According to Forbes, the most effective software engineers have hard coding, software design, and other programming-related skills. However, all applicants for software development jobs may possess the same hard skills. Then how can software or tech firms find the gem? The answer to that statement partly lies in the behavioral and soft skills necessary for a successful software development career.
Every applicant is fluent in essential coding and mathematical skills. Yet, very few might be able to adapt, deliver work on time, be vigilant to unforeseen circumstances and collaborate in teams.
Suppose you’re about to graduate college, planning to take your software development career to the next level, or thinking of making a career switch to software development. In that case, these nine tips will bring you closer to your goals.
- Upskilling as needed
Technology is an industry that changes constantly and is always evolving. If you go back two decades ago, fields like machine learning (ML), data science, or artificial intelligence (AI) were dormant. Not many people knew about these or the power they could hold in the future. However, there are plenty of resources for you to stay in touch with trends in the tech industry now. Awareness of these trends will help upskilling and improve your skills when required.
Learning never stops for a software developer. You won’t learn everything in college and will have to take extra courses or take part in bootcamps to learn additional programming languages. It may seem overwhelming, but every job within the tech field requires a different set of hard skills.
- Code-reading skills
Sometimes, you must read other people’s codes in your career. By improving coding skills, you can enhance your understanding of various codebases. As a successful software developer, make the time to read the documents and source code for frameworks or libraries in use. Other than that, you can study open-source projects on sites like GitHub. Especially if you work with a team of developers, make sure to do code reviews so that everyone understands each other’s work.
- Take it slow
Considering that you may need to upskill as an aspiring software developer, take things slow. If you’re learning a new programming language, focus on that for the time being. Working on more tasks than you can handle will slow down productivity and result in a lack of motivation. Not to mention, upskilling can be even more taxing if you have a full-time job on the side.
Stick with one resource once you’ve decided to learn something new or refine your talents. Many experts would divert you by advising; that you should first study XYZ language, that a specific library is a good resource, etc. Imagine that you began to take everyone’s advice; then, maintaining your learning objective could seem overwhelming and difficult. Instead, go slowly and deliberately.
- Build side projects
You might have a nagging notion, want to create an app to help those who forget to take their medication or have a passion project website in mind. If you’re interested in becoming a successful software developer, take that side project seriously. Most of the time, applicants hired as software developers are not those who graduated from prestigious colleges but actively practiced their skills.
Remember your first side project might not be something you are too proud of, but keep on going. The feeling of accomplishing something after working on it for weeks or months makes you feel successful as a developer.
- Active listening
Practice active listening if you share an office with a few other developers on your team. During meetings or work calls, focus on listening to the other person’s words. Sometimes, an intern might offer more valuable advice or a better idea than you proposed. And, of course, it helps you stay grounded as well.
Successful developers don’t shy away from actively listening and responding. They are not afraid to admit they are wrong and are more than willing to give advice when asked.
As previously noted, your job as a software developer may only go as far as your educational background or technical talents allow. The only thing that matters is how you discipline yourself. Some of the traits of a disciplined software developer are:
- Prioritizing quality over submitting work done in a haste
- Efficient at time management and focusing on high-value tasks only
- Inclination to look at the broader picture – focusing on the entire process, which includes team meetings, code reviews, etc.
One of the best ways of disciplining yourself is not to shy away from asking for help. Don’t let your ego and pride infiltrate your need to ask for help or know about something that intrigues you.
The most sought-after developer is the one with exceptional problem-solving skills. Companies and customers pay you for solving their problems with tech solutions. It’s not because they want to know the coding syntax or how algorithms work. Ease their burden by strategically solving their problems.
A tried and tested way of solving problems is to break down problems or goals into chunks. The big picture can be overwhelming and stress you to the point that you don’t want to work. For instance, you can’t build a website in a day. A lot of time and planning goes into perfecting every aspect. Let’s say you encounter a problem in one of the tasks in your project pipeline. Does it mean you abandon the task entirely or break it down into smaller portions that are easier to deal with? Of course, the latter.
- Learn design
As a software developer, you may not feel the need to understand design, but know that some level of basic design knowledge will give you an edge as a developer. There are plenty of tools out there like Adobe XD or Figma. You don’t have to master all; learn one or two. Apart from adding an extra skill to your resume, you can also enhance your knowledge in design and UX.
- Collaborate with other developers
Collaboration may not be one of your strongest attributes if you work as a remote software developer. However, it is one that you should work on. Collaborating with other developers also helps build essential communication and problem-solving skills. Working with a team will help you manage your time effectively and hold yourself accountable.
Software development is one of the most rewarding careers of the 21st century, given the technological boom. If you’re planning to switch to this field or looking for ways to enhance your pace of work, these nine tips can help start.