When building a resume or boasting about your skills in an interview, it’s important to focus not only on your hard skills that are directly related to your field of study and chosen career but on your soft skills as well. Everyone needs soft skills to help them communicate and interact with others, no matter what kind of work they are doing.
But those in technical fields, such as developers, would do well to particularly focus on honing their soft skills. There used to be a time when developers could get away with simply having excellent technical skills and nothing more. So long as you could get the software development and coding done well, many employers didn’t see the need to expect much more.
Today, however, companies are moving away from seeing their employees as just a means to an end. Instead, companies want well-rounded employees who can contribute to the company in more ways than just offering up their hard skills.
This means it’s time to start working on those soft skills in addition to the hard, technical experience if you want to become a better developer and land a good job. In addition to your developer skills, you need to have good communication and people skills that enable you to work well collaboratively across teams and better understand the needs of clients and customers.
So let’s take a look at the top seven soft skills that are ideal for software developers to have if they want to grow in their careers and achieve success:
Communication is one of the soft skills everyone should have. Whether you work for a company or freelance, you need to be able to effectively communicate with others to have greater success with your projects. This means you need to know how to clearly communicate your thoughts and ideas in a professional manner, but you also need to be a good listener to understand the wants and needs of others.
As a developer, you might have a bad habit of relying on your quality technical skills to get the job done, but if you want to grow in your career, you need to learn how to better communicate. Clear communication, focused listening, and understanding are key skills to have when interacting with colleagues and clients.
Another soft skill developers tend to lack, but is crucial to have, is empathy. Understandably, when you spend most of your day working with computers and machines, you can forget how to talk to people with empathy and understanding, but these are important qualities to have.
The software you are developing is likely meant to be used by humans, so you need to understand humans to create a program that works for them. It’s also important to have empathy when you are working with colleagues and clients because the more you understand them and where they are coming from, the better you can work together and get the job done.
Good communication and empathy go a long way with clients and customers. So the more empathetic and understanding you are, the more likely you are to build a loyal client or customer base, which is essential to growing your career and having success.
As you are likely well aware, software development is not an easy job. From the moment you start working on a new project through to testing and deployment, there are a million things that could go wrong. Add in constant changes and updates, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed or fall behind. So patience is an essential soft skill to have in this industry.
If you get frustrated over every little setback or hiccup, it’s going to make your job ten times worse. However, if you can go into every project with patience and a level head, knowing that things will go wrong, you are more likely to come out on the other side less stressed and more successful.
In addition to having patience, being able to take whatever setbacks come your way also requires having an open mind. Not all projects are going to go your way. In fact, it’s important to be able to put your own wants aside as a developer and be able to have an open mind in regards to what others think and want.
You are the expert in the field, sure, but that doesn’t mean you are always right. When developing programs and software for others, it is crucial that you can use your hard skills while also keeping the wants and needs of others in mind. Having an open mind is also key to opening yourself to trying something new and experimenting.
Furthermore, being open-minded allows you to more easily accept feedback and improve your skills and your work. There is always room for growth; remember that. No matter how good you are now, you can always improve, and keeping an open mind will allow you to expand and grow.
Adaptability goes somewhat hand-in-hand with having an open mind. Having an open mind allows you to be open to new ideas or challenges, and being adaptable enables you to take those new ideas or potential setbacks and run with them. As a developer, you never know what might go wrong or what changes you might be asked to make, so having an adaptable mindset allows you to more easily roll with the punches and get the job done no matter what happens.
Being open-minded and adaptable are also crucial skills to have when it comes to delivering a quality product for the customer. Developers who have these skills are more likely to build engaging apps and programs that ensure a better customer journey and experience. Because the more you can understand and adapt to what the customer needs, the better product you will deliver.
6. Critical Thinking
Of course, critical thinking is one of the most important soft skills you can have when you work as a developer. Your job is highly technical, which means you need highly technical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Software development is complex, and it requires a lot of attention to detail, so if you are lacking in your problem solving, critical thinking, and decision-making skills, you will likely find yourself struggling to complete projects.
You need to be able to look at a project from all angles, go through a step-by-step decision-making or analysis process, and then you can start deciding what needs to be done.
Last but not least, having a creative mindset is also good when you work as a developer. Though your job does rely more heavily on technical thinking, it is always good to be able to think outside the box and see things from a more creative angle.
Only thinking technically can sometimes be limiting and can keep you from trying new things. You might even find yourself getting stuck or feeling stagnant with your work if you don’t look at things with a more creative mindset.
So every good, well-rounded developer should have some creative skills to help them when projects potentially require a more unorthodox approach, or to help you overall tackle things with a more open, and creative mind.
If you want to experience more growth and success as a software developer and open yourself up to new opportunities, it’s a good idea to work on honing these soft skills. Today, employers look for developers that have a more well-rounded set of skills, rather than just the technical hard skills. So if you want to get hired and have a successful career, you need to have an array of soft skills to complement your technical abilities.