LinkedIn hires software engineers from nontraditional backgrounds

LinkedIn this year started piloting a six-month apprenticeship program, recruiting software engineers from nontraditional career paths, such as those who learned programming through a boot camp.

These 29 apprentices gained more job experience, but most also landed jobs at LinkedIn, the company said Thursday.

About 80 percent of the apprentices were offered a software engineering job at LinkedIn and 96 percent chose to accept.

The apprenticeship program, which LinkedIn calls REACH, illustrates how Silicon Valley tech firms are rethinking how they hire.

“Many of these individuals wouldn’t have initially passed hiring screens at LinkedIn or other companies because their backgrounds—schools attended, degrees received, prior work experience, etc.—didn’t match the typical path of a software engineer,” wrote Shalini Agarwal, LinkedIn’s director of engineering and product and head of the REACH program, in a blog post.

And as tech firms struggle to create a more diverse workforce, apprenticeship programs might be one way they could get people from underrepresented backgrounds in the door. LinkedIn kept the program small with 29 apprentices, but the company had more than 761 applicants.

More than half of LinkedIn’s apprentices were women, and more than a third were underrepresented minorities.

“Based on the number of offers we extended at the end of the program, we believe that when hiring for tech positions, willingness to learn and attitude is on par with experience as long as you’re willing to invest in helping people grow their skills,” Agarwal wrote.

LinkedIn said it plans to continue this program and will share more information in early 2018 about the timeline and application process.

Photo: A LinkedIn employee walks past a company logo at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View in 2014. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)


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