Hiring Engineers (By The Numbers)

Here’s my anecdotal evidence that Greenhouse engineering is a good place to start your career, regardless of how you learned to program.

A few years ago, Greenhouse’s test automation team hired eight junior engineers who were either self-taught or who had learned to program at coding bootcamps. I’m one of them, and I talked about my experience in a blog post. We joined with the understanding that we would be mentored and that good performers could take their skills to other teams at Greenhouse.

Two years later, we all continue to thrive as mid-level engineers across our engineering team, shipping features for our recruiting and onboarding products, building systems for infrastructure and operations, and making our mobile products work.

Moreover, Greenhouse continues to hire non-traditional engineers, in their first production role. Here’s some of our moves since my blog post:

  • Engineers from Grace Hopper Academy and App Academy joined the team that builds our marketing site;
  • We’ve filled roles on our Quality Assurance (QA) team from other departments, such as sales and chat support;
  • We’ve moved QA engineers to our security and operations teams.

It would be totally reasonable to change companies in the first couple of years of a new career. But you just don’t see it in this group.

So I did a survey to help uncover a little more about what makes new engineers tick at Greenhouse. Here’s what I learned.

It’s true. Greenhouse hires lots of engineers who have never worked as a software engineer elsewhere. This pool includes bootcamp grads, recent college grads, and people moving from other roles at the company.

We hire from a variety of coding bootcamps.

We are pretty agnostic to engineers’ primary programming language. Our engineers’ first languages are evenly split among Javascript, Ruby, Java and the C family. These numbers are a good proxy for who studied computer science in college (in Java / C), and who is self-taught or attended a bootcamp (in Ruby / Javascript).

Our interviewers have realistic expectations when meeting engineers with non-traditional coding backgrounds.

Some survey quotes support this assertion pretty well too!

It was clearly known that I was in another department completely unrelated to tech.

Some companies I interviewed at were understanding that this was my first role, but I would say the majority were skeptical until proven wrong or, in the worst case, only seemed to want to point out what knowledge bootcamp grads lack rather than what they can learn to do.

The description indicated that the role was a good fit for bootcamp grads; during the interview it was made clear that that GH is focused not only on growing as a company, but also growing their employees with the company.

I knew many people from my cohort and the previous cohort at App Academy who had applied and interviewed for my role, which made it clear there was interest in hiring a bootcamp grad.

Engineers also pointed out that the interview format helped them to show their best selves; they were given a choice of coding language and encouraged to consult documentation.

The result is that engineers stick around Greenhouse!

Greenhouse hired me when I was a few months out of Fullstack Academy. I accepted because I was convinced the company knew what it was getting in a new engineer. It doesn’t surprise me that the survey shows a lot of other new engineers felt the same way.

The main reason I’ve stuck around is that I think the company has fulfilled the other part of its interview bargain; I’ve gotten tons of mentorship and seen a clear path to promotion. Three and half years later, I’m leading complex projects and handling sensitive tickets on prod support.

About the survey

There are about 80 engineers at GH, including around 60 who write code day-to-day, 15 who work in customer support and 5 who comprise our IT team. I got 39 responses, delivered anonymously via Google forms.