Whether you’re an experienced software developer or new to the industry, there’s always something you can do to up your game. You’ll know how to create perfect code and how to understand your client’s brief. You’ll have a rigorous QA strategy in place to ensure your software functions right the first time, every time.
These are the hard skills that every software dev needs, but do you have the soft skills that can take you from being a good software developer to a great one?
First things first, you’ll need to know exactly what soft skills are. We’ll show you that, and how these soft skills can directly benefit you. Finally, we’ll run through the seven soft skills that all software professionals should know and develop.
What Are Soft Skills?
If coding and testing are hard skills for software developers, soft skills must be less important, right? Wrong! Soft skills are also sometimes called “core skills,” and that sums up just how vital they are. A 2020 study revealed that 97% of employers rated soft skills as being as important as, or more important than, hard skills.
In short, soft skills are skills that relate to you as a person and the people around you, rather than skills that are uniquely related to your job. They encompass a wide range of skills and attributes, as you’ll soon see, and they can bring real benefits to you, your employer, and your colleagues.
Source: National Soft Skills Association
What Can Soft Skills Do for You?
Doing well at your job is sure to bring benefits, whether that be creating a new piece of code, modifying a software solution, or implementing a SaaS SEO project. Improving your soft skills, however, can also help you:
- Stand out from the crowd.
- Get noticed by management.
- Get on better with colleagues.
- Achieve a more harmonious work/life balance.
The 7 Soft Skills You Need
1. Communication Skills
Everyone can talk, but not everyone can communicate. Being a software developer means understanding a whole new language: the language of code, with all the acronyms and technical terms that come with it. These terms may seem simple to you, but will all your colleagues understand them?
Work on your communication skills by considering carefully the language you use and tailoring it to your audience. Could you explain agile software testing to a computing novice, for example? By honing your communication soft skills you can reach out to more people.
2. Listening Skills
These first two soft skills go hand in hand: to be a great communicator, you also have to be a great listener. Remember that everyone you work with and speak to deserves to be listened to, and they may have information that will make your job easier. Put distractions to one side, and concentrate completely on the person who’s talking to you.
Keep an eye out for non-verbal communication signs too, as they can often reveal as much as what a person is saying. Experts in this field, such as Albert Mehrabian, assert that 93% of communication is non-verbal, so pay attention to what your colleagues and clients are saying, even when they’re silent.
Source: Open Learn
3. Teamwork Skills
Every software developer knows the importance of linking in their code, and of link building within web content, but it’s just as important to build links with your workmates. You spend around half of your working day with your colleagues, so developing your teamwork soft skills can make a big difference to how harmonious your workplace is.
As a software developer, you’ll be used to working on your initiative, but that doesn’t mean you can neglect the teamwork aspect. Working more cohesively with your colleagues will help you achieve better and quicker results; that’s sure to be noticed by those at the top of your company.
4. Patience Skills
Seeing your code in action, the final result of your programming work is one of the great joys of being a software developer. It’s essential, however, to concentrate just as fully on the intermediate stages as on the end goal. That means spending time checking your code, stress testing, and carrying out functional test procedures. That requires patience.
Having patience can often seem like a test of endurance, but it’s an essential aspect of the quality control process. By not racing ahead, you’re much more likely to get it right the first time, and that will save your employer time and money.
5. Relaxation Skills
The world of software development can be a stressful one. It’s an increasingly competitive sector, and you’re likely to be put under pressure to deliver successful projects on time and on budget. Patience soft skills can help alleviate this somewhat, but knowing when, and how, to relax can be just as important.
Mastering the art of relaxation doesn’t come easy to everyone, yet it can bring great benefits to both your work and home life. Try to allocate some time every day to completely switch off from the outside world. Let your mind become blank and waves of calm wash over you.
Guided meditation and yoga can be a useful aid to relaxation, but watch out for ‘solutions’ such as alcohol or smoking which can lead to further stress down the line.
6. Creative Skills
All good software developers can follow a brief, but great developers can bring something else to the table: their creative spark. The creativity soft skill is like a muscle, the more you use it, the more powerful it gets.
That’s why pursuing creative activities at home, whether that be painting, writing, or playing music, can boost your creativity when it comes to software development.
Being powerfully creative is a great asset to your career, but you have to be able to demonstrate that creativity to your employer, and that takes confidence. Not all of us are naturally confident, but whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, you can still boost your self-confidence levels.
One thing that links all successful people is they’re confident in their ability. They’ve learned to shut off internal voices of doubt, allowing them to achieve their true potential. One step to achieving this is to know your job inside out. Understand the policy vs procedure rules in your workplace and know when to make your input and get noticed.
In many ways, self-confidence is one of the most vital soft skills, and it’s one you can carry with you throughout your life. All seven of the skills we’ve examined here are essential, however, and can help you gain promotion or simply become a better software developer.
The good news is that all these soft skills can be learned and improved, and there are plenty of resources available online to help you do just that. Boosting your soft skills doesn’t have to be hard. Why not start on it today?