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Here's Why You Need Junior Developers Your Team

You are making a mistake by overlooking the addition of junior developers to your teams. Junior developers are an integral part of your high-performing developer team. Please let this sink in. The tech leaders of the future are junior developers today. By the end of the article, I hope you agree that we need junior developers on our team. 

There are many reasons to explore that seem like reasons not to hire junior developers, and I want to debunk those reasons.

Myth #1:

Your project is so vital that you can't afford to waste time with less productive team members. It would help if you had more time and patience to make them valuable to your team.

Wrong: You need junior developers on your team to allow senior and lead developers to focus on critical tasks. Suppose you only have senior developers and above on your team. In that case, your productivity slows because of tasks your experienced developers use their time on that are better suited for junior developers. 

Myth #2:

Junior developers need to be more productive to justify their salaries. Using an offshoring model, you could hire more experienced developers for lower costs than an in-house developer model.

Wrong: We must recognize that lower-cost labor offshore can allow you to do more work due to a larger team size than a small team of experienced in-house developers. However, is your offshore team better than an in-house mix of experienced and junior developers? Using an offshore model successfully depends on several factors, and I'm only adding a subset of them here.

Did you hire the best experienced offshore developers, or did you not get a productive offshore team? Suppose your time estimates for tasks must be corrected every sprint, or you are consistently re-working tasks when the developer does not satisfy requirements. In that case, the team you are paying for is more expensive than you think, and hiring an in-house team is a better choice. Did you hire self-starter developers who can do the work you need without taking time away from your in-house time? Spending time to correct features because of requirements clarity or language and cultural differences is expensive. When you hire an offshore team, you expect productivity on day one. You would only invest in offshore developers to learn on your dime when these developers will be with you long-term. Their role is to be productive for the period while on your team and then move on to the next project. 

However, it does make sense to invest in junior developers. Your investment in junior developers will reward you with skill and productivity gains because junior developers want to be on your team and prove they can be valuable members. Your in-house team has motivation and values aligned with the company to build the best products. All too often, hiring the wrong offshore developers means your cost savings are gone and could prove more expensive in the long run. 

Myth #3:

You are too small a team to hire junior developers, so hiring junior developers should be left to larger companies.

Wrong: You could hire two highly motivated junior developers who are just as productive as a more experienced developer who feels overworked and looking for a role at a new company because there are enough developers to shoulder the load. Hiring junior developers provides help for experienced developers. It signals to the team that you are willing to help them with additional developers for whom they can offload tasks and monitor and develop to be even more helpful to the team.

Still not convinced? Look at junior developers under past, present, and future considerations.

Past: You started as a junior developer, and look at you now. You're a leader, a decision-maker, and highly productive; you didn't do it overnight. Someone gave you a chance, and you killed it. Don't you owe the ones who come after you an opportunity to do the same?

Present: We have many junior developers around us that we can use today to make our projects successful. We are just looking at three myths debunked above and other reasons not mentioned. You have the opportunity to teach developers who have not learned bad habits to do tasks the right way and become valuable members of the team at lower salaries, rather than hiring an experienced developer who has some bad habits that affect the team and could slow getting new features or products to market.

Future: With an investment today, we will not have tech leaders to drive and guide innovation tomorrow. It's not a problem for other companies to solve; it's everyone's problem. We owe it to junior developers to invest and train them to be even more productive members of our teams than when they join our teams. After all, you are not developing them from scratch. You are working with developers with talent and promise that you unlock and allow them to skyrocket.

Please consider these thoughts and angles to help you justify hiring junior developers. As a bonus point, I will leave you with one last angle. In many cases, we promote experienced developers into positions of leadership without training and preparing them to lead. Promoting without preparing can be a recipe for disaster. You are taking your best developers and adding to their job description to lead other developers and to stop doing the work they love and for which made them the most valued members of the team. An alternative to setting new leaders up to fail is to have them lead junior developers and hone skills that will allow them to be successful leaders when asked to take on leadership and managerial roles.

My thoughts are my thoughts. If you can't help but disagree with all of this, reach out or comment on your reasons for disputing my claims. And if you agree but feel that something was left out, please add those comments so that all of us can benefit.

If you found this post helpful, please consider liking and following me. With over 20 years in tech, from developer to CTO, I’ve navigated numerous startup challenges and understand the hurdles you may face. I’m here to offer real, actionable solutions if you’re a startup founder, solopreneur, or developer seeking guidance. You can find me on social media.

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