Top 5 Soft Skills for Software Developers — according to a Solution Architect

by | Jun 7, 2021 | Career | 0 comments

The job scope of a software developer may seem so technical, that we overlook the other set of skills equally important to hiring managers nowadays — soft skills.

In order to be well-prepped for your next job interview, you would probably google something like “top soft skills required for Software Developers”. No doubt, you’ll find at least 50 soft skills that you could start working on today… And yes they might be great and valuable to have in life but — and this is a big BUT — they won’t get you anywhere in the domain of software development.

According to our Chief Solution Architect with more than 20 years of experience in the industry — of which he helped MNCs to hire technical talents for 5 years — you basically only need five essential soft skills to start off your career as a software developer!

Top Soft Skills for Software Developers according to Google

First, let’s see what Google tells us. We’ve gathered the top soft skills we could find that Google suggested software developers should have.

The top 5 soft skills that show up on our top search results are:

1. Empathy

2. Communication skills

3. Teamwork

4. Adaptability

5. Drawing skills

While these are very valuable soft skills, our Chief Solution Architect insists that the top 5 soft skills for software developers are none of the above.

Top Soft Skills for Software Developers according to our Chief Solution Architect

You want to land a job as a software developer? Here is a round-up of the top 5 soft skills that we definitely require you to have at our company!

  1. Be a problem-solver
  2. Be self-reflective
  3. Pay attention to details
  4. Be resilient
  5. Have Work Ethic

Why do we think these are important soft skills to have? After holding close to 100 candidate-interviews, combing through more than 300 resumes, and of course a solid 20 years of work experience in the industry, these 5 skills proved to be the ones that get you places!

But why do we need soft skills?

Over the last few years, the standard workspace environment has been in a constant motion of change. According to PMI’s Tomorrow’s Teams Today report, more than half of businesses are reorganising themselves to accommodate projects and programmes by setting up more virtual workplaces.

Moreover, according to Digital Ocean’s Remote Work Currents report, 86% of developers work remotely to some extent, during one or all stages of a project. Almost half of the respondents (43%) also consider the ability to work remotely, as a must when considering an offer with a company.

We will continuously face challenges in technology and in organisations, that are outside of our standard norm. Acquiring a good set of soft skills will help you adapt to these changes. Working on your soft skills means gaining better interpersonal skills, allowing you to become a better peer to your employees and foster your intrinsic values that will also benefit you in your day to day endeavours.

Master a few of these skills ahead of your job interview and rest assured you will set yourself up for success!

1. Be a problem-solver

You can be a problem solver in many ways. Even better, you can (and should) be an efficient problem-solver.

For example:

  • You know you won’t have enough time to prepare your breakfast in the morning so you prepare it the night before. Problem solved!
  • You choose your work attire the night before to avoid any delays to get to work. Problem solved!

You see, we solve problems every day in our lives! If you do it efficiently, you gain other benefits such as time. And this is also the difference that matters within this industry.

Let’s imagine you are on your way to your interview for a role in software development. Obviously you should not arrive late to your interview, an issue (problem) you have to consider beforehand. You need to make sure you have a solution (e.g. prepare your breakfast and clothes the day before). First problem solved. If the hiring manager asks you about your problem solving skills, this could be your first answer. Of course, during the interview, the hiring manager will ask you to solve more complex and specific problems pertaining to coding. Time to shine! Demonstrate your thought process in solving a problem clearly. Whether you’re a junior or a senior software developer, anyone can show that they can be good problem solvers as long as you articulate yourself clearly! Think of your morning routine!

2. Be self-reflective

Ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? In 1999, psychologists, David Dunning and Justin Kruger, coined this term when they discovered the cognitive bias whereby people are not able to recognise their own incompetence. Based on their research, the two psychologists concluded that we are not very good at evaluating ourselves accurately. The theory explains the cognitive bias humans have where people with low ability at a task tend to overestimate their ability. Below graph illustrates how our (over)confidence develops in relation to growing competence.

Source: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Graph-of-the-Dunning-Kruger-effect-on-the-confidence-of-medical-students-in-their_fig1_333561136

So to help us recognise the pockets of incompetence and in order to progress, it’s an important soft skill to be self-reflective, to ask colleagues for feedback and constantly seek knowledge. Once we can gauge our actual level of competence, we can avoid pot holes and become better software developers.

3. Pay attention to details but beware of the rabbit hole!

As a software developer, your job in coding will require a meticulous eye. The less careless mistakes you make, the better. That’s why in this industry you will need a ‘lazer-sharp’ attention to detail.

But even more important is being able to focus on the right things. Many times, developers will dedicate too much of their attention to details that aren’t as important. In coding this can result in a never-ending scenario, which will slow down the progress of the team. Industry experts have coined this ‘falling down the rabbit hole’.

Let’s have a look at the following example: Imagine you are driving a car. Your car is dusty on the exterior and it bothers you a bit but you are still able to drive. You’ve checked your engines, your tires work and you have enough fuel. The dust is not a problem you need to focus on right now.

So you keep driving, focusing your attention to achieve your goal; arriving at your destination even if your car is a little bit dusty! This soft skill is about focusing on the right details and not wasting time on unnecessary ones.

4. Be resilient

Resilience is about being able to recover quickly from tough situations. When you start a new job, resilience shows you have the willingness to adapt to new workplaces. In today’s changing work landscape, it will be increasingly important to be able to mend your ways to accommodate your work colleagues.

Hiring managers will ask candidates trick questions to understand if they possess or are willing to learn this soft skill.

For example: “What’s your biggest pet peeve at work?”

or

“Tell us about the last time you got really stressed at work.”

Candidates may also be asked to adapt to new settings outside of their norm.

If you struggle to make changes or get overly emotional when talking about a pet peeve at work, it might give away that you are not so tolerable and cannot easily adapt to new situations. Train yourself to be more resilient!

5. Have a Work Ethic

A strong work ethic means that you have a deep belief of the moral benefits that come with having a strong determination and desire to do your best at work. Inherently, you will please other members of your team as having strong work ethics will make you value other people’s time. This means coming to work on time, completing tasks in a timely manner, staying focused on the task at hand and staying organised.

This is a skill that is difficult to teach and for most individuals comes intrinsically. But if you can improve on your work ethics and demonstrate an example on your next interview (read how a typical hiring process in a SaaS company goes here), you are reassuring your hiring manager that you are able to work independently, that you understand the weight of your projects enough to complete your work thoroughly.

Above All: Never Stop Learning

Mastering the 5 soft skills for developers from this article will surely help you to get an edge over the competition when applying for your next dream job in software development. 😉 And regarding all the other 45 and more soft skills, you might find on Google: it’s never a bad thing to possess as many soft skills as possible and improve your work ethic 🙂 At the end of the day, we could all do better on how we respond to one another and the change that’s happening around us.

Written by Sophia Hertzke

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