In July 2023 I applied for web development jobs for the first time in the last 5 years. I heard that the market changed a lot since then and wasn’t sure what to expect.

What I was looking for

  • Senior front-end role or a senior full-stack role with Elixir or JavaScript/TypeScript.
  • Fully remote.
  • German employment contract.
  • English-speaking team.
  • At least 2 other front-end developers in the company so I have somebody to talk to about CSS.
  • No evil shenanigans like gambling, tobacco, big oil, or destroying democracy.
  • Salary between 80-90k EUR.

What I had to offer

I have 7 years of full-stack web development experience in small product companies. That includes experience with a variety of modern and not-so-modern JS frameworks and strong HTML and CSS skills, as well as 5 years of backend experience with Elixir and Phoenix.

My CV fits senior full-stack roles with Elixir perfectly. A full-stack role with JavaScript or TypeScript was a stretch - I know the languages well on the front-end but never did backend work in them.

I thought I would also do well in a senior front-end role, but I think my CV was hurting my chances a little bit based on the prevalent belief that “full-stack developers are just back-end developers that sometimes do a bit of front-end badly”. I don’t identify with that definition.

I didn’t want to apply to back-end only roles because I get too much joy out of writing CSS :rainbow: and too little joy out of optimizing SQL queries :zzz:.

The data

I have applied to 14 companies.

The last one I applied to was the one I received an offer from and accepted. I will exclude that job from the data I’m sharing with you. I want the data to be anonymous, and it is not possible to keep the anonymity of the company I will start working for in a few months. All you need to know about that one is that it was by far the fastest one to reply, and we got in touch based on a shared connection. Networking works, yay!

I only applied to companies that had an office in Germany to be sure that an employment contract was possible, and only to companies that offered remote work. My strategy was to either think of a company I thought was cool and check their careers page, or to browse LinkedIn job ads. I also checked out Elixir Forum for job ads, but there are maybe two ads per month there that are remote work in Europe.

I dropped out of 4 recruitment process after I signed a new contract.

Position Company Size Rejected after application after First round invite after Rejected after first round after Resolution
Senior-Staff Front-end 50 6 days     ❌ Rejected
Senior Full-stack with JS 500 7 days     ❌ Rejected
Front-end 1) 100   2 days 2 days ❌ Rejected
Senior Front-end 2000       👻 Ghosted
Senior Front-end 100   14 days   💸 Dropped out
??? 2) 100     0 days ❌ Rejected
Senior Front-end 800 31 days     ❌ Rejected
Senior Full-stack with JS 5000 12 days     ❌ Rejected
Senior Front-end 200 14 days     ❌ Rejected
Senior Front-end 2000   6 days   💸 Dropped out
Senior Front-end 400   12 days   💸 Dropped out
Senior Front-end 50   18 days   💸 Dropped out
Senior Front-end ???       👻 Ghosted

Cherry-picked stats

  • Ghosting rate: 15%
  • Initial rejection rate including ghosting: 54%
  • Initial success rate (invited to the first round): 38%
  • Total rejection rate including ghosting: 64%
  • Rejection reasons after going through the first round:
    • 1) I applied for a role without a level specifier hoping for a senior level, but the company only needed (had a budget for) a mid-level developer.
    • 2) The external recruiter that sent my CV to the company misled us both, telling me it’s a full-stack role, and telling the company that I’m a back-end developer.
  • Waiting time for an initial positive response:
    • min. 2 days
    • avg. 10 days
    • max. 18 days
  • Waiting time for an initial negative response:
    • min. 6 days
    • avg. 14 days
    • max. 31 days

Notable observations

  1. Most companies did not list salary ranges in the ad.
  2. Some companies had a mandatory field with salary expectations in the application form.
  3. All websites had autoresponders that confirmed my application, so I didn’t have to worry whether the form was actually submitted. However, they did not send me a copy of my answers, and I regretted later not writing down what I put in the salary expectations input.
  4. This job search was vastly different from my last two. Both previous times, I applied to two companies and got invites to the first rounds from both within two days. It would be fair to say that I was a bit spoiled by my past searches.
  5. The first two rejections hurt the most. I applied to companies I admired and I genuinely thought I would be a good fit for them.
  6. The first round was usually a screening call, but who did that interview differed a lot per company: a team lead, an HR generalist, an internal hiring specialist, or even a CEO. One company I applied to had a HackerRank coding task as the first round.
  7. External recruiters suck. They understood neither my nor the company’s needs. They made me talk on the phone for 20 minutes and answer questions that they could have gotten answers to by reading my CV. And I’m a millennial, I hate phone calls!
  8. sucks. I tried using it because it was advertised on my favorite podcast. I spent hours writing my profile and doing their skill assessment tests. I got zero messages in 3 weeks.