Shipshape Studio
Creative Studio - Los Angeles, CA


Top 5 Reasons Startups Need to Stop Hiring Junior Staff


You're bootstrapping, so money is tight. Or you're funded, and but how experienced does your social media person really need to be? Plus no one has heard of you (yet!), so it's hard to get top talent to come onboard. All of those are real excuses as to why you're hiring young and inexperienced designers, engineers, marketing people, and so forth.

However inexpensive it seems to hire junior staffers—it can really cost you in the long run. Here's why.

1. Opportunity Costs

Imagine how much you'd get done if you weren't constantly babysitting your team. As a leader, if you could just focus on your job, you might actually have a minute to step back and see the forest for the trees. Yet with too many junior hires in place — that'll never happen. Even if you've created great processes for your team to follow, questions come up that need answering.

If you instead had experienced people solving those problems, you wouldn't have to worry about every little decision that had to be made. People who are seasoned in their area of expertise don't need handholding, and allow you to focus on the big-picture business growth. They might even surprise you with solutions that you hadn't even dreamt of yet, accelerating the growth of your company that much faster.

2. Other Kinds of Debt

Monetary debt is one thing. But consider this: Say you hire a young developer who throws something together so quickly that the moment you need to change or scale your product, you bump into problems. That's technical debt, which will need to be repaid — through more development hours.

This doesn't just happen on the dev side. If you're a growing startup and you start building your brand with an identity that's just thrown together, you're incurring design debt you'll have to address, or pay back, later. As you grow, you'll start to see all the little things that need work: your user experience is lacking, or your brand is blah, or the buttons on your site are all slightly different in color.  

You can totally avoid "other" debts by hiring someone who's done whatever you need before, more than once. A senior designer or developer will think about what happens to their work beyond today, and give you sustainable solutions that will grow with your business or product without requiring a complete overhaul.

3. It Does Your Employees a Disservice

It's not like a junior person don't deserve a chance at a job. It's that they deserve actual mentorship. Unless you yourself are an expert in their field, and you have the time to mentor and guide them, you do them a disservice by hiring them without proper oversight.

Hire someone who’s done it all before — even when whatever ‘it’ is becomes challenging.

You're also doing the rest of your team a disservice. If you hire a junior designer to work with your team, you're inevitably making their jobs a little more frustrating. And since a designer or developer is actually creating the end product based on what the rest of your team is asking for — their work ultimately won't shine, either. 

4. It Saves Money, But Wastes Time

Even the most talented junior designers don't always understand the real-world implications of a hefty project. You might save a few bucks on their hourly rate, but if you think about it, they'll often take longer to produce results and may even miss deadlines altogether. Quickly all that "savings" can add up, and cost you more than the most expensive senior designer you interviewed.

There's a good reason experienced people charge more. They usually work much smarter and faster than those fresh out of school. They'll also challenge your assumptions and directions, too — and you'll almost always end up with a much better product.

5. Rehiring Is Expensive


A senior designer is less likely to quit to go "find themselves." I've seen countless team members leave in the middle of a product launch or sprint because they're no longer feeling fulfilled.

Not that this couldn't happen with any hire, but once you've been doing a job for a while, you're less likely to be surprised by how it makes you feel inside. And you're more likely to face challenges head on, expect setbacks and shifting goals, and keep moving in the right direction even when you're not following a straight line.

Rehiring in the middle of a project or during a big growth sprint requires a lot of work, time, and money, especially for a startup. That's why it makes sense from the start to hire someone who's done it all before — even when whatever "it" is becomes challenging.

If you're finding that hiring senior talent is not possible, either because your can't afford them full-time or you just can't convince them to come onboard because you're just getting off the ground, consider contracting out the work. Look at senior freelancers or local, independent design or dev shops that can give you 10 to 20 hours a week. You might pay the same amount for 10 hours of a senior developer's time as you would for 40 hours of a junior developer's, but you'll actually save money and, more importantly, headaches in the long run.