Let’s face it — hard skills are not enough anymore. Even though software developers spend a large part of their day working independently, they need to know how to collaborate with other team members. So, what soft skills should software developers have and what makes a great developer?
The software industry emphasizes technical skills, but soft skills are what differentiates coders from superstar software developers. For the record, soft skills and hard ones are equally important to 77% of employers.
In spite of appearances, developers are not antisocial hoodie-wearing, basement-dwelling nerds. Even if they are not naturally gifted orators, they can give valuable insights if given the chance. Here are the top soft skills that can help software developers improve their career.
Developers spend a lot of time communicating on projects, and great ideas come when people feel comfortable sharing their experiences. It’s also easier to solve a problem in a team focused on strong collaboration.
Remember that effective communication is spending as much time listening as you do talking. It’s a golden rule when you want to interact with others efficiently, both in person and through messaging apps. Plus, effective communication can help solve problems before they get bigger, so you should report issues as soon as they happen.
Overall, communication skills are a mixture of verbal and nonverbal communication and listening. It helps when you give feedback, but also when you get feedback from testers so that you can improve the quality of the product in development.
Effective internal communication leads to success. However, it’s not only about how you communicate internally with your team, but also the ability to explain the process to clients. Keep in mind that effective communication comes with clarity and respect, so you should know how to convey a clear “no” without ever saying the word when the client is heading down the wrong path. It makes better client management.
Patience for team and clients
Speaking of communication, software developers should be patient. Patience works wonders, for instance, when programmers collaborate with non-developers and need to explain things in a nontechnical way. Or when the client is asking to add “simple functionality” without realizing the scope of work that it requires.
It’s also about being approachable, so you should find time to discuss things that are important for the development process.
There could be situations when you need to start again, as coding can be challenging and you can meet some change requests on the way. It can be frustrating, but the ability to manage change logs and make changes when needed leads to creating successful products.
Adaptability in changing environment
Fast-moving projects require willingness to take on tasks and a more flexible approach to your work. Handling changes in the environment of development and the ability to adapt to new programming languages or frameworks is what can help you get ahead faster.
Keep in mind that projects can evolve. Sometimes there’s a need for switching the team and adjusting to new requirements. And sometimes it’s good to shuffle the employee deck and create different teams for certain projects. It’s all about teamwork.
Soft skills that software developers often miss: honesty and open-mindedness
Always tell the truth, but in a conflict-free way. There’s nothing wrong with having different points of view, but knowing how to present them to create successful project really pays off.
Honesty and transparency improve integrity in the workplace, so it’s much easier to make the project go as planned. Bearing this in mind, don’t be afraid to tell management when something goes wrong with the project. Also, avoid situations that may lead to misleading others. Admitting your mistakes earns you respect and makes you look strong.
What also helps here is an open minded personality. Bearing in mind that an open minded person is more eager to accept or suggest new ideas and solutions creates a friendly environment where people feel free to express thoughts and share impressions.
Managing time efficiently and focusing on what’s most important helps you meet the deadline. Exceptional time management skills are mirrored in monitoring the time spent on developing the product and making sure that it will be delivered on time.
Besides planning and prioritizing your work, you should report any issues that may cause a project delay. If it turns out that you need more time to complete the project, report this immediately. Always keep both your team and clients up to date.
Also know when to log off. Effective work is not about spending 24/7 in front of the screen.
Software developers with a problem-solving mindset
There’s no question that the developer will sooner or later meet problems on the way. This is why you should be able to deal with failures and stay keen on taking on complex problems. Take initiative and apply creative thinking to problem-solving as soon as you find solutions to moving the project forward. What you need is a flexible approach with curiosity and empathy so that you’ll be able to perceive a product from the client or user’s perspective.
What’s also appreciated is when the developer takes responsibility for their mistakes. It creates the opportunity to analyze what went wrong, how the mistake can be fixed, and how to avoid similar situations.
You can learn from your mistakes, avoid them, and use your experience for getting ongoing projects on the right track. Your experience can also help you assess the progress of the project and make estimates.
Soft skills really matter
As you can see, technical skills are not the only factor that makes or breaks a software developer’s career, but they are equally important. Focusing only on hard skills usually won’t lead to having an efficient team of developers that will deliver quality software on time.
The perfect combination is a blend of technical and soft skills. As a developer, you should harbour skills that go beyond coding and fixing bugs. And the good news is that many of them can be learned and mastered.