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Why Hiring Juniors

Juniors
Hiring

23 February, 2021

Cody Kurz, Director of Engineering at 7shifts, outlines the pros and cons of hiring junior engineers.

Problem

Every spring, we hire a handful of juniors fresh out of university or trade school at the same time. Hiring four or five of them helps them develop an identity and build their own community around their experience of being hired on the same day. It makes onboarding and training easier because we can target all of them at once. However, hiring juniors is not all a bed of roses.
 

Actions taken

The pros

We identified multiple benefits of hiring juniors. Our approach of hiring several junior engineers only adds to the value. We would onboard them together, which reduces disruption to other teams, and then integrate them into the development teams. However, they would still have their buddy group to meet with regularly. Developing their own community would make the brand new company environment less scary, especially for those who never had any real job before. They would have several support layers -- HR, their development team, and buddy group -- and their problems would have fast resolutions.
 

Juniors are typically loyal and appreciate the time you invested in improving their skill set. By hiring juniors, we created an opportunity to grow people who will stay with the company for a longer period of time. Furthermore, they are easier to find and ask for less money. Out of a pool of five juniors, in most cases, one or two will end up becoming high performers with a fast career trajectory that can help level up the company.
 

The cons

Juniors’ output is less predictable, and most likely, they would have no idea how to approach solving a specific problem. We need to spend more time with them, especially in the planning stages. Also, they are also slower on the execution side, which is costing us our productivity.
 

The other downside is that when we hire juniors who never worked in the industry before, some regrettable hires will necessarily occur. We would have to evaluate them closely and eventually let some of them go because they wouldn’t be able to meet the expectations. However, that could erode the support and unity built around their buddy group, and once chopped up, their community will no longer serve its initial purpose.
 

Lessons learned

  • Juniors pay off. Over time, juniors end up adding significant value to the company. If you are willing and able to invest in them early on, subsequently, you will get quite large payouts.
  • Their freshness and vigor supply the industry with excitement and enthusiasm that propel it forward. They are also injected into the company culture and will affect people who have been with the company longer and become a bit jaded. Juniors can help revitalize people’s passion and make them more motivated.
  • A lot of senior engineers need juniors who they can mentor and teach. People like passing on knowledge, and bringing in a pool of juniors is a good way of encouraging your seniors to show what makes them experts in their domains.

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