"Our job descriptions demand several years of experience.
We wanted to hire seniors. But we don't have the budget to compete with these crazy salaries that companies are paying. Our funnel was empty.
Now we're hiring juniors instead, and it's going well for us."
This is the case for many Startups and SMEs these days.
Salaries have increased massively in recent years for tech workers. And these companies simply cannot compete for top-tier or even mid-tier talent.
I'm hearing some success stories of teams composed mostly of juniors.
1. Not All Juniors Are Alike
- A fresher from college is a junior
- A code bootcamp graduate is a junior
- A self taught dev who's been freelancing for a couple years is a junior
But they are all different profiles. It's important to clarify target skills and personality.
2. Invest in Onboarding Materials
Juniors won't simply "figure it out", they need more hand holding. In contrast, you should prepare onboarding instructions that include:
- Clear expectations for the role
- A checklist of items to complete in the first month
- A tutorial for each of those items
3. Invest in Learning Materials (On Top of Onboarding)
Some of these juniors might not have a sufficient level of knowledge in the tools you need them to work with.
You might need to accelerate their ramp up by having some skill based learning materials for them. This could be:
- A collection of links from the web that save them search time
- A few reference tutorials on those technologies
- A @udemy course on a required skill
- A partnership with a bootcamp or other institution to teach them certain skills
I've seen all of them work.
4. Senior Engineers Become Mentors
This strategy changes the shape of the Engineering team.
It's unrealistic to assume that existing Senior Engineers will continue having much bandwidth to be individual contributors. They won't be shipping as much code as before.
They'll become mentors, and will leverage their senior knowledge to teach these juniors hired for their team.
These are a few ways to transfer knowledge:
- Producing the materials mentioned above
- Onboarding support
- Pair programming
- Code reviews
- Run post mortems
5. Ask for Referrals
Every junior is a person with unique traits.
Ask around for referrals to top performing juniors. Explain the profile you're searching.
Some CTOs have high achieving juniors in their teams, but can't offer them growth opportunities. They might refer to you.
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