Too many senior devs

A customer I once worked for took pride in a simple yet baffling policy: “We only hire senior developers”

Their line of reasoning was that they could afford to pay for top talent. Anything less than the best was subpar.

I’ve seen this all over the place. The idea that a senior developer is better than a junior one. It’s as commonplace as it is wrong.

Senior developers have a place in the industry. Want to start a new project from scratch? Don’t hire a newbie. Need some architectural insights to get back on track? Go for a veteran. Senior devs are ideal launchers and fixers. But in business-as-usual development, a good mix of junior and senior is healthy.

So why do we see the high demand for seniors? And why is it so hard to land that first dev job?

Because most companies don’t have business-as-usual development.

Instead of building a focussed product, they start project after project.
Instead of finishing what they started, their teams get dragged into analysis paralysis. People spend obscene amounts of time in alignment meetings where nothing gets done.

Resources get pulled from existing projects. Every project is racing against the clock.

And on the work floor… people become detached.

The smart and experienced brains are tired of being in yet another meeting that leads to nowhere. People race for the first deadline, but scoff at the seventh.

Great people leave, good people start slacking.

Since every project is now either new or in trouble, the company needs a constant supply of launchers and fixers: senior devs.

That’s not a sign of an organisation where top talent thrives. It’s a rudderless ship that’s burning through a big budget.

If all developers are straight out of school, the product is a mess.

If all devs are highly experienced, leadership is lacking.

A healthy organisation has more junior than senior devs.

Have a quick count in your organisation and see if you need to get better.