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Hiring Best Practices

3 Entry Level Talent Trends to Keep on Your Radar

Written By Dana Frederick | January 10, 2019


Looking for a more in-depth exploration of entry-level tech talent trends? Check out the recording of our webinar, How to Uplevel Your Entry Level Talent Hiring.

Technical student recruiting is a notoriously competitive field—after all, it’s not often that you find giants like Amazon, LinkedIn, and Facebook sourcing talent in the same career fair. And with a talent pool that changes season over season, keeping in tune with talent trends is the only way to stay competitive as an employer.

Based on our survey of over 10,000 student developers, we identified the 3 biggest student talent trends shaping university recruiting this year. For each trend, we’ve broken down the data behind them, plus ideas on how to leverage these trends to uplevel your next recruiting season.

Here’s what we found:

Trend: Students lag behind in hiring managers’ top 10 framework needs
Apply It: Set technical expectations with hiring managers + embed framework training into onboarding

Today’s student developers aren’t well versed in the frameworks employers need most. In fact, globally, they’re not prepared to meet even 1 of hiring managers’ top 10 framework needs. It means sourcing students with framework knowledge is challenging, at best:

So if your hiring manager is looking for proficiency in one of those frameworks, set expectations early. Determine their top technical priorities: Is framework expertise a top ask for junior candidates? Or is it something you can afford to de-prioritize for this talent pool? After all, looking only at student candidates with framework knowledge may shrink your options considerably; clarifying the challenge up front will ensure alignment once the new recruiting season starts.

And if you do choose to include students without framework knowledge, talk with your hiring manager about setting up training for new candidates.

Allocating budget in the onboarding process can help otherwise ideal candidates get acquainted with frameworks your team needs—there are plenty of online courses to get them up to speed with minimal time from the team. It may help improve your retention stats in the long run.

Trend: Globally, students aren’t prepared to meet JavaScript demand
Apply It: Incorporate sourcing from non-traditional majors, or even coding bootcamps

Globally, students aren’t prepared to meet employer JavaScript demand: while 48% of employers need JavaScript expertise, only 42% of students have it. It doesn’t mean that student JavaScript developers are impossible to find. That said, it does mean that they’re harder to find than student Python developers, for example.

Take a close look at the stack in the junior roles you’re recruiting for. If it has more front-end heavy asks like JavaScript, consider casting a net to include non-traditional majors beyond Computer Science (CS). After all, data from the Student Developer Report showed that students outside of CS and STEM are the most likely to know JavaScript:

And that skills gap isn’t limited to languages. As it turns out, we also see the same theme for frameworks—students in “Other” majors are most likely to have expertise in 4 of 5 of hiring managers’ top JavaScript framework asks:

What’s more: students that graduated from bootcamps know JavaScript better than any other student population. While not a traditional sourcing pool, they may be worth looking into for this technical ask:

It's not to say that CS students should be excluded altogether when sourcing for front-end talent. But expanding your search to non-traditional education backgrounds may help uncover hidden gems.

Trend: Students want professional growth more than anything else
Apply It: Highlight professional learning opportunities in your entry level talent branding

The data confirms what tech recruiters already know: students and professionals have different sets of job priorities. That’s especially true when it comes to opportunities for professional growth:

University recruiting is a job seeker’s market. Catch candidates’ attention by showcasing the job aspects they care about most. Embed growth-centric language in your messaging, from your career fair scripts to your job descriptions. Try weaving in power phrases like:

  • Growth opportunities
  • Mentorship
  • Experienced team
  • Professional development
  • Advancement
  • Training opportunities
  • Empowerment
  • Employee investment

And if professional growth isn’t your program’s strong suit, you can tailor your messaging to one of students’ other top asks. For example, you could focus on work-life balance, or interesting problems your team works to solve. If you’re not sure what to highlight, try our University Recruitment Power Messaging Worksheet. It can help narrow down your program’s strong suits, and provide some ideas on how to message for them.

Fine tuning your entry level talent program

How do you refresh your entry level talent program from year to year, or from season to season? Tell us in the comments below.

And if you’re interested in exploring more student hiring trends (and how to apply them), check out our University Recruiting Playbook:


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