Why is the market so tough for junior engineers right now? 😭

The tech job market is slowly picking back up after the mass layoffs but it is still very difficult for junior developers to find work.

Why is the market so tough for junior engineers right now? 😭
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Hey Friends 👋,

Back in 2016, I was working at Checkout.com and was one of the first developers working in their London office. Even back then the company had ambitious goals and as a result, I spent a lot of my time hiring new developers.

For any new developer, it can take 3 - 6 months to get them up to speed and during that time they will need help from the existing team. Given we already had a very small team with lots of work we couldn't afford to spend a lot of time hand-holding new developers. As a result, we exclusively hired senior developers and especially those with existing payment experience.

In London especially, there are quite a few companies working with .NET and they all have a similar tech stack (it seems C# is still very popular in the UK).

As a result, there was no shortage of senior candidates to interview. Generally, a good senior developer is at least twice more productive (if not more) than a junior developer while often getting paid less than double the junior salary. It wasn't until the company got a lot larger (and more profitable) that we started branching out and hiring junior developers.

Often companies will see junior developers as an investment. If a junior developer shows good potential and is a fast learner, their output can be comparable to that of an OK senior developer. This is great for companies, as for the first few years at least, that developer isn't going to be earning as much as the senior developers.

So why does this matter now?

A lot of tech companies have seen massive layoffs this year and it doesn't appear to be over yet. It has definitely slowed down but combined with hiring freezes it is getting harder to get a job in tech.

Lots of engineering teams will be running as skeleton crews, overworked and staffed just enough to keep the lights on. Even though many teams have lost team members to the layoffs, the amount of work that is expected from them hasn't decreased.

With companies being a lot more selective with their hires, they expect any team member that joins to "hit the ground running" and that is just not something most junior developers are very good at. If you have the budget to hire a developer it makes more sense to spend that on an experienced developer than an inexperienced one.

It is not all doom and gloom though. Hiring in tech does seem to be increasing especially outside of Big Tech. I can see from my LinkedIn that many of those laid off at the beginning of the year have managed to find jobs.

My advice for those struggling is to put yourself out there. Share your knowledge on LinkedIn and on developer platforms so employers can see what you know. Put together a project to show off your skills and finally try applying for the lesser-known large companies that will likely have less competition for roles. Once you have some experience, it is much easier to find new positions.

If you are a junior developer, let us know in the comments what your experience has been trying to get a job in the current market.

❤️ Picks of the Week

🛠️ Resource - GitHub Actions Conditional Cheatsheets. Next week's video uses GitHub Actions and while doing research I came across this great Cheat sheet for conditional for GitHub Actions. There are actually a lot of great cheatsheets on Michael's website so it is worth bookmarking.

💬 Forum - From 2D to 3D. Steam had its summer sales the other week and I have started to play Project Zomboid. It is a "realistic" zombie survival simulation (spoiler: everyone dies eventually). I was interested to see whether it was 2D or 3D as it has an isometric fixed camera angle. Turns out it used to be 2D but they moved it to 3D due to performance issues. There is an interesting forum post from the developers about the move.

🎓 Free Course - Learn how to design systems at scale and prepare for system design interviews. Karan Pratap Singh has put together a great free course on system design. You can also see it on his website as well. There is so much great content on here.

📝 Article - Create an advanced search engine with PostgreSQL. This is a great article on how to implement full-text search using PostgreSQL. I must admit I didn't know PostgreSQL was capable of this and I have always defaulted to Elasticsearch for these types of tasks.

👨‍💻 Latest from me

I feel bad that I haven't got a YouTube video out for 3 weeks. I have been putting together a more project-focused video that has taken longer than I wanted it to.

The code is all done now though and those of you who are on my paid plan will be able to see it on GitHub already. I am editing the video at the moment so it will be done by next Friday.

I am going to be mixing in some more project-based videos in between my explainer ones so there will be more projects to look forward to.

If you would like to support my work and get access to the code from my YouTube videos you can upgrade to my paid plan.

💬 Quote of the Week

"It's always good to have a hobby where there's no way to monetize it ... So follow your dreams, but right up to the point where they become your job, and then run in the other direction." - David Rees

From Keep Going (affiliate link) by Austin Kleon. Resurfaced with Readwise.

My unmonetizable hobby is playing the guitar. I know I technically could monetize it but I am just not that good 🤣.