Juniors at Cambium

The tech juniors crisis: 700 CVs for 20 jobs

With many more experienced workers in the market due to layoffs and downsizing, the lives of those trying to make their way into the tech industry are becoming much more difficult. Why do companies continue to recruit employees without experience and how can you increase the chances of being accepted?

Two weeks ago, the software company Cambium Applicable Innovation, whose offices are in Dimona in southern Israel, launched a campaign to recruit 20 employees without experience, for mobile and cloud projects. Within 72 hours, the company received 700 resumes from graduates of academic institutions in the Negev, and graduates of well-known 'boot camp' programs. After the flood of resumes, the company decided to take down the campaign, but applications still continued to arrive.
"I was surprised by the amount of resumes, even though I knew how much quality human capital there is in the Negev. Obviously, the situation in the economy right now is not easy, but I still think there is a great opportunity here. If only companies understood what quality personnel there is here. There are companies that are going to buy software development in all sorts of places when they have here a much more committed workforce, women and men who have completed high-quality training in software and want to continue living in the Negev. We are today the only software project company south of Be'er Sheva and we hope that other companies will also see this and this reality will change," says Shira Salzer, co-founder and director of employee welfare and marketing in the company.
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עובדים בחברת קמביום ג'וניורים
עובדים בחברת קמביום ג'וניורים
Juniors at Cambium
(Photo: Alon Alshich)
The recruitment of the juniors to Cambium is done as part of the Israel Innovation Authority's high-tech startup program, with the later subsidizing part of the salary when companies undertake to hire workers without experience and absorb them as company employees from day one. In addition, the companies undertake to provide them with training, mentoring and feedback for six months. The employees should be graduates of academic institutions or graduates of recognized boot camp programs. "We provide a full package to jump-start the careers of the juniors who come to us. There are structured feedback processes with the team leaders, evaluation and improvement of the code quality with the help of experienced programmers in the company, as well as learning within the company of technological skills, development tools and also of soft skills needed in the world of employment," she says.
Cambium was founded 14 years ago in Yeruham by David Salzer and was based on juniors from its first day. Over time, the company has built a layer of technological leaders who know how to take a beginner programmer and turn them into a professional. Cambium was acquired about five years ago by the global company Matrix, which gives it the necessary ability to locate and train workers at the beginning of their career. "Today we employ 80 people from all sectors in the Negev, and although this year we entered the high-tech startup program, we have always been based on juniors. Almost everyone who leads with us today started as a junior, 70% of them. It is indeed an investment on the part of the organization because people do not deliver on the first day, but these are hardworking people with a lot of interest and passion and it's a matter of time until they become leaders. We strongly believe in it and invest quite a bit in it," says Salzer.
From the CVs received, Cambium filtered out around 90% and continued the process with the 10% that seemed relevant. "This is still more than we need to absorb, we asked candidates to attach a portfolio so that we can better examine the fit and now we are in the process of closing with 20 people."
Keen Cohen, director of the Lauder Center for the Promotion of Employment in the Negev, which specializes in creating quality employment opportunities in the Negev for young people, which was behind the recruitment campaign for Cambium, says that more and more companies are showing interest in recruiting these inexperienced employees. "The academic institutions in the Negev, including the academic and technological colleges, are currently training high-level development personnel. More and more companies are discovering the human capital that resides or is interested in settling in the Negev and realize that they must establish and expand development centers in the area."
The swarm on junior jobs in Dimona only illustrates the magnitude of the crisis in high-tech. It shows the great distress of those trying to get their first job in an industry that is still considered today, despite everything, to be the engine of the economy and offers better employment conditions than other sectors. The layoffs, the situation in the world, the introduction of AI and the war in Israel, meant that there are currently more candidates than jobs in the market. When there is a supply of experienced candidates who can deliver output from day one, fewer jobs open for inexperienced workers.
"In recent months we have witnessed an increase in traffic on AllJobs in most segments. On the side of the junior positions, we see an increase in certain positions: Full Stack programmers, JavaScript programmers, C#, Data Analyst, Backend Engineer implementation, training, as well as information systems implementers and HR Generalist. These are in-demand and relatively stable positions even in times of crisis. Many companies continue to invest in the development of technological products and require quality personnel in these fields," says Liat BenTora Shushan, Head of Career Development at AllJobs, operator of Techit.
At the sports-tech company WSC Sports, as of this writing, there are 5 open positions for juniors: two backend developer positions, two operation support positions and one product position. "Despite the difficult times in the country, many candidates are still interested in differentiating themselves. We are seeing an increase in the amount of submissions and processes for each job," says Michal Eyal, Talent Acquisition Team Leader at WSC Sports. "We believe in the development and growth of inexperienced employees. As part of the company's growth in recent years, we recruit juniors for a dedicated development team, and after about a year and a half, they move to development positions in other teams in the organization. Of course, we also recruit juniors in various departments in the organization, which creates growth opportunities and development of employees."
Overwolf, which employs 170 people in Israel and around the world, also has several jobs open to juniors. "In Israel, we are recruiting juniors for support and QA positions. In the current market, there are hundreds of candidates for each junior position in Israel," says Dana Barzilay, VP of People at Overwolf.
One of the ways to gain experience and gain an advantage in the market for juniors is to work in companies outside of Israel. For example in Greece. The Israel-Greece high-tech and innovation forum was recently launched by the Nisha company and the Israel-Greece Chamber of Commerce. This is a multi-year and two-way project that aims to create business collaborations between the two countries, and as a result also create opportunities for technological workers from both countries. Among them are also junior Israeli workers who will be able to do an internship in Greece, which will give them experience and skills when they return to work in Israel.
"We feel that in the last year the junior population is having difficulty finding work in the high-tech market, since nowadays companies are looking to recruit experienced talents who are able to integrate into tasks in a short time and help the company meet its goals. At the same time, even when the market was in high tide, the State of Israel had difficulty integrating them into technology companies, especially in times of lower demand. It should be remembered that the high-tech market has been volatile due to various factors in recent years, and we have no doubt that the tide will return," says Dana Lavi, CEO of the Nisha Group, which is part of the Human Resources Division of the Danel Group.
"The connection to nearby countries can help the growth of a two-way economy, and the physical proximity allows them to more easily do an internship in a foreign country and return to Israel. Also, Israeli companies that want to retain employees can send them for a temporary work period in Greece, a two-hour flight away. This is a two-way connection of personnel between the countries, which will ultimately help the high-tech economy in Israel." Lavi adds that the positions most in demand in Greece today and can be relevant for junior jobs are in software, cybersecurity, system and IT.
Another way to increase the chance of being accepted for a junior position is to integrate into training programs that are done in partnership with various technology companies that allow to gain experience. Jessica Kane is a junior programmer at the cyber company Flow Security, which was acquired last week by CrowdStrike. "I was 26 years old when I decided to build a career as a software engineer, and I couldn't shake the feeling that I missed the train. Because the developers who competed against me for junior positions already had previous practical experience, most of them served as developers in various intelligence units in the IDF," she says. After some research, she decided to join the career development program of Israel Tech Challenge. During the program she was trained as a developer and also got the opportunity to connect with the cyber company in order to gain experience.
"From the moment I was interviewed for the project, I realized that I wanted to integrate into the company as a permanent employee. I found myself surrounded by people who had so much to teach me and who were also excited to teach me as much as I was excited to learn. I learned about using new technologies every day, and I was expected to incorporate them into my work a few hours after I learned about them. The hard work I invested in my project proved itself, and based on the hard work and determination I demonstrated in the field, I was told that they wanted me to continue working for the company," she says.
Despite the difficulty in the market and perhaps because of it, Salzer believes that employers should give a chance to employees at the beginning of their career. "Everyone who is a senior or a leader today was a junior at some point. Someone had to take them to work and believe in them."