Tuesday, May 07 2013

How to Train Your New Software Engineer

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The Ins and Outs of New Hire Success

Bringing on a new employee is the end of the tedious searching and interviewing process, but it is only the beginning of integrating that person into your existing team. The training process for a newly hired software engineer depends on the company and the individual’s level of experience; regardless, there are some basic guidelines—and some pitfalls to avoid—when it comes to getting the best out of your new hire.

Specificity

The most important factor in a training program for a recently onboarded software engineer is to make it specific. Break out small steps, as opposed to only focusing on a larger, more vague plan. Give your new hire specific tasks, with measurable results.

Identify the areas your new hire will need to become comfortable with: company-specific tools, platforms, and code base; the development process for new concepts; and the details of any new job environment.

Resources

While larger companies frequently have the resources and budget to hold classes, send new hires to conferences, and provide focused, long-term, one-on-one training, smaller organizations cannot afford the expense and loss of productivity that those options entail. Much of this knowledge can be acquired intuitively over time, but the purpose of the training program is to speed up the acquisition of knowledge so that you can quickly have a productive employee.

A focus on books and online training can replace expensive classes and seminars. Reading the code and code reviews, staples of most software engineer training programs, are still highly beneficial for learning the environment, though they run the risk of making the new hire feel like they’re being put under a microscope prematurely.

Timeline

The obvious pitfalls of many training programs are that they either overwhelm with new information, or proceed so slowly that your new employee is bored. Balancing new information with preexisting knowledge can be difficult; many say the best ratio is 50% prior knowledge (such as simple problem-solving, reviewing the code base, development methodologies, or working with a familiar interface) and 50% new learning (such as company-specific systems and complex architecture).

Learning from a base of knowledge is the general key to a successful training strategy. By gaining familiarity with the newest member’s background and prior experience, you’ll be able to build off that platform as you introduce new concepts and requirements. Start with small goals to keep them excited and productive, and build upon each day’s successes.

A Good Investment

A new employee has immense long-term potential to benefit a company, but the initial training stages will create a temporary drain on your resources, as current employees will have to take time to train the new hire. If you can balance this short-term loss of productivity with a customized, effective training program, you’ll see an exceptional return for your efforts, in the form of another dedicated, enthusiastic, competent employee.

 

If you are looking for software engineering talent in California, contact the staffing experts at The Armada Group today.