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Will you hire a candidate who does not have a background in coding?

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Suppose your company works in the web development: will you hire a candidate in your company who does not have a background in programming or development, not created any project but WANTS to work in this field? They have some theoretical knowledge of computer science, and have high marks on all other soft skills, but if you hire you have to teach them from the basics of development. What are the pros/cons to hiring this kind of candidate?

Discussion (22)

itscasey profile image
Casey 💎

I think this question is a bit odd because no background and no experience are different.

Would I hire a web developer with no experience? No.

Would I hire a web developer with without a background in CS or programming Yes.

I don't think any skilled jobs will hire anyone without experience. If you've built some projects, contributed to open source, or created learning materials for others I'd definitely consider interviewing and hiring.

If you're in a position where you want to become an engineer but your background is unrelated, make your own experience.

j4ng5y profile image
Jordan Gregory

With no development experience at all, I would not hire this person. You don't have to be an expert in your language of choice, but the candidate should have at least spent some time trying to build things. I've personally been burned by hiring someone based on my perception that they could learn something in a reasonable amount of time. Not only did they not learn the job, but the ended up being incredibly toxic to the team.

nombrekeff profile image

I would not, but that depends on the onboarding you do on the company. It takes time and effort to get the person to a level were they would be helpful. If you have more developers already doing the required work and want to spend a bit of time teaching the new person go for it.

kevinpeckham profile image
Kevin Peckham

I have done so repeatedly with various roles and would do so again.

I’ve had great success with new hires who are changing careers and lack any directly relevant experience or formal training.

My criteria is they must impress me that they are passionate and self-motivated and have spent at
least a year in self-directed or guided study in web development or another closely related programming niche. Typically this means they’ve logged a lot of hours on the weekend or nights after their day job, learning as much as they can with the clear goal in mind of jumping careers.

Likewise their existing experience or training is something I look at closely, even if is an unrelated field. For someone who knows how to thrive and keep learning and refining their skills In one field can often translate that to another.

And of course I wouldn’t hire them without a plan on how we will continue training them, and where we expect them to get to in terms of benchmarks in the next year.

It also don’t believe that project work is enough to train this type of hire, so in the first year we set aside 30% of their work hours for professional development in the form of self-guided learning, tutorials and classes.

It is a big commitment of resources to take on someone with no experience so it isn’t something we take on lightly. And it is not a highly paid starting salary as we are not going to get a lot of quality billable hours out of this person in the beginning.

But it is an investment, and one that has paid off for us repeatedly as career-switchers have proven to be among the best employees we’ve ever hired.

I should also point out that I am someone who didn’t study programming or design or start working in web design / application development until I was in my late twenties. So I can appreciate the challenges and the opportunities involved.

webbureaucrat profile image

You say "yes" but I don't think your answer really matches the question. Have you ever hired someone with just some theoretical knowledge and high marks in soft skills? I would expect anyone with at least a year of study of programming to have a lot more to show for it than some theoretical knowledge.

kevinpeckham profile image
Kevin Peckham

Yes, I have hired people with no built work to show. No, imagine I’ve never hired anyone who couldn’t demonstrate some practical knowledge (not just theoretical).

However I would encourage anyone in this position to get some practical experience however they can. Go build some things. It will be a much easier path into a better job, with work to show.

marinsborg profile image

The problem with this is that it takes somebody's time to teach. And that means you are paying 2 people to NOT being productive at the moment.
However, many companies do internships where they have dedicated part-time mentors which guide interns in day to day job. But it would be a good idea that intern already have some programming knowledge

joelbonetr profile image

It also requires the newcomer to put effort in learning and sometimes that does not happen.

nickytonline profile image
Nick Taylor

I would. It brings a different perspective and a lot of folks coming from different backgrounds bring a lot of skills with them. Coding is only one part of the job. You might enjoy this DEV stream I did with a bunch of career changers.

stevenmcgown profile image

I am not an employer but if I was, I would like to see some sort of projects, blog posts, video tutorials, etc. You've got to remember that others with qualifications also want to work in the field. Training can take a lot of time and employers like to see that you can take on projects and learn things by yourself.

I actually had to break into a computing field myself. Coming out of college, I knew nothing about DevOps. Many people with DevOps roles have had a bit of experience in a company before. I had a degree in computing, but the thing that helped me stand out from other candidates in interviews was my blog posts and projects.

If you want a job in web design, I would strongly recommend that you have some sort projects in web design. From what I understand, HR and upper management like to see certifications while the people you will work with care about your tenacity. Most resumes aren't read by an actual person until after they are filtered by keywords.

Again, I'm not an employer so my point of view is heavily influenced by my own experience. I wish whoever is reading these the best of luck in your search :)

sheikh_ishaan profile image
Ishaan Sheikh

If your company have a dedicated trainer and do not require urgent resource, then Yes, you should give him/her a chance to prove themselves. If your company requires a urgent resource who can handle client projects in 1-2 months, then please do not hire since you are going to waste your time as well as demotivate the candidate if he is not able to perform (no body can learn programming in 1-2 months for live projects).

emil profile image

No one would hire a coder for surgery. Why then the other way around

chrdek profile image

In such a case, I believe that if you already have a successful product and a couple of other projects in your company with a decent development team, you can always open up an internship position (with pre-requisite of course no previous experience) so you can find an appropriate candidate.

There would be no pros to hiring IMO at the beginning but iDEs and programming languages are so advanced nowadays that anyone who is computer literate and at a level can be helpful depending on your environment.

Note: The candidate needs to be computer literate and at a good point though before hiring.

jeremyf profile image
Jeremy Friesen

At my first job they didn't necessarily hire programmers but instead, as part of the interview, you had to take a logic test. They provided some training on the job.

But, that was 24 years ago. If someone applied because they wanted to learn the basics, I'd be hard pressed to move them to the first stage of interviewing.

With all of that said, if you are interested in a career in software development but are starting from "the beginning" reach out to some folks in tech for an information gethering interview. Learn what they are looking for in entry level positions, learn what that day to day looks like, and then begin taking some of those steps.

The risk of hiring someone who wants to work in the field but has no field experience is high. My advice is to look at ways to get onto this vast field of tech work/learning.

ravavyr profile image

considering it only takes maybe 6 months to learn the basics for any particular language or platform in this industry, it would mean this person has no real interest in the work, or just wants someone to hold their hand through the start of it.

I would not hire them, as they would only slow down the team and we don't even know if they'll enjoy the work, want to do it longterm, or even if they have the mentality and skillset to become good enough at it to keep them in the longterm.

It makes zero sense when you have a million free resources to learn from online nowadays.

mistval profile image

No, if they have no experience with programming, I would not consider hiring them as a programmer. I would suggest they practice and build some projects in their free time to learn the ropes, and apply again once they can demonstrate skill in programming.

koas profile image

I wouldn't if the position is a coding position, but a positive attitude towards development could be very useful in other positions like QA or doc writing.

jsn1nj4 profile image
Elliot Derhay

And there's always the possibility of pivoting later

danilovmy profile image
Maxim Danilov

Yes. I already have a djunior developer, Martin. He's from sports. He studied sports management at school. The main problem is algorithms. So far he can't write the code for the task himself. But he can clean up the code, organize modules and TD. And little by little he is learning. But it is very slow. In a year and a half he still hasn't written Dijkstra's algorithm himself.

nsijwali profile image
Nitin Sijwali

I have a background in mechanical and automation engineering and am currently employed by Lowe's as a React.Js frontend developer. So I got a college placement at Infosys Ltd (India's second largest consulting firm). They taught us everything from basic to advanced programming on multiple tech stacks. I now have nearly 6 years of coding experience. Companies believe in candidates regardless of their coding experience. They believed in me, and I would do the same.

natescode profile image
Nathan Hedglin

For software development? Absolutely not. For some other role that they could transition TO software, sure.

I already work with enough "programmers" that can't think or code Fizz Buzz.

gochev profile image
Nayden Gochev • Edited on

Yes. No coding experienceis actually a good thing. I can educate him the proper way :)