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Essential soft skills for developers to fast forward career growth

by Aripriya Basu July 6, 2020
soft skills for developers

What exactly happens when a developer goes for an interview?

After the initial discussion, they are generally made to sit for a machine test. This is followed by another round of discussion with the team lead and finally an HR round.

If the outcome from all the steps match the company requirement, the candidate is hired.

Simple right?

But there are other important things to concentrate on if you want to ace as a developer.

Of course, your knowledge, the grip on particular tools and platforms are important. But in addition to your hard skills, your soft skills must be focused upon.

This leads to a very important question

What are soft skills?

As per the Oxford dictionary, soft skills are characteristics of individuals that help them communicate effectively and harmoniously with others.

In simple terms, these skills will help you showcase your talent and knowledge to others.

But are these skills very important for developers?

They are truly are!

Think about it, a software development project is teamwork where every individual work together and support each other to meet a common goal.

Now, if some of the team members are unapproachable, cannot communicate or lack the passion for work, the whole team and the project suffers.

This leads to a negative impact on the team and the company.

Sounds bad right?

However, it can be fixed if you learn and try to follow these soft skills that every developer must-have.

Communication

This is a crucial soft skill that is required both while talking to teammates and clients.

Since a major part of a developer’s task is service delivery to clients, communicating effectively with them is crucial.

The following pointers can help you communicate better:

  • Listen carefully: No matter who you are talking to, your teammate or client, always be patient.
  • Listen to the problems they are facing. Half of the issue is solved right there.
  • Always remember, a good communicator has to be a good listener.
  • Do not interrupt: This again applies to both clients and colleagues. Do not cut them in between. Let them finish what they have to say and then share your thoughts.
  • Speak clearly and with confidence: This is one rule you should never forget. If you are sure about your work, speak with confidence.
  • Take your time, gather your thoughts and words. Be very clear with them and speak with confidence.

Time management

Developers are busy people. They have to work, code, think, create and discuss new ideas with the team.

All these activities are time-consuming, and if you don’t know how to manage your time, you might not be able to get things done.

Thus, plan in advance. Think about how much time you are willing to spend on each activity.

However, working for a long time at a stretch can be taxing. Thus make sure you take frequent breaks to refresh yourself.

There are multiple techniques like Pomodoro or Kannan, that you can use to multitask.

However, since multitasking is a big part of developer jobs, make sure you create a prioritized list of activities.

Such a list will help you to get things done quickly.

Adaptability

This is not a word that should only be used to decorate your resume. In the life of a developer, this word plays a huge role.

As a tech worker, you must know that software and hardware evolve very quickly.

Many of the tools and programs that you had perhaps used earlier in your career has become obsolete.

But that does not mean you get uncomfortable with the new technologies.

Hiring managers and firms are always looking for developers who can adapt to new technologies.

Adapting to change will help you to a great extent. In addition to the technical stack, changes in the workplace should not disturb you.

Being open to change is a quality that must be absorbed.

Work ethic

It is impossible to work eight hours at a stretch with no breaks in between. Thankfully, no company expects it’s developers to do that.

Chit chats, coffee/tea breaks are always welcome and necessary. Having said that, no company wants to micromanage it’s employees either.

As a developer, it’s your job to complete your coding and development work within the deadline. How you manage your task depends on your ethics.

Being punctual with your delivery, arriving at the workplace or logging in on time, producing error-free work are all a part of your work ethics.

Be ethical and take all the break you need.

Teamwork

No development project can be completed solo, you will have to be a part of a team.

Be it a team of developers or designers, it will take a group effort to complete a given project.

Thus being a team player is a soft skill that every developer has to learn. Indeed working in a team has its challenges.

Many a time you may not agree with your teammate, but you have to negotiate with them patiently.

Working in a team can help you learn new techniques and also help you improve your communication skills.

Trainability

A developer should ideally be ready to be molded. Their willingness to learn and unlearn determines how far they will go in their life.

Rigidity does not work in most cases. Thus, if you want to grow both in your professional field and your personal life be ready to be trained.

Of course, you may know quite a bit about your field, but always be ready to learn new things.

Trainability always depends on the individual’s mindset. So harvest a mindset that is inclined towards learning and absorbing new things.

Humility

In the words of Thomas Moore “Humility, that low, sweet root, from which all heavenly virtues shoot.

A wise person is always humble. Yes, you may know a great deal about your work, but don’t let your knowledge make you proud.

Instead, use it to help out your clients and colleagues in distress. If possible, teach them a few things when you have time.

Your skillset should be directed towards helping others. It should not make you unapproachable, or arrogant.

Empathy

As mentioned earlier, as a developer, you will be a part of a team. A team can only perform better where there is empathy amongst the teammates

Being empathetic will help you understand the problems that your team members are facing.

Such an environment allows individuals to share ideas as there is sure to be no negative feedback or mockery.

Of course, there might not be agreement all the time, but when empathy exists in a team the environment is positive.

Empathy allows one to predict the reactions of others. That means it’s possible to change the way one speaks.

These points can help you to be more empathic towards your colleagues:

  • If you do not agree with an idea, ask yourself why you don’t like it. Organize your thoughts, and then begin by giving positive feedback.
  • Follow that by saying what you did not like and then conclude by saying something positive.
  • Try to understand the situation from other’s points of view.

This also applies to the clients and end-users of your products. Since they will be the ones using your program, it’s important to understand how they will feel about a particular app or platform.

This way empathy can help you be a better developer.

While focusing on your hard skills, do not ignore your soft skills. You are a developer later, human first.

Make yourself a fine person, and become a valuable asset for your team and company.