While many Japanese startups want only to hire experienced developers, Crowd Cast has made hiring junior developers a successful part of their hiring strategy. While less experienced developers come with their own set of challenges, Jeremy believes the benefits often outweigh them.
To start off with, their very lack of experience has its upsides. He said, “Junior developers start in a blank state. They can adopt the way of thinking we have in the company. Sometimes it is difficult when you hire senior developers, as some of them always think they know what’s best, and are not very open to discussion. So that’s something we don’t have to worry about with junior ones.”
Newly minted developers are also full of energy that they put towards their job. He said, “One challenge of junior developers is obviously we have to teach them a lot. But I have to say, bootcamps, they do a pretty good job, maybe not at making engineers, but making people very eager to become real engineers. Graduates of bootcamps will put ‘fullstack developer’ on their resume, but they know they need to actually have some work experience to actually deserve that job title. One of the benefits is that they really want to learn, so they put a lot of effort into their job.”
Hiring from bootcamps that match your tech stack can help turbocharge a junior’s growth. He said, “There are two bootcamps in Tokyo, Code Chrysalis and Le Wagon. I’m not sure about Code Chrysalis, but Le Wagon, they basically have the same stack as our product, so that’s very convenient. They know about Ruby on Rails when they arrive here, so they are very quick learners. Of course everyone makes progress at a different pace, but overall, it has been a very positive experience.”
From an economic perspective, junior developers can be a great deal. He said, “The challenge of juniors is we need to invest resources and time in them, but it’s almost an immediate payback, because when we hire them they are less expensive than experienced developers, and then they learn very quickly. At the beginning of the year we hired three junior developers. I have to say they are not junior anymore, and they are very independent developers who can take care of the platform.”
This isn’t to say they exclusively hire junior developers, as balancing the team with more senior developers is important too. He said, “A senior developer will be good as a reference for the more junior developers. The junior developers will come up with some ideas, but it would be good to have someone who has solved a similar issue before, and can say ‘your idea is good, but maybe if we do it slightly differently, it would be better’. Some things just come with experience.”
Crowd Cast’s willingness to consider more junior applicants has served them well, and hopefully more startups in Japan will be inspired by their success and move away from only hiring experienced candidates.