot:

  1. Learn how to create your own grid. You need to be able to understand how a grid works... I know Bootstrap does it for you but it's good to know how to do it for yourself.

  2. Get used to installing Slideshow plugins and styling them. This is something you'll need to do a lot.

  3. Learn how to do overlays over images and elements. Try doing an overlay when you hover over an image text fades in.

Plenty more but these should be a good start.

Good luck!