Tech Hiring Slowdown: The Junior Dilemma

In an era of rapid technological innovation, why are so many aspiring developers struggling to find their first job?”

Hiring software engineers has slowed down, and hiring junior developers has reached a standstill. Students struggle to find internships while working, and prequalifying people can’t find an entry position for almost any technology. 

Why is that? 

Hiring junior or entry-level developers often comes with a certain degree of hesitation from companies, primarily due to their limited professional experience. Of course, employers can’t tell if JDs have the potential to handle complex tasks, understand real-world scenarios, and follow established industry or company standards. Unless they hire them, that is.

They might gain a lot if they decide to take this proverbial plunge and offer a temporary position to a junior. For starters, juniors’ fresh perspective often proves to be an asset. They approach problems with an open mind, untethered by established methods or procedures. This openness can foster innovative solutions and novel approaches to problem-solving, thereby infusing the team with renewed energy and ideas. 

Another thing working in their hiring favor is their cost, which makes them an appealing choice for projects with tight budgets. Even their lack of knowledge or experience can prove to be a win because, with the right guidance and training, they can evolve into invaluable senior members who deeply understand your company’s culture and goals, resulting in long-term stability and growth for your team. 

Employers know all this, yet they still hesitate to hire junior developers because other factors are at play. 

We asked Nikola for more figure-based examples from our experience to help break down the costs (if they’re leaving) or investment (if they’re staying) in hiring a junior developer.

Setup costs

The workplace setup is often overlooked as an investment. However, from the employer’s point of view, it’s still a cost of enabling anyone to do their job. Depending on the seniority, technology, licenses, and overall configuration of the machine, this setup starts from 1,500 and can go up to 4,000 euros. This includes a decent chair, desk, laptop (for mobility and remote work purposes), additional monitor or two, and various software and licenses. For a junior developer and the initial requirements, and for the purpose of this article, we’ll round the setup cost to 2000 euros per junior developer. 

Onboarding, Training, and Mentoring Requirements

Junior developers typically require guidance to familiarize themselves with the company’s development processes, tools, and technologies. Companies must allocate resources in terms of time and personnel to properly train and mentor junior developers.

Training the developer to become proficient in the required stack may require extensive time and effort from medior or senior developers who would otherwise be working on critical projects. Mentorship plays a crucial role in the growth of junior developers. They benefit from the guidance of experienced professionals who can provide feedback, share their expertise, and help them navigate challenges.

To make this investment more tangible, we’ll specify the numbers. If a company appoints a senior to train and mentor a junior developer, they take away from their time for software development. Let’s say a senior developer’s hour is worth just 50e on the market. If they set an hour a day, or 5h per week for mentoring and training a junior, it amounts to 22h or about 1000e per month. 

It’s worth mentioning that taking away from an expert’s time and expertise can put a bit of a strain on a team actively working on different projects and might require other team members to put in extra hours to make up for this, which is also an expense made to make room to onboard a new team member. 

Productivity concerns and the need for supervision

One common concern companies have when hiring junior developers is their perceived lower productivity than more experienced developers. Junior developers are expected to take longer to complete tasks as they are still learning and gaining proficiency in their roles.

However, it is important to note that the level of supervision required by junior developers decreases as they gain experience. Initially, a higher level of supervision is necessary to ensure they understand the company’s processes, project requirements, and coding standards. As they become more familiar with the work environment and gain proficiency, their need for supervision decreases, and they can contribute more independently.
In terms of figures, let’s say a seasoned mentor can pack all of this in that 5h mentoring per week we quantified earlier in the article. Still, it would be more realistic to plan with double the amount if a junior is assigned a project to work on early in their months in a new company. The overall mentoring and supervision investment, in this case, can go anywhere from 1000-2000e per junior per month.


When it comes to hiring a junior developer, it’s essential to understand that their salary is just one part of the overall costs associated with bringing them on board. First off, the gross salary for a junior developer, depending on their experience and the specific technology they’re working with, usually ranges from 900 to 1800 euros per month. For example, if a junior developer has about 1.5 years of experience, they might earn a net salary of around 800-900 euros, meaning their salary is approx. 1650e expense for the company. 

However, it’s crucial to account for additional overheads that add to the overall expense. These overheads include costs related to statutory obligations, administrative costs such as rent and accounting, and various other expenses related to running a business. Typically, these overheads add an extra 400 euros per head per month in our case. 

Moreover, investment in the junior developer’s continuous learning and development is another significant but often overlooked cost. This might include expenses for online learning platforms like Udemy, additional software licenses, and other educational resources. While these are seen as investments, they can quickly turn into costs if not effectively utilized. It’s vital to ensure that these resources are used well, contributing positively to the developer’s growth and, ultimately, the organization’s success.

When added up, the monthly gross cost for a junior developer can come out to be around 1600- 2000 euros. 

Risk of Turnover

Junior developers may be more likely to switch jobs frequently as they explore different opportunities for career growth or seek higher compensation. 

For example, a company investing time, effort, and resources into training and mentoring a junior developer may be concerned that the developer will leave for another job soon after acquiring valuable skills and experience. This turnover can disrupt project continuity, require frequent replacements, and lead to a loss of invested resources.

It’s worth mentioning that, in reality, companies tend to keep juniors on training benches for months until they make sure further mentoring and supervision are case-based and the junior can handle the pace, shifting priorities, and tech requirements mostly independently. This appears to be a waste of time for most juniors, and their impatience makes them consider other offers. For the company that has invested considerably without having any ROI this is an argument in favor of hiring a medior and paying them more but having them jump on board sooner with some adjustments and far less team and project disturbance. 

So, what strategies can companies use to maximize the return on investment in junior developers? 

A clear roadmap that outlines how to retain and motivate developers is one of the ways to maximize investment. At Bridgewater Labs, we have this regarding technologies, but being a developer doesn’t just mean having technical skills. It also involves having soft skills, such as logical thinking and understanding, developers are not code monkeys; they’re solution engineers. Additionally, clear communication and setting expectations from both sides are crucial because the company needs to know in which direction and within what timeframe the developer plans to grow. This helps assess compatibility and conditions for collaboration.

Other strategies include:

  1. Career development path: Providing a clear path for growth and advancement within the company, including opportunities for training, certifications, and skill development.
  2. Defining company mission and vision: Setting a strong sense of purpose and direction for the company, where everyone can match their why. 
  3. Mentoring: Assigning experienced mentors within the company who can guide and support junior developers in their professional development.
  4. Supportive environment: Creating a positive and nurturing work environment that encourages learning, collaboration, and personal growth.

What advantages do junior developers bring to the table that can offset some of these costs (fresh perspective, adaptability, long-term growth potential)?

We value personality more than tech skills. These can be developed faster than ever before with the available knowledge, courses, and mentors who can customize their progress and make their development path more concrete with applicable knowledge without much wandering. Additionally, our experience has shown that developers from smaller towns see the job as a chance to progress, develop, and become experts in their domains. They don’t just focus on cashing in on their market value, although it is highly individual and depends on many factors.

Some individuals view the job as an investment of their time in their future development and increased market value. Others are eager to quickly raise their value by switching companies frequently. However, this strategy has a weak point because the technical skill set cannot be developed at the same pace, compromising the value of an expert who is paid as a senior but lacks the knowledge of one.

In addition to the opportunity we give at Bridgewater Labs, our intentions are clear, and it is in our interest to invest in the individual’s progress and the company’s growth. As junior developers improve, we can assign them to stronger, more complex, and more profitable projects. We grow, they grow, and the client is satisfied. It is in everyone’s interest for this to happen as soon as possible.

What other factors can affect the decision to hire a junior developer or not?

Nowadays, we rarely get to see the love, passion, and true interest in software development as we used to, say, 10+ years ago. Most of the junior developers who graduate from the university have only a couple of mandatory projects for their degree. I understand that studying is challenging. Still, countless opportunities exist to work on personal or even open-source projects and freelance. There are plenty of online resources and opportunities for improvement to add to their own portfolio to make themselves more employable. We expect to see some work on at least 10 projects of any type after graduation, in addition to the mandatory two during studies, to assess interests and skills and consider making an offer. This goes for all junior developers, regardless of their type of education (formal or informal).

Validated tips for junior developers:  

  • Accept any offer you get as a junior developer to get your foot in the door, especially if this is your first employment. Look for good mentors, a clear vision, and a mission that aligns with your values. 
  • If you do have some experience, you might negotiate the initial offer, but do not forget it’s primarily a chance to build upon what you know and work hard on improving your skills and adding to your portfolio.
  • Be proactive, and do not wait for anyone to carve a professional roadmap for you. Work hard on your career development plan from day 1. Ask, consult, have a plan and a vision, show interest in solving problems outside your project scope if you have any free time, and learn from others.
  • If you can pair yourself up with a seasoned developer, use the opportunity to learn as much as possible bc you get processed and validated know-how, which is priceless.
  • Wait for the first raise to be given because it will be based on the feedback and your performance. This is how companies show trust and recognition of your work and input. Plus, it’s a sign of appreciation and quite possibly a sign that you match the company culture and are there to stay. 

That’s the moment to revise your career development plan and gain velocity at becoming a more experienced and valuable developer. If the company matches your personal and professional plans –  it’s a place to stay. 

Nikola Obradović, CEO of Bridgewater Labs