The number of web developers is growing each day, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 20% growth rate for the occupation in the U.S. alone. New developers are entering the workforce at a fast pace, but many may lack the leadership skills or interview techniques needed to get their foot in the door for their first job – something well-seasoned developers have mastered earlier in their career.
What can you as an organization do to help effectively hire and onboard developers, especially junior developers?
When looking for junior-level talent, you won’t necessarily be able to look at their previous work experience, since they probably don’t have any. You can instead look into any internships they completed, part-time work that is technology-related or side projects they’ve taken on themselves (such as building their own app or website). Ask them what industry blogs they read, why they are interested in the industry and where they see themselves in 5 years career-wise. These questions can help you get a sense of their enthusiasm and drive.
It’s also important to evaluate their programming and coding skills, since these are essential to hiring any programmer. Entry-level developers may not have the fancy portfolio or stellar interviewing skills as senior-level devs, but this will come with help (with the proper training, of course). There are amazing resources available on the web, including everything from Lynda to Learn X in Y Minutes.
You’ve chosen your ideal candidate and they’ve accepted the offer—great! Don’t make the mistake of just throwing them into their job without any sort of strategy or thought. Instead, take some time to properly onboard them to ensure they make a smooth transition into the role. Providing junior-level developers with the support, mentorships, resources and training they need to be successful can really pay off for both the employee and the employer.
A few easy ways for employees to start effectively onboarding developers is to set them up with a “mentor” (a senior-level developer who they can come to for advice), provide them with up-to-date documentation of processes and tech tools, or even enroll them in an external boot camp. Shadowing or pair programming, a method of teaching someone an existing codebase or new technology, is also a great option. To take it one step further, tech teams could put together an onboarding document, full of notes and common questions that new developers face. Having this be an ongoing, editable document for new employees to add to could be helpful.
Whether your company is equipped with the tools and resources needed to support entry-level technical hires, there are plenty of ways you can give back to help the developer community. At Stack Exchange, we’re teaming up with several other startups to attack the skills gap that sometimes prevents junior-level developers from succeeding in their first technology jobs with a new program called Beyond Coding. This free 10-week summer course gives emerging computer programmers in New York City the professional skills needed to help them success in their first junior-level role. The curriculum of Beyond Coding is designed to accelerate the learning curve among new programmers by addressing skills gaps that employers often see when hiring junior level technical talent. While this is just one example of a supplemental program that may contribute to your new hire’s success, many more exist all over the world.