Hire Sooniors

So you have that position to fill, great! Now you have to find the right talent for your job description. Here comes the complicated part. Glassdoor did a research in 2016 showing how hard it is to hire for employers. It is especially complicated to find software engineers and even harder to hire senior ones.

Some companies don’t even try to find juniors, and only seeks seniors. I can understand why people see juniors as a risk, as they tend to do mistakes, as everyone doing something they are new to would do. So unless you are Netflix or must fill your position with a senior because you are a startup that can’t afford any mistake or a team with no seniors to teach less experienced employees, seek for Sooniors.

Soonior? Say what?

What are Sooniors you ask? Good question! I define Sooniors as people with some experience, say like 2–5 years, with a great potential to become seniors within a year if guided and treated as seniors. This means they have the right attitude, eager to listen and learn, and all they lack is experience.

Finding those people might be as hard as finding seniors, but you will gain a few very real benefits when finding them:

  • Growing a person is very rewarding, and that person will be grateful for your investment
  • Grateful people are happier people, happier people work better!
  • It will be cheaper than hiring a senior

Finding Sooniors

You are probably asking yourself now

OK, I want to find a Soonior, how do i do that?

Well, as everything in the world of hiring, the answer is not a one size fits all, but i can share a rule of thumb and a few ideas.

Rule of Thumb: Hire Enthusiastic Yes’s only

Morton Mandel in his great book It’s All About Who points out a real gem I took with me. There are basically 4 types of candidates:

  • Enthusiastic Yes — Those people that after you interview them, you want to hire them right away.
  • Good ones — People you can grow with some investing on your part, and they will become Enthusiastic Yes.
  • Almost good — Those people you have a good sense about, but something is missing, incomplete, and makes you feel uncomfortable with hiring them.
  • The horrible ones — Those people you wish you have not met with.

You really want to hire the Enthusiastic Yes candidates, but they are scarce and usually find a job easily. Now this does not mean they are seniors, it just means you feel they are the perfect fit for what you need. Most companies can do with Good ones as well, but I dare you not to hire Almost good candidates. This is a mistake that happens all too often, and you will find it is hard to fire them, as they are almost good at what they do. This will hurt you greatly in the long run. Even if you did the mistake and hired one of the The horrible ones, it is not that bad, as you will soon see their bad performance and fire them. This will not be the case with the Almost good and they will cause The dead sea effect.

The additional ideas are:

  • Hire people with passion
  • Listen to what drives your candidates and try to identify the rhythm in their words when they describe that driver to you
  • Show respect

This is the feeling you have when you find Enthusiastic Yes

Photo by Peter Conlon on unsplash

Photo by Peter Conlon on unsplash

Outcomes of hiring a senior

What should you expect would happen with a soonior? I will show you.

The learning curve will look like:

Exponential growth

Exponential growth

This growth in knowledge will lead to a situation where people in your company will come and ask the soonior questions. That will trigger the soonior to ask more questions and will foster their own knowledge, creating a Multiplier effect.

Another benefit of an eager soonior is the fact you will be questioned on stuff you took for granted, even if the reasons those decisions where taken are long gone, but you continued doing them due to a habit. The soonior will question them, and trigger you to re-evaluate that habit.

Over time, the soonior will start guiding others in their strongest parts and make others on the team better, as part of their journey of becoming seniors. This in turn will attract others to the team, as talented engineers like working with as-talented engineers. Especially if given a MAP (Mastery, Autonomy, Purpose).


To summarize, you should find Sooniors the same way you would find a senior, but should expect only for less experience. The candidate should be an Enthusiastic Yes, have the passion and skills to do the job, and will become a senior soon, with some help. Go and get your soonior!