Where to find frontend web development job at the lead/architect level?
March 5, 2014 4:17 PM   Subscribe

I've been doing frontend web development for around 15 years and want to find a new position at the lead/architect level. I know a few sites to look at, and plenty of recruiters contact me, but what else can I do?

My issue is that most of the jobs I'm hearing about are still more "Sr. Frontend Developer," which is a step down in title (and usually in salary) from where I am now.

Venues I've explored:
Putting my resume on Dice and waiting for recruiters to call
Personal networking via twitter, etc.
I am aware of indeed.com but haven't tried it yet

But I feel like I'm missing something as far as finding the more senior jobs (though I have been contacted about a few.) Are there any other sites I can try? Should I look at company websites directly and if so, can anyone recommend any in particular? Are there any reputable recruiters who specialize in this area?

I'm in L.A. and not looking to relocate, though I would definitely be open to remote work. In a *very* extreme edge case I might be willing to start for a few months in the Bay area, if I could work remotely from L.A. after that.

I'm confident I have the background to land one of these jobs, if I can find them. My work is largely in Javascript, which is currently a growing technology. I am getting interviews and will probably be getting offers soon, I just want to make sure I am not leaving any stones unturned. Thanks!
posted by drjimmy11 to Work & Money (10 answers total)
Check out Hacker News if you haven't already. Also, if you're interested in a position where you'd be 100% remote, contact me via MeMail and I can give you the basic details about my company, who is always looking.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:47 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Make sure you're using 'senior level' keywords in your resume and on LinkedIn, so that when recruiters are searching for people who have lead a team, that somewhere in your resume it says that you've lead a team.

Beyond that, set up meetings with recruiters (even just a phone call) and explain that you're ready for leadership roles, and that you'd like them to send those opportunities to you.

Also, double check your reputation: you might not be getting calls for more senior roles because people don't think you can do it.
posted by Kololo at 6:15 PM on March 5, 2014

I think the position you are describing is often filled internally. "Lead developer" to me means someone at a senior skill level who also has enough experience in the company's systems and knowledge of the business that they can lead development efforts and help with project planning. It might be worth looking into landing a senior position in a company where you could position yourself to rise to a leadership role within a year.
posted by deathpanels at 6:39 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you have your linked in set to express interest in job opportunities? Many positions like this are filled either through networks or via recruiters, who often find people via linked in etc. Very few companies reach out directly to candidates for roles at this level. There's nothing wrong for applying to jobs that list "sr. frontend dev" and seeing where it goes; you may be surprised, and depending on where you are now, sr might actually be a step up in both salary and job spec than lead depending on the company. But I would definitely ask around for recruiters that your friends/colleagues know and work with them, a good recruiter is the best way to get placed without other contacts.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:45 PM on March 5, 2014

Response by poster: Do you have your linked in set to express interest in job opportunities?
Is there an easy way to do this? All I see from googling is a "job seeker badge" which seems to require a paid account. Or do you just mean typing textually, "Hey I'm looking?"

I am indeed mostly looking at senior level jobs at companies that have room for advancement. That is probably the route I will go; I just wanted to check if I was missing anything since my current title is already "Lead."

Anyway, thanks to everyone who took the time to answer in a constructive way and not include bizarre gratuitous insults about whether "people" think I can "do it."
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:58 PM on March 5, 2014

Hey, i work in your field. Movement can be very referral based. My advice wasn't gratuitous. If you're genuinely qualified, and it sounds like you are, and if you're present online where you should be (and it sounds like you are), it couldn't hurt to examine if reputation is the component that's holding you back. It's something you can do something about if you recognize it's a problem (and maybe it isn't!) There's no reason to take it as an insult.
posted by Kololo at 9:32 PM on March 5, 2014

in my world, lead WFE is a designer, usually UI/UX role, not a programmer role.
posted by k5.user at 8:30 AM on March 6, 2014

Adding to k5.user's comment - what specific type of work do you expect to do with jobs at the lead / architect level?

Do you want to work in UI/UX?
Do you want to call the shots and make recommendations to upper management or business on how to build an optimal Web site that may potentially need a single set of code that works across desktops, tablets and smartphones?
Or do you want to supervise and mentor a team of developers?

(Speaking as someone who is trying to move into Web development, but who finds the title "Web developer" to cover a wide range of jobs from just front-end, to full-stack... I've even seen back-end jobs advertised as simply "Web developer" on a job listing.)
posted by Tsukushi at 9:36 AM on March 6, 2014

There are two ways to transition into this role.

Developer -> developer team lead -> architect
Developer -> systems analyst / designer -> architect

Do you want to spend more time coding and coaching or more time designing?
posted by sid at 3:05 PM on March 6, 2014

Los Angeles is lousy with jobs for good developers. However, "frontend" really pigeonholes you into a certain expectation. Contracting jobs that come my way with "Frontend" in the description also come with a rate that is much, much lower than then just a regular web dev type job. I'd expect a frontend developer to either be a designer who's learned some HTML and JQuery, or a junior dev that would be working closely with the UI/UX team. Frontend Architect is practically an oxymoron.

If by "frontend" you mean "heavy on the JavaScript", I'd start calling yourself/look for a Sr. JS developer role. I'd then recommended either promoting yourself as an Backbone/Ember/Angular/etc developer, or I'd jump into one of those frameworks as soon as possible.

I'm a fullstack rails guy in LA and I get hounded by recruiters for JavaScript jobs 2-3 times a week. So, the jobs are there. Recruiters are probably just passing over what they (I assume) wrongly think is someone who just knows a little JQuery.
posted by sideshow at 7:07 PM on March 6, 2014

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