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Hiring Best Practices

How To Attract, Hire, and Retain Junior Developers

Written By Jannelle Sanchez | October 16, 2019

Illustration of a student wearing a backpack, and working on a laptop

Every company is trying to hire the best tech talent, and for some companies, the best developers are senior developers. But junior developers have all the key ingredients of a quality hire.

Hiring junior developers is a successful recruiting strategy that more companies are implementing. This year Twilio increased its early-career hires from 5% to 25%. Why? Because junior developers are eager to learn, they will give their 100% on projects and they have the capacity to grow into your strongest and most loyal developers. 

If you're interested in hiring junior developers, use these 4 tips to hire some of tech's most promising talent.

Offer mentorship to junior developers

Illustration of 2 smiling people working on a laptop with speech bubbles next to each of them

You can’t win young developers over with your company’s snack closet or foosball table. Today's junior developers are serious about their professional growth and they deeply care about close mentorship and weekly check-ins.
A new study shows that Generation Z and Millennial employees work best when their company provides a professional mentor. Shane Metcalf, the Chief Culture Officer of 15Five, says that routine 1-on-1’s are crucial to young employees because they create a strong human connection and a culture of trust.
To attract and retain junior developers, work with your engineer managers to create a culture of mentorship. Establish 1:1 weekly check-ins to review projects, personal professional goals, and provide feedback. If your hiring manager is worried about the use of time, place a 10-minute cap on the weekly check-ins. Sixty-seven percent of Gen Z employees are satisfied with brief, 5-minute check-ins.

Map out the path of professional growth in your job description

Illustration of a man standing on a giant map

According to the Student Developer Report, junior developers want to work for companies that offer professional growth and learning. Companies that offer competitive compensation may snag a couple talented junior developers at first. But if companies don’t provide professional growth resources where junior developers can improve their skills, developers will grow bored and move on.

If your company promotes from within or you have professional growth resources like boot camps or mentorship programs, list them in your junior developer job description. And if your company hasn’t mapped out a professional growth path for its developers, plan one out for reach role. Developers are naturally passionate about learning and will stick with a company that invests in its employees.

Put your candidates first in the interview process

Creating a candidate first hiring process is the key to winning over junior developers and it starts at the job description.  According to our 2019 Developer Skills Report, an unclear role description is a major interview faux pas that turns developers off. As soon as a junior developer detects that an employer doesn't have a specific project or path for them in mind, they’ll reconsider the role.

A poor interview process is another major turnoff for junior developers. If a junior software engineer or junior data scientist candidate has a negative interview experience, they are less likely to accept the offer. If they have a positive interview experience, there’s an 87.5% chance of them accepting the offer.

So record when your potential candidates drop off in the interview process. Is it after they meet team members and ask questions about past and current projects? Or is it after your first phone screen, when you explain what daily tasks this role requires? After you determine where in the interview process candidates stop returning your calls, you can reassess with the hiring manager to align on role expectations, responsibilities, and its long-term growth path.

Offer interview prep materials

Illustration of a resume to the left of a laptop with bubbles reading "CMS", "PHP", "C++" etc. emanating from its screen

Give junior developers a positive candidate experience by properly preparing them for the interview. According to the 2019 Women in Tech Report, 47% of Gen Z women developers and 45% Gen Z men developers don’t like showing up to an interview unprepared.  Recruiters that don’t outline what the candidate should expect in the interview process are creating a poor candidate experience.

So make your company stand out from the rest. Send out interview prep materials to help candidates practice their soft skills and technical skills. This Ted Talk is a great resource for entry-level developers who want to hone their communication skills. For the technical side of the interview, send your candidates to the HackerRank Interview Preparation Kit.

Tying it all together

Junior developers are qualified candidates that more companies are starting to notice, recruit and hire. By offering mentorship, mapping out their professional growth, creating a candidate first process, and offering interview prep materials, you can attract, hire and retain the right junior developers for your company.

For more ideas on where to find quality junior developers, check out our 2019 University Ranking Guide.

HackerRank and EY blog post on Optimizing Hiring

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