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Dekel
Dekel

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Let’s Talk About Juniors

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").

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Photo by @debbieducic

Open Positions

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.

Check out these job ads on LinkedIn:
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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.

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Photo by @geralt

Standing Out as a Junior Developer

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:

  1. LinkedIn profile is a must.
  2. 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.
  3. Make sure to include a link to your GitHub account.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.

Why put so much attention to the CV?

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Photo by @brandsandpeople

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.

What Are The Benefits in Hiring Juniors?

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:

  1. Juniors have less experience, but they can come with fresh perspectives.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).

Finding The Right One

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.

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Photo by @benjaminsweet


Cover photo by Ian Schneider @ unsplash

Discussion (36)

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mayaliberman1 profile image
maya liberman

Great post! I loved it. I have a question regarding the recommendation of donating your time as a junior developer to open sources. Is it something that catches an eye of a recruiter or a team leader or just a myth? Also do you recommend to put a list of significant projects with some explanations in the CV or just refer to the general GitHub account?

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christiankozalla profile image
Christian Kozalla

I like this post, too, since I am looking for a junior role right now.

Regarding you question about a list of significant projects in the CV: I have made my CV as a single HTML file and hosted on GitHub pages. So, I can easily share the link, plus, updates I make after sharing the link are still propagated.

I decided to include a detailed list of my projects to make them stand out.

I've noticed that interviewers look at my CV during the interview as a reference to ask questions and discuss my experience. So, I'd definitely make projects stand out somehow. 👍

Here's the link to my CV
christiankozalla.github.io/CV

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dekel profile image
Dekel Author

Thanks @christiankozalla !
I really like your CV and the fact that you made it as a github-pages gives you more points, imho.

Asking questions about past experience (the projects that a candidate worked on, even if they are personal projects) is a great way to understand the experience of that candidate, how much "copy&paste" they did and how well they actually understand what they are doing.

Good like finding your next job!

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mahfuz profile image
Mahfuzur Rahman

nice cv

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realnerdethan profile image
Ethan Goddard

I really like the online CV. It's very clean and pleasant to look at. Also has some great information on there. I might have been inspired to make one for myself! :)

Thread Thread
christiankozalla profile image
Christian Kozalla

Awesome! Glad to hear you like it 😀

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sgolovine profile image
Sunny Golovine

Is it something that catches an eye of a recruiter or a team leader or just a myth?

It helps you stand out for sure. It shows that you can work inside a codebase that isn't your own. It also shows that you have a grasp of how to contribute code, one of the first things I have to teach Jr's out of college is how to use Git, Github and the PR process.

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dekel profile image
Dekel Author

Thanks @mayaliberman1 !

I have a question regarding the recommendation of donating your time as a junior developer to open sources. Is it something that catches an eye of a recruiter or a team leader or just a myth?

Definitely something that a good recruiter will take into consideration, however keep in mind that it's the candidate's responsibility to make sure this information is emphasized enough.
If there is only a link to the github account - no one can promise that the recruiter will actually check it/understand that it's important. I would suggest the candidate to emphasize the fact that they contribute to open-source project - for example, add a link to the issues/prs that they contributed.

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dominikbraun profile image
Dominik Braun

And most importantly, be honest about your skills. Don't put every single language and technology on your CV just because you tried it out. Even though interviews for Junior positions aren't that rough, the Senior Engineers interviewing you will find out.

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dekel profile image
Dekel Author

I completely agree with you here!

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mahfuz profile image
Mahfuzur Rahman

Hi,
@dekel

I'm a Business student but trying hard to become a web-developer...It would be much helpfull if you suggest me if i should build a portfolio now or should i concentrat on Learning for now?

my github link...github.com/coder-mahfuz

these are just some THE ODINE PROJECT assignments

thanks

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dekel profile image
Dekel Author

You should definitely focus on learning, however building a portfolio can be part of it. Take the time to build your own portfolio, and you can show there what you know.

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mahfuz profile image
Mahfuzur Rahman

thanks a lot dekel

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dekel profile image
Dekel Author

Any tips on hiring juniors? Do you think I missed some tips on how to make sure you stand-out? Please share. I would love to hear it!

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angeluchh profile image
Angel Rodríguez

Excellent article!!! And the conclusion was straight to the point .. I had not found an answer of which one was the one .. :) Now I know that it goes beyond proving to be the best, but learning how to guide us ...

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aakatev profile image
Artem

Hiring juniors can work really well if a team has strong mentors among their seniors.

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dekel profile image
Dekel Author

Strong mentors can help and provide good guidance to juniors, and if some junior ask me for an advice to decide between two companies, usually I'm trying to understand which company will provide a better mentoring and guidance.

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grifano profile image
Serhii

Thank you Denkel😉 It very helpful for me. And I was wandering, is that good way to show on GitHub all your history of learning, or it’s better to save just a most amazing project?

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dekel profile image
Dekel Author

You can share the history. There are multiple ways to do this - either with one repository or multiple and have one with links (in README.md) to the others.

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rephidimc profile image
Victor Adeleke Afolayan

Great post.
beautifully written.

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mgiannopoulos profile image
Markos Giannopoulos

Good summary! 👍

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dekel profile image
Dekel Author

Thank you @mgiannopoulos !

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codecustard profile image
Emmanuel Barroga

Great advice, thanks for sharing!

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dekel profile image
Dekel Author

Thanks @codecustard !
If you have some tips or things you would like to read more about - please share :-)

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rishitkhandelwal profile image
Rishit Khandelwal

a great read 🙂

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dekel profile image
Dekel Author

Thanks @rishitkhandelwal ! Appreciate your reply here.

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timocmd2 profile image
Timo Sarkar

Awesome. This will surely help me stand out!

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dekel profile image
Dekel Author

Thanks @timocmd2 !

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saimhafeez20 profile image
Saim Hafeez

Loved it!!

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dekel profile image
Dekel Author

Thanks @saimhafeez20 ! Appreciate your help reply.

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oryam profile image
Oryam

Thank you for this post.
Well written.

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dekel profile image
Dekel Author

Thanks @oryam !

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buntyrathod profile image
Bunty Rathod

Nice post! Very helpful for both juniors and seniors

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dekel profile image
Dekel Author

Thanks @buntyrathod !

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ntdat profile image
Nguyen Tien Dat

oh hi