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Post by Rich Moy on Sep 25, 2017 12:00:00 PM

How do you define a “Junior” Developer? Is it by the amount of experience they have? Does a developer’s age indicate seniority? Do you assign this title to developers at lower salary tiers? We didn’t have a definitive answer, either. So we asked a few developers and engineering managers for their thoughts—and we quickly learned that the answers to the questions above don’t accurately describe their less-tenured teammates. 

So, what is the profile of a Junior Developer? This post will walk you through some of the best answers we heard to that difficult question.

Clearly-Defined Responsibilities and Autonomy at Work

Everyone we spoke to agreed that junior web developers shouldn’t be held to the same expectations as the senior members of the team. But does that mean they should only handle tasks like one-off fixes and bug duty? Not quite.

Jason Parks, Director of Application Development at The Media Captain, told us that their contributions can still have an enormous impact on critical projects. “They’re often mentored by senior developers,” he says. “But they should still have the ability to diagnose issues and maintain code.”

Kinjal Dua, a Mobile App Developer at Clearbridge Mobile, agrees. “Senior Developers have more experience and can identify problems faster,” Dua said. “But junior-level programmers also have a good sense of what the problem is and how they can fix it, even if it takes them a little bit longer.”

Exhibits Resourcefulness and Ability to Complete Defined Tasks

Since they require a little extra supervision, junior web developers are always waiting for instructions, right? According to the people we spoke to, the ones you’ll want to hire will find ways to get their work done without being told to do so.

Tom Kleingers, the owner of Evanston Avenue, says that junior-level programmers often exhibit resourcefulness and ownership over their tasks, especially when they don’t have all the answers. “The best ones find solutions to issues by using the tools at their disposal, with Stack Overflow being a great one” he adds. “In many cases, talented junior programmers can often close more stories in a given sprint, since they get to spend more time coding.”

Possesses a Desire and Willingness to Learn

When you’re hiring junior-level programmers, you should look for two traits. First, they need to know that they have a lot to learn. But more importantly, an enthusiasm for the learning they’ll need to do.

Marko Anastasov, Co-Founder of SemaphoreCI.com, argues that the best junior-level candidates are always in the mindset of learning. “They proactively seek out feedback and advice on next steps in their learning journey,” Anastasov says. “They’ve also mastered the basics of communicating the current status of work in assigned tasks, and know when to ask for more work.”

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