“Are you hiring Juniors?”

The Secret to Sustainably Building a Team

Jim Remsik
By Jim Remsik
April 01, 2024

During a recent visit to Chicago, I met up with a friend for coffee who asked me a seemingly straightforward question about my business: “Are you hiring juniors?” Despite its simplicity, I found myself hesitating with the response. Reflecting on my own career journey, I understand the immense value of being given a chance to learn and be mentored. It’s clear to me that nurturing new talent is essential for the development of a skilled and versatile workforce in the future.

The folks on our team span a wide range of experience levels, from 1 to 20+ years, which might imply a straightforward, “Yes, we do hire juniors.” However, the question “Are we hiring juniors?” suggests a current, active search for new talent. While we’re always open to discovering individuals with potential, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re actively hiring at this moment.

The hesitation in my response was due to the depth and complexity hidden behind what appeared to be a simple question. It wasn’t a trick question, but it lacked the context needed for a clear answer. We take into account such things as the specific skills or roles we’re looking for, our history of hiring and integrating juniors into these positions, the support system available for their growth, and whether we have work that suits their skillset are all crucial.

The term “Junior” itself is quite ambiguous. It could refer to any number of developers—from those fresh to the industry, to professionals who are the least experienced on their team. A broad application of the term complicates the hiring conversation.

Likewise, the “Senior” role suffers from a lack of standardized definition, allowing some with as little as two years of experience to adopt the title regardless of whether they meet a specific need or set of requirements. This variability in titles illustrates that relying solely on them can be misleading.

Measuring capability and readiness for a role based solely on years of experience is inadequate. Not all experiences are equal; spending years performing the same tasks does not necessarily equate to meaningful growth or the acquisition of new skills, while a so-called “junior” with two years of relevant experience might be more successful in helping us solve the business problems of our clients. This inconsistency often leaves individuals unsure of their exact standing as juniors or seniors.

Asking if we’re hiring juniors is similar to asking if one needs water—an essential need yet highly context-dependent. Right now? No, I have a four hour drive ahead of me and I just had several cups of coffee. The last thing that I need is water, until the next time I need it. Just as my immediate need for water varies, so does our need to hire juniors, influenced by timing, current team dynamics, and project requirements.

When you’re building a team, hiring a complete team of only experienced people can seem very attractive. It requires intentionality to ensure you don’t wind up with a team that spends as much time butting-heads as collaboratively moving towards shared goals. Similarly, hiring a bunch of inexpensive folks to help out looks great on paper. Your best bet is to build a team with an array of experience and set up intentional frameworks for leadership and mentorship that allow everyone to succeed.

If you’re looking for a team to help you discover the right thing to build and help you build it, get in touch.