Why You Need Soft Skills as a Software Developer
1 Jul 2021
1 July 2021
6 min read
Soft skills are personal attributes and characteristics you need to succeed in the workplace. Gone are the days when the only expectations from developers were focused on their technical skills. In the software industry today, you need more than just technical skills to succeed in the workplace.
At your various jobs, you need technical knowledge and abilities to perform your roles and responsibilities at work. But what makes you stand out as a high performer needs some additional qualities such as the ability to communicate effectively, the ability to work with others, and also manage your time more effectively. These are some of the examples of soft skills you will be needing to thrive in a workplace.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are non-technical skills that relate to how you work. Soft skills are character traits or personality traits that help employees thrive in the workplace. Soft skills have more to do with who you are (soft skills), rather than what you know (hard skills),
Differences between soft skills and hard skills
Soft skills are personal traits that shape how you thrive in the workplace while hard skills are technical knowledge or training gained through experience, education, training, etc. Hard skills are also known as technical skills such as computer programming, graphics design, software testing, UI/UX design, etc. are easier to learn compared to soft skills.
|Soft Skills||Hard Skills|
|Conflict management||Data mining|
|Critical thinking||Machine learning|
|Work ethics||Technical writing|
Why are soft skills important?
Soft skills are as important as hard skills(technical skills) because as a developer, you will want to join a new company, negotiate a contract, look for new clients, work in teams, present an idea to your new colleagues, and so on. We use soft skills in our everyday life, so developing these soft skills will enable you to accelerate your career.
Let's look at a scenario:
Mr. A: Software developer with 5 years experience with no soft skills
Mr. B: Software developer with 5 years experience & good soft skills
As a hiring manager, who would you employ?
Definitely, Mr. B because though he had the same working experience with Mr. A, he had other things he was bringing to the table aside from his technical skills.
There are many reasons why soft skills are important:
- It makes you stand out,
- It enables you to be able to collaborate with your team,
- It makes you gain confidence,
- it helps you develop leadership qualities,
- The future of work will rely on soft skills,
- Soft skills are in high demand by recruiters.
Essential Soft Skills Every Developer Should Have
In this article, I will be listing some of the essential soft skills every developer should have or develop to be able to thrive in their workplace. Some of these soft skills include:
Communication is one of the most crucial soft skills every developer should possess. You should also keep in mind that communication is a two-way road meaning you have to listen and also be able to express yourself.
The key to effective communication is listening, do not interrupt when others are talking, instead listen and only chime in your thoughts after.
Whether a developer works onsite or remotely, they should be able to communicate with other members of the team such as project managers, designers, engineering managers, and so on. At some point, the developer should also be able to communicate with the end-users. A developer needs to be able to communicate effectively with all platforms such as Video calls, face-to-face, via emails, phones, slack channels, etc.
You should note that what you say and how you say it can have an impact on how people feel about you.
"If you want to walk fast, walk alone. But if you want to walk far, walk together - Ratan Tata "
Teamwork is essential in the workplace. For a business to grow and function effectively, people must work together in other to achieve the company goals and objectives. Software development involves working with teams. If you are a developer at a company, you need to work with a UI/UX designer, PMs and also collaborate with other developers to achieve a common goal or project. If you do not have a good teamwork skillset, you might struggle to work with members of the team thereby hindering the progress of the project.
Putting yourself in other people’s shoes is the best way to describe empathy. As a developer, we spend most of our time writing code without taking time to understand our users, customers, and client. Understanding people's characteristics, belief systems, abilities will benefit you. You will be able to adjust to address their needs and take them into account when building. You don’t need to be a UX designer or user researcher to be able to show empathy. Being empathetic starts with you being human and aware of other people's needs and wants.
Time management skills
Time management is an important soft skill every developer must-have. working under pressure and meeting up with deadlines are part of the things developers face every day. Trying to do more than one thing at once is not an efficient way to manage time and can often lead to you being stressed out and disorganized. Time management is a way of managing your time for a specific task. This allows you to manage your task so you can be more productive as possible. As a developer, you must be time conscious, learn how to prioritize your task, complete them before it becomes urgent or before it gets to the deadline.
Software development is a long process that requires patience. From design to implementation, to testing, deployment, updates, fixing bugs, etc. most of these activities take time and lack of patience can cause more harm than good. Also, learn how to be patient with yourself, and it will be easier to be patient with others.
We all know that software development is all about solving complex problems. From implementing a design to building a mobile application, fixing bugs and all. It’s always about solving problems. As a developer, at some point in your career, you are going to face a problem. This could happen regularly, weekly, or rarely but it is inevitable. How you handle problems will have a big impact on your career and also on the company you work for.
In the workplace, employers look for leadership qualities in developers. They want to determine whether you can manage situations and also manage people.
Technology keeps advancing, so should you. If you look back to decades ago, you will find out that lots of things have changed. Software developers also need to be able to adapt to a situation like this. Employers will value developers who can adapt to this change and are willing to learn through training, or conducting their research.
Developers are prone to making mistakes. Some might go unnoticed while some can affect the project. However, accepting ownership of one’s mistake is a soft skill every developer must possess. A mistake is bound to happen, and it should be learned from and not repeated
How to develop Soft Skills
Even though soft skills are not easily learned like technical skills, they can certainly be developed and improved over time. The first step in developing soft skills is recognizing the areas in which you need to improve. This can take place through asking for feedback from trusted colleagues or friends, personal reflection, evaluation of your performance at work. After you have gained awareness of your strengths and weakness, create a plan of action to improve on your weaknesses.
There are several ways to develop soft skills:
- Ask for feedback from trusted colleagues and friends,
- Consider taking online soft skills courses that will help you learn skills that would be useful in the workplace,
- If you are looking at improving your communication skills, you should consider public speaking or take a course to be an effective public speaker,
- Observe others who have the same soft skills you want to improve on. if you have a relationship with them, ask them for advice and coaching,
- Practice: All skills involve practicing including soft skills. Once you have undergone training, practicing your newfound skills with friends and family will go a long way in preparing you for the workplace.
All soft skills outlined in this article complement each other. For example, having great communication skills can help you to easily collaborate with your team members and client. Being a great team player can in turn help you be more confident in yourself and also help improves your accountability skills. Also managing people will require you to develop your leadership skills and help you develop empathy towards others.
Another important point to remember is that soft skills take time to develop. Just like learning technical skills, it can take months or even years.
At this point, I hope I have made it clear enough that soft skills are valuable skills every software developer must-have. A developer who possesses soft skills in addition to your technical skills will be crucial for the future of work.
Thanks for reading!
Don't forget to sign up to WorksHub for more articles like this one!
👩🏽💻Front-End Engineer ✍🏽Technical Writer 🚀 Co-organiser @vuejsngSee other articles by AMAECHI