We all know that finding your first job can be quite challenging. When talking about the state of employment in IT you often hear about the war for talent. Agoria has predicted that the shortage for tech profiles is bound to triple in the next 10 to 20 years. So why is it that many young talents are struggling to find a job?
This article is about what we learned from personal experience as well as through the experiences of our community members.
Let’s start with a story, one that's very similar to what many starters are experiencing when looking for their first job. In this story I will talk about Em, which is a fictive name:
After having worked for several years Em needed more stability and something she could look forward to every day. She spent time doing research on what that meant exactly and ended up deciding that tech, more specifically a code related profession, might be the best fit for her.
Em enrolled in a bootcamp program that would train her to become a programmer in a little less than a year. Everything went well and she finished the program, even landed an internship pretty soon after. But the company where she interned was not hiring and this meant Em had to start looking for her first job.
At that time several companies had open positions for junior programmers and she was invited to each of them. The interviews varied, some went pretty smooth and some could've gone a lot better.
But what they all had in common is the reason they turned her down as a potential hire for the position she was applying for. Let me remind you that she was applying for a junior role, yet everyone turned her down for lack of experience.
This brings us to a very important issue that we feel should get a lot more attention:
When we create job listings we often apply categories such as junior, medior, senior...
Yet, when we are talking about a junior profile it can be someone who has zero experience or someone who is required to have 1, 2 or even 3 years of experience! And more often than not the latter is the case.
Now, you can imagine that, repeatedly having to hear that you are not qualified due to lack of experience over and over again for months or even longer, can be really demotivating. Especially if you are constantly reminded about the war for talent. Some will take this as a sign to abandon their newly chosen career direction, while others simply enrol into another course or program, in the hopes that it will give them the missing knowledge that is so often required. And thus they become unavailable for the job market for a longer period. Depending on what their academic pursuits are, they can become unavailable for 1 year or more (think bachelor or even master degrees).
How can we solve this?
Let us remind all the companies out there that, without getting the opportunity to start a first job, people will not gain the experience to become a medior or a senior. So the shortage for tech profiles can only grow at a faster pace when there is no decent influx of career starters.
If you have the resources and manpower to hire a starter, please do!
Everyone needs to start somewhere and yes it costs time and money. But you are likely also hiring people who gained their experience and expertise elsewhere, no? So their training was already paid for by someone else.
We can only keep the flow going when people at the start of their career also get the opportunities they need.
Another important part we should look at is improving our communication / labelling.
What do you mean by communication?
For starters, instead of using the “junior” label for every early career position, you could label a position as “entry-level”. This gives off a clear message that the role is open to people who are just starting out. Another plus is that it makes it easier for starters to navigate through job listings, which lets them target companies that have an increased chance of hiring them.
There is no need to be afraid that more experienced candidates might not find their way to your company. We have already lost track of how many times we have heard that mediors who apply for junior roles get hired instead of an actual junior .
Candidates will find their way, if they don't, the issue will definitely lie elsewhere.
Speaking of finding their way…
Community job board
We at women.code(be) believe that there is a lot of energy put into attracting more people into tech, while retaining talent is equally important. That’s why we want to do what we can so we do not lose many of our talented starters due to frugal matters such as adding an extra category for entry-level jobs.
To encourage as many companies as possible to create opportunities for starters we charge a lower rate to post entry-level positions.
Why should you post your listings on our job board?
The past 5 years we have been building a network of women who code, to make a difference in this white male-dominated sector. We build a very niche network that consists of women from all over Belgium, from different socio-economic backgrounds, different cultural backgrounds, different ethnicities, different age groups, with and without disabilities and so on...
We also represent a broad spectrum of code-related talents: full stack, software engineering, machine learning, AI,...
When companies reply to us with the line: "But we hire based on talent", does that mean they are also hiring / reaching out to a lot of talent from underrepresented groups? Or are they simply using this as an excuse to fill in positions as quickly as possible?
Let us remind you that you as a company have the power to help women and minorities thrive and to make tech more inclusive and diverse. But it will take effort and take up time. After all, Rome also wasn’t built in a day. But reaching out to an underrepresented group that is more likely in need of an extra push to accept that they are just as qualified as their male counterparts, is already a big step forward!
We leave you with this food for thought and hope you will join us in our journey to change tech for the better.
If you wish to publish entry-level (or other level) jobs on our community job board, visit jobboard.womendotcode.be.
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