Just a year ago, the IT job market was as hot as ever. Recruiters bombarded professionals with offers, trying to lure them into skyrocketing salaries. Naturally, it was also easier for novice specialists since employers anticipated that the demand for personnel would only grow, so they were ready to invest in Juniors.
The demand exceeded the supply by many times, and businesses cooperated with universities and schools to hire motivated newcomers. Before the full-scale war started by Russians, there was a joke among IT recruiters that Juniors would soon be recruited from the kindergarten.
Dasha Parshina, HRBP at Kultprosvet
Now, because of the war in Ukraine and the global recession, the situation is different: there are fewer vacancies for junior positions. At the same time, the Ukrainian Government has launched a program for switchers, providing grants for educating specialists from different domains to acquire a new profession in IT. The workforce market is about to be flooded with motivated Juniors, therefore today we share our thoughts on when and why nurturing young professionals can be a better strategy than hiring experienced ones.
Hiring a senior person will bring experience, character, and a self-sufficient employee. They can, however, often be less flexible. With a junior person, on the other hand, you’ll get energy, motivation, fresh eyes, and a malleable personality that can grow with you. However, they require a lot of training and attention. Is it worth it? After years of experience in training software engineers at Kultprosvet school, we truly believe it is. Thoughtfully picked and diligently trained Juniors are a great asset at any point in the life-cycle of the company, as long as you have at least one Senior with 10% of their time booked for mentoring.
They are interested in doing things that more experienced colleagues are no longer interested in
Some tasks are so complex that only highly experienced folks can solve them. But most of the projects have routine day-to-day tasks which don’t need much expertise. For example: making a button round and colouring with CSS. Juniors can easily cope with these, and as they are interested in developing they will most definitely do a great job and free up the hands of Senior teammates for more challenging tasks.
If there are no interesting projects in the company, then experienced developers will quickly get bored, and one of the most common ways to deal with burnout at work is to change it. As a result, the Senior, found and recruited with such difficulty, will be lost.
Juniors are highly motivated and are usually bursting with energy
Juniors can afford to work extra hours or spend more time learning new things. In our experience, most juniors, even those who have meaningful activities other than work, such as family, sports, and studies, still work with great enthusiasm and give their best. And some, become quite senior in a few years. This, coupled with their relative cheapness, makes juniors especially attractive to startups.
We have great cases of growth within Kultprosvet teams. Like our Andrey, who applied to Kultprosvet school with a basic knowledge of CSS and HTML, and with persistence and mentoring ended up as a Team Lead in a huge fintech platform.
Klim Trakht, CTO at Kultprosvet
They naturally have a Beginner’s mind which can be beneficial in so many ways
Surprisingly, the reasons why juniors are rejected may make them useful for the project. While newbies usually don’t come with significant experience, they do come with a fresh perspective. They come with the ability to highlight weak spots and look at problems with a fresh pair of eyes, which can lead to great innovation. We foster that by encouraging feedback and voicing opinions, even if they are tough to hear.
Another good thing about Juniors is that they often do not yet know what they are interested in. They are still looking around, expanding their horizons, and exploring new technologies. And they try to drag the ideas they find into the project they are working on.
They study and they teach
Passing on the craft and educating the next generation is important in the long run. This is usually a mindset of product companies in which product knowledge is more important than technology knowledge. Yet any company benefits from developing mentoring and leadership skills among the Seniors and Team leads.
They are cost-efficient
If there is a mentoring resource within the team, Juniors while working slower than Middle Engineers still deliver good results. We did the math, and if you nurture one Junior (with full dedication to a project) he or she will become cost-efficient within a few months. And since career starters crave professional development and skill building, your investment in them is also likely to retain them.
At first glance, the search for an intelligent Junior is a marathon of interviews with dozens of inexperienced applicants. But if you filter candidates in advance by education, completed courses and, for example, questions on life position and commitment, you can select the most promising ones.
Imagine you select the best 5 out of 200. There is a high chance you get 3 super starts in 2 years if you know how to hire one. To learn how to hire juniors you need to start doing so.
Anton Trakht, CEO at Kultprosvet
If you have a well-established process on the project, then the integration of a new player into the team is painless. In our teams, each newbie is assigned to a formal mentor. The mentor’s responsibilities are setting and reviewing tasks, monitoring the training progress and helping out with all the logistics.
We start with small, well-defined tasks, such as tiny bug fixes, and gradually grow as all parties feel confident. During the first months, we make sure the tasks assigned are getting done and pay great attention to formal theoretical training. We dedicate time to review and training and then focus on how to improve the speed of delivery. Once we reach a steady pace it’s time to move up the ladder to more complex tasks.
Economic change and civil unpredictability are “new normal” factors, and it is hard to predict shifts between team roles today and tomorrow. But the economy is cyclical, and each downturn is usually followed by a period of prosperity. To ensure competitive advantage and long-term success, a downturn is prime time for investing in talent — some wise people from Business Harward Review say. We agree. People are the most important resource for the majority of businesses.
The reason why we praise juniors in this blog post is that we have great experience in growing some in the Kultprosvet team.
Look at Dasha, our HR Business Partner, who used to be an office administrator and then she insisted on leading the Kultprosvet School Project. The project brought dozens of great people to the team during the past 6 years.
Meet Andrey Babenko, who came to Kultprosvet School after self-learning CSS, and is now working as a Team Lead at Liquidity Group, a Unicorn fintech company.
We all once had been Juniors, and one day might be again. The beginner's mind, fresh perspective, persistence, and exploration are always beneficial for a business which aims high.
The IT workforce market in Ukraine is about to be flooded with hungry and enthusiastic newcomers, and this is the right time to hire them and reap the benefits in the next phase of market growth.