How to work with juniors?
The talk will be Serge Popov , CEO League A. and Director of Talents at HTML Academy. In League A., work with juniors is on the line: half of the front-end companies are graduates of HTML Academy. Graduates come to the company for an internship, where they help them develop, and 95% of those who seek other work after an internship are employed.
For more than 3 years, Seryozha has been playing the role of a mentor for junior front-end providers and has learned to work with them so that newcomers quickly grow up to cool specialists and benefit the company. He shared the nuances, principles, rules and secrets of work in a report at TeamLead Conf 2020, and we decrypted it.
In addition to the cycle “give a task, check, help”, juniors need to: respect, remind, control, think what to say, set tasks correctly, help develop, point out mistakes, but explain, be lenient and cheer, teach others how to work with juniors, think over the tone of feedback...
I will tell you about these and other principles and rules of working with juniors in detail and in order. These principles can be useful not only in working with June, but in general, with candidates who want to find a job in your company.
Why do we need juniors
Before I talk about working with beginners, I’ll tell you why they are needed at all. There are several reasons (or problems in the market).
If a simple task at a price of 1000 rubles is performed by a person at a rate of 2500 rubles per hour, something went wrong. Therefore, here you can not do without juniors - they reduce the cost of production (products, software).
Personnel Famine . In my experience, the problem of staff shortages is less pronounced for food companies, although every year it becomes more acute. But in the non-food segment, for example, in digital, hunger is, and there is a lot of it. They need cheaper specialists, but when they grow up, they go to the place where they pay more. Juniors cover the need for low-cost developers.
Management Skills Development . When I communicate with experienced leaders, I often hear tips in the style of "Have a child" or "Read books about parenting." The reason is that juniors are like children, and managing serious adult people who write code is quite simple - they often themselves know what to do and how to work. Juniors are like children - after working with them, no middle will cause you problems.
Cultivating Strong Professionals . I talk a lot with representatives of different companies and often hear that it’s easier to grow a specialist inside than to find a developer on the market. When I was looking for a team lead, at some point I was so desperate that I thought: “It's easier to give birth to a child and raise a team lead from him.” But this is a long time - you have to wait 18 years before I get him a job.
In order not to wait so much, they experimentally developed in League A. an “instruction” on how to help a junior grow in a company so that it would not be excruciatingly painful. The “instructions” have several stages, the first of which is preparation.
To prepare, make sure you have formed tasks and mentor .
Formed tasks are important (or understanding how to form them), because a junior is an employee.He is not a talisman who walks around the office and encourages everyone, but an employee who must work and perform tasks.
Junior can do something simple:
- modifications to the finished components;
- creating simple components;
- work according to instructions or documentation.
The guys who come to us do simple things: make changes or collect pages using the UI-kit. Then they grow and perform tasks more difficult, for example, write simple logic.
When a junior works on tasks, he needs a mentor - a mentor. In 2018, I participated in the PC FrontendConf . One of the good reports, which did not enter the program due to high competition, was called "What if I got a june?" This is the feeling that occurs in the middle, when they try to throw mentoring on him. When the mentoring is imposed against the will of the employee, no one will be satisfied. It is important to discuss everything in advance and appoint a person who will be ready for the load.
Junior is not middle . He cannot be tasked with a deadline in a month - he will not do it. Junior needs to be constantly monitored. For this, we need a mentor who helps to complete the tasks to the end.
- Helps to set up the environment, because the junior will not understand how the employee did before him.
- Defines and formulates the problem.
- Will appreciate how and when the junior will do it.
- Set the task.
- Answers clarifying questions and directs to a solution.
- Evaluate the quality of execution and understand that a person is growing.
According to these characteristics, the mentor should be middle, team lead, team middle, double middle - anyone who understands how to work in the company and what is happening in it. The main thing is not a junior - otherwise there will be two people who do not understand what is happening.
There must be work for the junior and the person who controls it.
The second and most important stage that everyone underestimates. At this point, many things will have to be learned:
- attract a stream of juniors;
- sift the stream before the interview;
- screen out test task;
- select candidates.
There are three ways: on your own, on the strengths of educational sites and with the help of your school.
On your own : post vacancies on specialized sites like hh.ru or Habr Career. Consciously approach the preparation of a vacancy - it depends on how many irrelevant responses you will receive (but you will receive it necessarily).
In the job description do not add too much. Just taking the description for the middle and replacing one word there will not work. Juniors are afraid of such vacancies when there are many unfamiliar terms between the words “Hello” and “Cookies”. Therefore, for juniors it is important to indicate the real tasks and the stack that a person will use. If a person needs to typeset - write that the candidate must know HTML and CSS. If you hope that React will master in six months, don’t write about it now, you’ll be scared.
Educational projects . They get rid of the first level of sifting, because they usually have a base of successful graduates and are interested in their employment.
Own school . For example, Yandex does this - they have their own Yandex SRI school. Opening your own school is an effective way to get good beginners. But long, expensive and complicated:
- have to develop an educational program;
- prepare an online platform (or find a room if it’s not an online school);
- record video;
- spend developer hours;
- invest in marketing.
All in order to attract a crowd of juniors who are learning elsewhere at the same time.
After the vacancy appears on the job sites, you will receive hundreds of responses. But you will not hire everyone, you need to somehow weed them out. For example, when in League A. we published the vacancy “Beginner Layout Designer”, we received 164 responses. Of these, 10 people got to the interview, and 2 went to work.
8 out of 10 people will not get to the interview.
These are average statistics: in our experience, for the vacancies HTML Academy Career Center and for statistics from other employers. You are also waiting for such a funnel, if you do not want to hire everyone in a row.
Get ready to sift - prepare yourself and the team for the fact that there will be many applications, but low conversion (like ours or even lower). You must have time, resources and moral readiness for this. After the vacancy is published, the application flow will be endless - at some point you will have to chop off the flow.
Decide what you’ll pay attention to . Only you know which junior you want to find. Build on the important skills and values in your company. Look at the right skills. If you need a PHP developer, do not add HTML to the description. If you are looking for a staff, and the job seeker's resume says “Only udalenka”, then it does not fit. It doesn’t matter how good the resume is - one criterion is enough.
Reduce resume quality requirements . Despite the fact that educational projects teach you how to write a resume, there are a lot of free materials on the net how to do it. There are even services that, for an additional fee, bring the resume to the ideal. Despite this, everything is bad on the market with a resume for everyone, and not just for June. I’m looking for not only juniors, but also managers, marketers, senior developers, and almost no one in the market can write a resume.
Don't wait for the perfect resume.
Maximum, in June’s resume it will be written that he laid bricks at a construction site a month ago, and now he is a CSS graduate.
Do not expect the ideal, but pay attention to any trifle : training, interesting experience, the presence of a minimal portfolio and adequate texts about yourself. For example, I often see something like “lol, cake, cheburek” in the section about myself in young candidates and I immediately understand that we are not on their way.
This is stress for juniors. For example, at the Career Center, we constantly employ graduates and every day employees start by calling juniors who are shaking and cannot go for an interview.
Take people with a margin . A third of the dzhuns will not reach the scheduled interview: the cat fell ill, the tram broke, changed his mind along the way. I had a case when I saw from the window how the junior reached the office, and turned around at the entrance and left.
We’ll have to take more people so that you have a choice. But you have to choose not between Lamborghini and Ferrari, but between Lada and Moskvich.
Don’t do stress interviews . For a junior, any interview is a stress interview, even if you swing it on your hands and drink tea with cookies. To conduct an interview, you need a special skill, so as not to scare a person, but to reveal it.
For this reason, do not come for an interview with the entire department. You will have time to look at the person when he goes to work. Even middle and seniors are annoying when 10 people from CTO, CMO, CPO and senior developers come for an interview, and for a junior it is hell. Therefore, the best format is one on one. Have at least the first interview in this format.
Call more candidates, but fewer colleagues.
Don't give an interview test . We in League A. collect stories from juniors about how their jobs go. One of the cases: a newcomer came for an interview, and the interviewer gives a laptop and says:
- Do it on PSD.
And leaves for tea. The junior’s hands do not listen at this time, his fingers go numb, and the laptop sparkles from the fact that drops of sweat are falling on him. Junior doesn’t do the coaching test because he’s scared.
Look at development and relevance . Find out how he studied and how he learns new information. If a person talks about podcasts, meetings, conferences, blogs, channels on YouTube that are important for the community, this is what you need. If he answers: “I got a diploma, why should I study yet?”, Then goodbye.
The desire to study is one of the company's values, according to which we also select candidates. Another value is “burning eyes”. "Burning eyes" will suggest that a person is ready to work. Not he burns, but only his eyes. He himself will burn when he gets a job.
In our experience, the test task is best given after the interview. First sift the flow, leave it adequate, and among them select those who know how to do something. But you may have a different way.
Simplify your test case . Do not give difficult if you want to get solutions from candidates. Juniors cautiously approach tasks that they did not solve. If the task is technically difficult, they simply will not start it.
Three out of four juniors will not take up the difficult test task.
Record the task as detailed and understandable as possible . Juniors have no experience to rely on. They did not do 10,000 test tasks, they do not know the nuances and subtleties. Most likely, yours will be one of the first and the junior will do what he sees. If you need a result, describe it as detailed as possible.
Indicate deadlines . But put up the stock because juniors are slower. If you do not set deadlines, the candidate can do the task for months. For example, it happened with one candidate who sent me a test task a month later (well done, moreover). But the trouble is that we closed the vacancy two weeks before.
Set a timeline of 2 to 1 . Juniors perform work about 2 times slower. If you give a test task for 2 hours, expect the junior to complete it in 4.
Even in this case, the junior may not be in time. Agree with the candidate that he will send the result, regardless of the degree of readiness. So you will at least understand the approximate level of a person.
Monitor feedback . "Tear down the trash" test task is not the best way to give feedback to anyone, not just juniors. Everyone can write that everything has been done terribly. The right way is to tell you which way to grow in order to settle down later.
Some talented junes after 2-3 short and angry feedback stop looking for work. But this is not the problem of the candidates - this is the problem of the employer. After all, this is natural: the employer writes the wrong vacancy, incorrectly evaluates the candidates and gives the wrong test task, and then breaks down on the junior, because he does not meet the requirements of the middle... Why?
Choose multiple people . A talent pool of several candidates will help to avoid problems: some juniors do not go to work, someone has worked less than two weeks. "Stock" will help not to start the search again with force majeure.
But do not take a few people with the expectation that in the end there will be only one. This is not a survival game.
Take it into perspective . Junior does not produce a result here and now. Expect it to be beneficial in six months.
Don’t set a release date of more than a week . Junior is nervous. For a week, he can burn out, get scared, find a new profession and just do not go to work. Ideally, get hired in a couple of days.
A good way not to be nervous is to do something: read about corporate culture, get to know products, learn code style. Give the task before you exit in these and other ways to get ready for work.
Keep in touch . Do not leave the person before going to work - periodically ask how he is doing. This support will help him, and you will understand that you need to look for a new one if a person stops responding. For example, one of our graduates was hired by another company, and a release date was set in a month. But during this time no one called him, wrote or reminded him when to go to work. Junior is not expected to come out in a month
Probationary Period .For the first two months, the beginner works at 200% of his capabilities, and then gets tired and reveals his true talents. Therefore, prescribe a trial period of three months - this is optimal.
Add results or evaluation criteria for the probationary period to make it easier to dismiss, because not all juniors are "equally useful." Some of them are so legally prepared that it will be difficult for you to fire them, even if they did not work. With the criteria in the contract it will be easier.
Through two closed vacancies, you will learn how to select juniors.
Work with a junior begins with onboarding - introducing a newcomer to the team. There are several critical rules in onboarding that are important not only for juniors.
Do not throw in the meat grinder . How to get rid of a junior? You throw a combat mission on it on the first day, for example, to deploy the environment, and leave. He begins to panic. Come back in a week for the result, and you have a “dead” junior (if he has not quit) and an unfulfilled task.
Do not leave one . My first development job at a large company was at Veeam Software. Then I didn’t like the fact that they dragged me to stupid gliders: there were a lot of people, everyone was saying something, some strange people were talking in English on Skype, nothing was clear about what was happening. But now I understand that it helped me grow stronger, “plunge” into the work process and become part of the team.
Introduce the junior to the team, tell who to contact with questions - spend on all stages of onboarding, like everyone else. Engage in team processes - if you leave the junior alone, he will not do anything, because he does not know what to do. That is why, according to our statistics, 40% of juniors leave within two weeks if they are simply “thrown” into the process.
Give time . New job stress for everyone. For a junior, a new job is double stress. Do not give out a list of tasks from day one. Let me get used to it, feel the company, get acquainted, read the rules.
When the junior gets used to it and calms down, work hard. Do not delay onboarding for weeks. Still, you hired a developer - it should work.
A week passed, two - the junior “got stronger” and got used to it. What has changed in our approach?
Do not throw in the meat grinder . After a week, you still should not throw him “on the front line”. The junior will still not give you the same result as the middle, but you risk not getting the result and demotivating the person. Look for individual tasks for him, set deadlines based on speed and follow the result.
Do not leave one . Keep an eye on the junior so that he doesn’t get bored, doesn’t overwork, answer questions and try to “join” the team.
- Take on all team and work events, even as a listener.
- Take juna to release - let him sit and watch how everyone runs "on fire". On the third release, he will begin to help.
- Learn to work as a team. Juniors can write code and work with a version control system, but not in a team. Be prepared for this, keep this in mind, and help build collaboration.
- Do not let the team hurt the jones. If you have a junior, then you need it. Make sure that other developers are not rude or refuse to help.
- Don't let the Jones offend the team. When a junior does not accept the rules of work, gets into conflicts and disputes with senior specialists, says: “I’m D’artanyan, but you are not,” and working with him turns into hell - change it. Behind the door there is a line of the same.
- Do not trust. Set up a secure environment, separate branches, a ban on committing to the master - everything is at the system level, and not on parole.
Give clear instructions . The clearer the task will be formulated, the higher the chance that the junior will do it. But when he does it, ask the newbie about how the work is going so that he does not have time to “dig in.”
The junior will never ask about the problem, will not specify, but will try to solve everything himself. When a junior sits 3 days over a task and does not ask questions - this is a common situation. Many do not know how and are afraid to ask a question.
He can also dig in because he does not know how to estimate the time. Don’t trust Junior rating . He begins to accurately evaluate the terms of his work in six months. Until this time, analyze his past tasks and set a deadline based on them. But keep asking him to evaluate himself, let him study.
At the same time, don't bother the junior too often. Juniors work slower - 1.5-2 times slower, according to statistics from League A., HTML Academy and other projects on a sample of 500 jones. Keep this in mind when setting goals and planning. If the junior does not systematically keep up with your deadlines, this will demotivate him.
Junior is kind to the result of his work . For example, they might react like this:
- How dare you conduct a code review of my code! I'm not used to being pointed out by my mistakes!
This is an excerpt from a working chat from an angry junior. Juniors are not used to parsing their code, unlike experienced developers.
When he does the work - give maximum feedback . Experienced developers need help and feedback as well, what to speak of inexperienced.
- For every junior, a code review is stressful. Conduct code reviews and test projects “gently”: point out errors, but do not destroy a person with harshness.
- Try not only to point out errors, but also to praise - it motivates.
- Correctly formulate errors and ways to correct them. Junior can redo the whole block, because he decides that the error can only be fixed in this way.
It’s in your interests that the junior develops faster and begins to bring maximum benefit.
Through completed tasks . Juniors understand that they are at the beginning of their journey and each new task is a “path to success”. Nothing is more inspirational at the start of the journey than the feeling that the work is getting done.
Through trust . Juniors know how difficult it is to find a job and start working in the field, so they are grateful. If you have them, they are already motivated. But trust needs to be developed and increased.
Through growth . Through growth in position and tasks, the junior feels that the team believes in him. If a person corrects the text for 2 months, it will cease to motivate him. Complete more ambitious tasks after a while.
Nobody wants to be the eternal June.
Do not keep June for a long time in the status of a novice specialist, grow inside the company. After 3-6 months, the newcomer grows into a strong specialist.
But all this works if there is a salary. The Joons have to pay money. Free internships are possible, but June won't last long without money.
To summarize how to work as juniors: show patience, learn to select among hundreds of candidates, remember the features in order to understand how they can affect the work. Trust, grow, don’t give up, motivate with completed tasks and build trust.
Do not be afraid of juniors and the process of finding them. They have advantages.
Burning eyes and the ability to produce results . If you take into account all the nuances and choose the right person, the result will be.
Starting salary is two to three times lower than the market.
- It’s hard to motivate a person who works only for money. Juniors motivate more than money .
There is no prejudice regarding the market and company . For most juniors, your company will be the first. He will not have experience in other companies and it will be easier to accustom them to your culture.
There are many June.
There will be someone to choose from. You will not have my situation when 4 recruitment agencies have been looking for me a senior for 2.5 years. It’s easier with the joons: go on the subway, take the first person you come across - this is a ready-made front-end junior.
Get ready for juniors to be:
- ask stupid questions;
- sharply respond to criticism;
- work slowly;
- question your trust in them;
But if you learn to understand and direct them, then the jones will: grow rapidly, are loyal to the company that gave them the chance, to be imbued with culture and values.
If you like it, you'll want more juniors.The best mentor for a junior is a former junior, so they will be happy to help teach newcomers. But, like all other specialists, they will one day leave - be prepared. Everyone leaves .
The second TeamLead Conf this year we will spend again in Moscow, November 16 and 17 . It will be a face-to-face meeting with all the attributes: stage speakers, backstage communication, workshop workshops and coffee breaks..
In the fall, we chose such topics: team management, business processes, transformational changes in people and teams, communication, self-development and personal development, awareness development, team lead tools, teamwork and a new culture in the organization. If you have something to say about this, send a report request . As usual, the sooner you do this, the more likely you are to get into the conference program.