Over the last couple of years, I was privileged to work with many juniors. I have mentored, helped, hired, fired, consulted, read CVs, advised friends and colleagues on hiring juniors, and decided it’s time to write down my two cents on the topic.
This post is focused mostly on junior developers, but I’m sure its content can be relevant to other positions as well.
There are so many juniors out there. Every year we have thousands of new developers finishing their degrees, whether from universities or colleges and let’s not forget all of the bootcamps, online courses, and self-educated people who just go and learn online. We live in an era where most (if not all) of the learning material is just out there - waiting for people to consume it.
Juniors are eager to start their careers, but unfortunately, there aren’t many positions for people without any background, and most companies prefer to go with experienced employees (whether seniors or "junior with 2 years experience").
Whenever a new junior position is being published - there are so many candidates that send over their CVs. LinkedIn is one of the main resources for those publications - whether directly on the LinkedIn Jobs section, or posts that people share on their feed. But there are other places as well. Many juniors are members of groups that share those open positions - Telegram groups, WhatsApp groups, Facebook groups, and more. Many people volunteer to find and share new open positions in those groups - just to help other juniors start their journey.
Only 2-3 days, and already more than 200 candidates submitted their CVs to these positions.
With so many candidates it’s super hard for the managers who are in charge of the hiring process to actually go over each and every CV and give it enough attention. As a candidate - if you really want to be one of the few selected to continue the process - you must find a way to stand-out.
There are so many ways to make sure that your CV gets the right attention, but regardless of the design/colors/fonts/professional photo/cleanliness - here are a few things that can help you stand-out and make sure that your CV does not get skipped accidentally:
- LinkedIn profile is a must.
- Add some intro paragraph about yourself - what is the type of position you are after, what are your strengths, how would the company benefit from your experience if they take you.
- Make sure to include a link to your GitHub account.
- Have some interesting repositories in your GitHub account. Projects that you worked on (and not the standard "to-do list"; that is probably one of the most-common projects for juniors).
- A portfolio is great, if you can have one. Definitely not a must, but at the end of the day - you want to show that you are better than the other CVs in the pack, and a decent portfolio is indeed a way of showing that you are better.
Think of it this way - I’m hiring a junior, and I’m getting 200 CVs. Let's assume that half of them contain GitHub accounts, and the other half doesn’t. Unfortunately - I have only one position, and I must skim very quickly over all of those CVs. Whether it’s intentional or not - CV that does not contain a link to a GitHub account, where I can actually go and read some code - gets lower priority. Out of the half that does have GitHub accounts - I will be able to read some code and understand which is better and worth my time to actually call the candidate and check if we can move on to the next steps.
Eventually - you as a candidate should help the hiring person focus on your CV and move it up the stack. It’s your job to stand-out.
This question is something that you hear from so many managers. Assuming your company has enough money to hire only seniors - why would you hire juniors at all? It’s no secret that sometimes you hire juniors because their salary is lower. No one would say otherwise. But salary is not everything. There are many other reasons to hire juniors as well:
- Juniors have less experience, but they can come with fresh perspectives.
- Hiring juniors requires you to spend time on mentoring - which is good for everyone. You might have a small team and consider promoting someone to a team-lead - putting them developer in charge/mentor for 1-2 juniors (without officially giving a title) is a great way to check if it can work in the future.
- With great power comes great responsibility; you can (and should) make your team of juniors better with time - making you a better team lead/manager, in the process.
- Seniors are hard to find. It’s a fact. Hiring seniors is a long process and during that time - juniors can help you grow your business.
- Juniors are eager to show they are worth it. They are eager to learn and motivated to be part of the team and start working on "real world" problems.
- There are always tedious tasks. Even if way say that everything in our company is super interesting and nothing is boring - eventually - there will be something that our seniors will prefer not to do (and will be super interesting for a junior that never did it before).
Like every process - finding the right junior can take time. It's not only about finding the most brilliant one, or the one that has the best grades, but it's also about finding the one that you can motivate, mentor, direct and grow.
Cover photo by Ian Schneider @ unsplash