A disturbing trend specially in startups is hiring the cheapest, most junior developers out there. The thought process is that “they are good enough” or that “programming is easy” or most of all “they’re cheap”. Some of these misconceptions have been fuelled by stories of yet another 8-year old making an iPhone app. “How hard can this stuff be?” The reality is that it is hard - if you want any software beyond a prototype that you can charge your customers for.

Unfortunately when you hire these more junior developers, they become a massive strain on your existing developers. Your existing developers need to spend a considerable amount of chaperoning these juniors for at least three to six months. You probably don’t want to hand production releases to them either so that’s on your existing developers as well. In the meantime all critical production issues are also handled by your existing developers who also have to juggle their own workload along with everything else. All this happens while management is left scratching their heads as to why productivity has not gone up.

Another aspect of this is that when you hire junior developers they have to struggle very hard to catch up. Getting to a basic level of competency is going to take work - a lot of work. They’ve got to learn the technologies, the systems, keep up with new developments and transition into taking on more responsibility. It seems unreasonable to expect these developers to help push your company to new heights in the short term.

Do yourself a favour and hire the right mix of developer for your task at hand (seniors, intermediates and juniors). If not you might find that as you hire more junior developers that your existing developers choose to work elsewhere.