4 Soft Skills That Every Developer Needs
Any well-seasoned software developer would tell you that sometimes soft skills are as necessary, if not even more significant than technical skills.
Many younger software developers think that technical skills are what makes a successful developer in their success in their profession.
Unexpectedly they are hit with the reality that a well-built piece of code won’t get them as far as they would expect.
When they start a career, a young developer will notice that a successful developer has a mixture of technical skills but also a strong set of soft skills. Since many of these skills are not taught in school here are some pointers for you to keep in mind too when developing your soft skills. If you are interested in hard skills that employers desire, check out the 7 Most-Searched Technical Skills!
Skill #1: Learn How to Market Your Skills
In a perfect environment, your hard work will be noticed by your team and managers. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world, and your hard work doesn’t get the limelight that it deserves.
You need to take ownership for your contribution to the team and learn how to communicate it so it can be noticed and recognized.
What you need to do, is put yourself in your manager’s shoes and understand what is more important to them. Most likely they will not sift through each line of your code and assess your success through the way that you code but they will identify your performance on these pointers:
- How well do you commutate with managers in meeting and on projects
- The presentations that you present
- Your reputation in the office and on your team
- How you communicate with your team
For you to control the future of your career, it is essential that you understand how you can present your work.
The best way to do this is by sharing information about your work to management that they might find relevant to current and future projects for the company.
Here are some successful ways to show your hard work:
- Be sure to mention which parts of the project that you took ownership in. The best places for this conversation to happen is in 1-on-1’s or group meetings.
- Mention the times you spent outside of work to help complete a project
- This tip aligns with having a strong relationship with your teammates and in team meetings having your team speak highly of you and your hard work is much more potent than you saying you work so hard.
This goes without saying, but don’t share incorrect or false information to your managers. A little lie might get you ahead for a bit but the truth always comes out and being accused as a liar is much more damaging than the little bit of glory that you might receive.
Skill #2: Time Management
The best part of being a software developer is the amount of liberty you have with your job compared to other occupations. With all of this freedom being able to manage your time is vital for your success.
So what does time management look like for a software developer? An excellent example of this is when faced with more exciting tasks it’s important that you tackle the more time pertinent tasks first and try not to get distracted.
Developers also tend to be distracted in a deep hole of tech; then they realize they are faced with a deadline for a project that they forgot about.
Properly managing your time means tackling the biggest elephant in the room and its procrastination. The biggest perk of being a software developer is your job is complexly on your computer, and you can spend some time looking at funny videos and catching up on the latest news but don’t this distract you. Procrastination will be the death of you and can take away from hard deadlines.
Time management is more than deadlines, but it’s also about your timeliness to meetings. As any software developer would know, meetings are going to be a part of your everyday life and showing up to a meeting late follows with the negative costs:
- Impacting your relationship with your co-workers
- Losing time to repeat what you missed
- It shows that you are undependable
Let me be clear it’s perfectly fine to stay in the office to finish a project so you can meet a deadline. But staying late in the office regularly and doing all-nighters can have adverse effects on your health and your personal life. Having a healthy work-life balance is something easier said than done and holding yourself accountable is essential.
In the software development community, it may seem apart of the culture to stay up late and always stay online on vacation, but what you need to remember is that unplugging can help improve your productivity vs. decreasing it.
Skill #3: Socialization
Sometimes, it may not necessarily be your skill level or personality that will land you a great job. Often, the best job opportunities come from knowing the right people and having the right network. There are several obvious benefits to having keen socialization skills:
- Introduction to even more people
- Flexibility in procedures
- Receiving assistance from a wide variety of skilled workers
- Exposed to more job opportunities
An excellent method to start getting to know someone is to get to know their work. When you come across an interesting article or an especially engaging seminar, you should reach out and give your thanks as well as your honest opinion on the topics of interest. A simple way to reach out to people you would love to get to know is to shoot them an email. If you get into a great conversation, then that would be a great reason to meet up with them in person or even go for lunch.
It is also good to keep networking and socialization in mind when you run into a problem with your work. Most of the time, reaching out to co-workers will return enthusiastic responses to promising assistance. Even if the co-worker in question is unavailable or unable to help, they are more than likely to point you in the direction of someone who can.
Another excellent opportunity for networking is the numerous group leisure activities that your company is sure to have. Sports nights, company dinners, and game nights are all great events for meeting new work contacts and expanding your network of peers. However, beyond meeting new connections, it is just as vital to build positive relationships with the ones you already have. You shouldn’t just contact people when you need them for something. Instead, make sure to keep in touch by:
- Going to grab lunch, dinner, or coffee
- Send them occasional emails to catch up or talk about similar topics that you’re both working on
- Send them articles, research, and other documents that you think will be of use to them
Lastly, it is also a great idea to strengthen your network by introducing your contacts to each other. Just be sure both parties are willing to socialize before actually introducing them to avoid awkward situations.
Skill #4: Receptiveness
In the tech field, being receptive to new ideas is crucial. It allows you the resilience necessary to succeed within the constantly-changing nature of our jobs.
One facet of being open-minded is the ability to hear the input of others. If we fully perceive and comprehend what others say, we have the opportunity to:
- Gather new information
- Create new ideas that are derived from the ideas of others
- More efficiently address the task at hand
- Reduce the number of unnecessary discussions during meetings
Narrow-minded developers enter talks hoping to force their ideas upon others. When others are speaking, there is a lack of listening because they are solely focused on taking the next chance available to speak again. This behavior can be explained by self-pride, inflexibility, or habit.
Being receptive does not mean we are obligated to agree with all the information that is presented to us. It is not a requirement to let people walk all over you, or to lose your ability to say “no” to anything.
Receptiveness simply refers to the action of adapting our beliefs and judgment. Sometimes, it’s easy to become susceptible to the idea that because a concept or method is unfamiliar, you should not attempt to understand it. This could entail a new project management method, a software tool, or an organizational adjustment.
Just as we are continually evolving and improving our technical skills, our soft skills such as receptiveness and socialization also need attention. Although we may be more logically inclined as tech workers, we also need to make sure that our people skills are up to date. After all, soft skills are a vital component of any job, and we need them to be in tip-top shape to reach our full potential.