The 8 most important soft skills for programmers
October 31, 2022
The present we live in gives us enough clues to point to an increasingly technological future, where artificial intelligence will be decisive for the accomplishment of tasks and, in general, for the digitalization of businesses. With this, emerges the need to develop, as professionals, skills that allow us to add value to all our work and, therefore, present a superior quality compared to what can be achieved through machines.
Thus, contrary to the stereotype that may have existed that a programmer doesn’t need social skills, we believe that no matter how good the technique is, the quality of a project is determined by factors resulting from a good working environment, where constant communication, collaboration, and creativity are imperative.
In the current context, in which professionals increasingly demonstrate better hard skills, we believe that social characteristics may, in a not-so-distant future, occupy a predominant role in the recruitment processes in comparison to technical skills.
What are the differences between hard and soft skills?
Although it may all seem the same, there is a big difference between some skills and others, and in the end, they can really be decisive for your success. If hard skills are those that will define the quality of the execution your work from a technical point of view, whether you are a programmer, analyst, designer, or other, on the other hand, there are social skills that are fundamental in any job and in life in general.
Why it is also important to develop your soft skills
Social skills, or soft skills, or also non-technical skills, relate to interpersonal skills - something subjective, that we understand to be as important as the development of technical skills. Not only professionals in IT, but transversely across all areas, people tend to focus all their time and effort on acquiring new technical skills. However, we believe that it’s in the balance between the two types of skills that a professional will be able to reach his/ her full potential. It’s important to know that in a job interview the most important thing will not be only and exclusively what you do technically, but also how you bring your soft skills to the solution of the problem.
On the other hand, throughout your career, social skills will allow you to move towards new horizons, if you know how to take advantage of the opportunities they will provide. You may never have thought about this but try take some time to look at some of the technologies that have come along in the past. Some have indeed endured, but others didn’t see any popularity before being replaced by newer and more effective ones. In contrast, presenting in public, working in teams, developing your critical and creative skills is timeless, and once developed, will be valuable for the rest of your life and not just for a certain period.
Can soft skills be learned like hard skills?
Absolutely. Just as you learn a new technology, a new framework, or a process, you can also learn social skills just as you can learn technical ones. Practice can lead you to mastery of what you want if you adjust yourself along the way. If you want to be a better developer the best thing to do is to schedule regularly and systematically, the reality is no different if you want to be a better communicator or improve your way of working in groups. So just like any technical skill you want to improve, soft skills can also be learned and trained at any time in your professional career.
What are the most important soft skills for developers
This will be one of the skills that could really be a game changer for you. Remember that if you work in IT, you will most likely master a technical language that other people will not have the same access to or understanding of it. The goal is to explain difficult topics, to your team or not, with more or less digital skills, in a way that is digestible to the average users. Remember to add to your speech a good dose of confidence and clarity, so you will get more buy-in if your non-verbal language is convincing and congruent with what you are communicating. And since communication is always a two-way street, it's important to know how to listen. So, when someone speaks, stay focused and listen actively. In line with your speech should be your writing skills, as this is also a way of expressing yourself.
Often, something as simple as having the ability to put ourselves in the other person's shoes, even if only for a few moments, is frankly neglected. The more technological we are, the more closed off like machines we tend to be. Often, some development problems could be mitigated with a genuine touch of empathy and awareness, where there is a deep understanding, either of the end user or the project intermediary.
Even if you don't hold a management position or if you are not directly managing people or projects, you have the responsibility of managing your time and tasks, which will also require a great commitment and engagement on your part. This is undoubtedly a non-technical skill that you must master and that can surely stand out in the eyes of recruiters, because in practice, even if you don't manage people, it will be your ability to manage deadlines, tasks and expectations that will make you a professional capable of making solid and viable estimates on the various phases of the project.
In a company, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone is working towards the same common goal. So as a fundamental part of a team, a structure, an organization remember that the more you give, the more you get in return. Although you may work most of the time alone, it’s important to know that programming is a team process, since your work will always pass-through other people, from different areas or not, such as other developers, designers, testers, project managers, etc. So, the more useful you are to these people, the more they will be useful to you for a final delivery more valuable.
Being a developer is not easy, we know that. From the start of a new project, through its development, testing and implementation, there can be many situations where, whether for a technical reason or not, you are led to moments of frustration.
Resilience will be a key competence for your success. In the technology area there will be difficult days that may even, in the worst-case scenario, put your future in this area in doubt, with some symptoms of the impostor syndrome. In this market you will be exposed to some volatility, not only technological but also of teams or clients, which may be reflected in your path with some frequency. Being resilient means accepting these changes with patience, without them diverting you from your path.
Remember that resilience will be an asset in times of greater stress and that important decisions for your professional and personal life should be taken in a neutral state, free of negative tensions.
Problem Solver Mentality
This will undoubtedly be one of the soft skill you should develop throughout your technological career. Having a problem problem solver mentality leads you to solving complex problems through critical thinking. More important than the technology you use to create a solution, the way you deconstruct a problem and put things into perspective for a deep critical analysis is vital to problem solving. Remember that recruiters are looking at this ability to solve more complex scenarios.
An algorithm has in its essence a set of rules and procedures that the developers have built based on their ability to solve a certain problem. However, their resolution arises from their ability to analyze the issue within and outside the technological spectrum.
Sometimes we just need to step back and visualize something from a different perspective. This is what separates the most creative people from those who don't have such a developed ability and employ it in problem solving. We naturally associate creativity with arts, but the truth is that it has a place in all fields of our personal and professional lives. An IT profile is someone who has critical and creative thinking, able to see more than one solution to a given challenge and given the circumstances, choose the most viable path. Therefore, the best way to develop this characteristic is practice. And about practice, we focus on areas that go beyond programming and are present in our routine. The important and interesting thing will be for you to explore different ways of approaching problems.
Not only in technology, but in all professions, you need self-confidence and awareness to reach your full technical and social potential. Too much humility or, on the other hand, too much conviction can lead you to a state of paralysis in the face of the first challenges you may encounter. The solution? A good, recommended dose of confidence. And here you can play a key role, no matter where you are. We believe that confidence in one's abilities often only needs to be stimulated, and you will have more of it the more contact you have with challenging environments.
Too often, we see people with enough skills, but afraid to try and take risks. So, if you work with someone more junior than you, your support can be decisive and impactful enough for their personal growth, breaking down often unnecessary psychological barriers.
The formula is to show enough confidence to know what you really know, but with an intellectual humility that allows you to never stop learning, which in the end will give clear signals about your emotional capacity, characteristics that are also highly appreciated by recruiters.