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2 reasons why hiring juniors can make your team more diverse

26 April 2024 , by Josh Nel

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Many companies struggle with gender and racial diversity in their tech teams. This is becoming even harder as recruiters often don’t know where to look and are under even more pressure to fill open roles. Here, we'll examine why hiring juniors is a solid starting point for better team diversity.

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To help make this important work easier, OfferZen co-founder Phillip Joubert dug into the data to find three approaches to fuel your hiring strategy.

Diversity makes your team more innovative

Research shows that diverse teams are more innovative and one key reason for this is simple: People from different backgrounds bring unique perspectives and ways of thinking to the table. This allows them to approach business problems with fresh perspectives that might be missing in more homogenous ones. This is particularly important when you’re designing technical solutions to problems facing a diverse group of users.

It also makes diversity a strategic advantage for your company in a tougher macroeconomic climate where companies are under even more pressure to create products that create real value for their customers.

So why is building a more diverse team so hard? Companies often don’t know where to start looking for these developers.

Building diverse tech teams is hard and recruiters often don’t know where to look

One of the most effective and least controversial ways of boosting diversity is at the top of your hiring funnel. If you have more diversity at the top of your funnel, you’ll inevitably end up hiring a more diverse team. While some companies are already taking this approach, many are getting the execution wrong.

In addition, recruiters are under even more pressure to fill roles right now. Talent acquisition teams have been disproportionately affected by layoffs and are leaner than they were previously. On top of that, they need to work on more applications because there are more candidates than roles. In fact, they’re dealing with triple the number of inbound applications per role than in 2021.

Source: Ashby

As a result, the time they spend doesn’t always yield the results the leaders hoped for. That’s because actively sourcing candidates becomes important for building a diverse team. However, it’s not always clear where you should look for these candidates.

Knowing where to look is crucial to doing more with this lack of capacity and time.

One reason why it’s not always clear where to look is that many of us implicitly assume that we’ll see a similar demographic composition across all roles, cities and years of experience.

In reality, data from the 2024 State of the Developer Nation report shows the talent pool differs significantly depending on what you’re hiring for. With a better understanding of these talent pools, you can create a sourcing strategy that concentrates efforts on roles where it’s easier to make diverse hires.

Building more diverse teams starts with hiring juniors

Recent computer science graduates are far more representative of South Africa’s population than professional developers overall. Over time, professional developers will reflect these graduates, and diverse teams will become the norm, but until then: The graduate pool is key to greater team diversity.

Source: OfferZen’s 2024 State of the Developer Nation Report data

Juniors are also more representative when it comes to gender. Women developers typically skew junior and there are significantly fewer women at the senior and tech lead levels.

Source: OfferZen’s 2024 State of the Developer Nation Report data

Hiring less experienced developers can also help you identify top talent before anyone else. By focusing your efforts on graduates or juniors, you’re more likely to identify top developers before anyone else while making your team more diverse.

On top of that, a diverse team makes it easier to attract other candidates. For example, having more women on your dev team will make it easier to attract other women.

So how do you do that? One strategy is to use internships, graduate recruitment programmes, or boot camps like WeThinkCode. They also allow you to determine if someone is a good fit for your team before taking them on permanently.

If you’re looking for more actionable ways to improve your diversity hiring efforts, download the data-backed approach to building diverse tech teams:

  • Hire junior developers who are more representative than seniors and leads
  • Look at frontend roles which typically have more diversity than backend or full stack ones
  • Consider adjusting your hiring location

Further reading:

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