Why it costs more for companies when hiring many junior engineers

I recently had a chance to chat with a friend who was a project manager at well-funded company. She complained about slow development of projects and everything seemed to take too long to finish.

The team was not small for frontend work: 6 engineers, 1 designer, one QA and one PM. She gave me a quick look at the roadmap and I thought there should be no problem for a team with such size.

However, there was one thing that struck me: they were all juniors engineers. The founder (a business person) thought that adding more engineers to a team would make thing faster. Just like adding more worker to assembly line. And she was low-balling offer to keep the budget low.

That seems to be a common thoughts among business owner.

The difference between a good engineer and bad engineer is much more than good worker and bad work in a factory. And low-balling offer makes it worse. A team would spend more time fixing problems caused by junior players.

Difference between Junior and Senior Software Engineers

Senior software engineers are the experts in their respective technology stack who know how to do things right. Junior engineers work with mentorship and often need guidance on what to do.

To put it simply, junior developers are built on rails whereas senior developers build the rails.

But when you look at compensation, senior engineers often do not get what they deserve.

Even with 10 times more contribution to a company, senior software engineers only have 20-50% more wages than their junior counterparts. By 10 times more contribution, I don’t mean doing 10x more coding but the ability to deliver codes that are error-free, high-quality, and ready to be implemented.

Senior software engineers carry a proactive approach to their work that prevents bad (full of errors) software architecture. Junior software engineers cannot be given complex tasks since bad code can result in operational efficiencies across industries.

This can cause delays in business operations such as ordering, product shipment, service deliveries, customer support, and more, decreasing productivity and creating frustration across organizations.

Senior software engineers have the expertise and knowledge to consistently innovate in developing solutions that improvise the performance and scalability of systems. For instance, there are many video streaming applications in the market but none compares to the video streaming experience offered by YouTube.

When Whatsapp was acquired by Facebook, it had only 35 engineers. If they double the engineering team by hiring people with half salary, they probably would not be able to achieve the same technical development like they did with their team.

Why are senior software engineers underpaid?

Where has compensation gone wrong in the software development industry? Why is the difference in the work quite minimally noticeable in the salaries of the junior and senior software engineers?

[Source: Indeed]

The reason lies within the HR policies of the modern industrial era. Technically incompetent human resource professionals and MBAs decide, control, and tweak the salaries offered to software engineers. Startups, as well as businesses, follow similar HR policies across industries creating situations where senior software engineers often feel underpaid. 

[Source: Indeed]

Human resource professionals managing the workforce of the companies need to understand that coding isn’t just time-consuming. A sound and robust software architecture demands brainpower, innovation, and dedication that makes it very difficult for senior software engineers to follow an ideal health routine. 

Even when outsourcing coding tasks to engineers, they should consider the merciless demand for skilled, quality software engineers and pay them what they deserve rather than hiring low-quality coders for affordable prices. 

They think they are saving money. No, they are not.

The difference between doing the right thing and wrong thing are hard to measure.

If Warren Buffet advises you to buy stocks, the value of the work lies within the advice. Even if you find other investment advisors offering hours of work and several trading picks in Buffet’s one hour of work and price, they won’t be able to match his profit returns. 

How to find and hire quality senior software engineers?

Managers also find it hard to hire quality senior software engineers. Some companies willing to pay well for high-quality software architectures don’t know where or how to find senior engineers. So how do you hire an experienced senior software engineer? Here are some best practices companies can follow to hire skilled developers.

Have a Look at Their Previous Works

Senior software engineers work hard to earn the reputation of being called seniors. These dedicated programmers always have previous works and experiences to share with their new employers. To know whether a software engineer is capable of producing powerful and scalable software applications, go through their previous work. Avoid believing anything claimed and always ask for some certification of the work.

Senior software engineers spend years working for either big enterprises or on developing widely acclaimed software solutions. Their contribution to a company is quite evident since they have a systematic approach to analyze, design, assess, implement, test, maintain, and re-engineer software applications. Unlike junior software engineers, they define several models for the software life-cycle. 

Managers can deduce their ability to innovate and write high-quality error-free codes from all the past projects they have worked on.

Consider Ex-Employee Consultants of Top Tiered Tech Companies

To get the title of a senior, software engineers have to solve complex problems under high-pressure. And those high-pressure situations are often missing in small tech companies. This is the primary reason why most senior software engineers have a background with big tech giants such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and others. 

Managers should consider hiring former senior software engineers of leading tech companies for consulting. They can provide solutions that are effective, scalable, and prompt.

Hiring a full-time ex-Amazon engineer could be expensive but you do not to hire them full-time. There are many freelancers who are former talents at top tech companies are available for hire. They can work part-time with your team and provide suggestion for critical parts of your system.

Check GitHub Contribution

Github is home to 40 million users, substantially more than any of its competitors. The biggest open source repository for coding has a wide community that comprises all types of software engineers, juniors as well as seniors. 

While some software engineers use GitHub to copy someone else’s work and use it for their advantage, many senior software engineers are widely known for their contribution to the platform. Software engineers that do not have any contribution to the biggest open-source online coding repository often tend to be incompetent and do not know about planning and developing large-scale projects from conception to completion.

Freelance Senior Software Engineers: Global Access to Talent and Quality

The constantly evolving on-demand market covers 36% alone in the US-workforce. Many notable tech giants such as IBM, Facebook, Paypal, as well as many thriving startups are hiring freelance software engineers to instantly boost their organizational growth. But how the gig-economy is helping companies to grow instead of full-time employees? The most notable reason is global access to talent and quality. 

Stack Overflow conducts detailed annual surveys of developers around the world that visit their website. In their 2019 survey, the question and answer site for enthusiast programmers found that- from around 50 million monthly visitors, over 21 million were professional developers from different parts of the world. Over 25% of these professional developers were from Europe, 22.23% were from the USA, and 13.44% visited from India. 

[Source: Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2019]

Several online freelance platforms allow varying businesses across industries to hire high-quality senior software engineers. A report from Business News Daily said that 70% of companies hire software developers to fill specific skill gaps in their workforce. Expert level skills in some high-in-demand programming languages are often hard to find. Senior software engineers working as freelancers can help businesses leverage expertise from anywhere around the globe.

Everyone wants the best but not everyone wants to pay like they are the best. You get what you pay for. You might want to think a few times next time you want to hire someone to build things for you. Correctly.