A lot more goes into becoming a good software engineer than being able to cowboy code your way into breaking prod. Working for your company requires you to interact with your peers and other stakeholders, including QA engineers, designers, executives, and project managers, among others. You need some essential soft skills to help you create meaningful and productive interactions, and move your career to the next level.
Here are the top ten soft skills you need as a software engineer:
1. Effective communication
You may be good at writing code and creating amazing software, but if you can’t communicate well with your teammates, clients, and other stakeholders, your software engineering skills may not count for anything. You won’t be working alone, and definitely not on any island, so you need to develop efficient ways of passing messages to others within and without your sphere.
Effective communication skills help foster harmony and understanding in the workplace. It’ll let you create fruitful relationships with peers and clients, a recipe needed to boost the productivity of your company.
2. Time management
Regardless of your profession, you cannot excel without reliable and time-tested time management skills. You can create a great app, no doubt, but it won’t amount to much if you can’t plan your time well. The app may be too late, failing to meet client timelines, and this means a loss of credibility and business.
Here are some tips to help you out:
You could start by planning out your day in advance.
Know what you’re supposed to do at any given time, and understand timeframes.
Check if there are any deadlines to meet.
If you don’t think you’ll meet a deadline, vocalize it to your manager ahead of time.
As you embark on software development activities, be sure to keep time.
3. Eagerness to learn
The worst thing that can ever happen to you is failing to learn. Getting your college degree doesn’t mean you are given free rein to stop learning new things. Learning is a continuous process which should only end when your time on the face of the earth runs out.
Be eager to share and learn new ideas from your friends and anyone else. There’s always something you don’t know that’s common knowledge to your colleagues, and the reverse is also true. If you can learn new things regularly, your career will definitely improve.
4. Leadership skills
Your skills as a software engineer may come into question if you don’t exercise strong leadership skills. Often, you may be called upon to show others the way, regardless of your age and experience. There are times people expect you to take charge of a situation immediately, especially in the event of an emergency.
Learn and develop leadership skills to help you handle any situation arising in the workplace. Who knows — you could just save your company lots of embarrassment. For instance, say the sales team is experiencing problems with certain customers who have problems working with software a fellow developer created. You can take charge there and help.
You guessed it right: very few companies or businesses can thrive without teamwork and collaboration. Are you able to work with others outside your department? Every single person in your company is important, right from the security personnel manning the CCTVs, the hygiene guys, to guess what? Believe it or not, even the CEO him/her/their self is important.
Working well with others also helps streamline the production process, since it pulls everyone into the core values of the organization. You’re also able to share ideas and chart the way forward together. Your team will shine when its members can perform well together!
6. Problem-solving skills
Life will always throw its fair share of problems and challenges your way, regardless of how much you try to achieve perfectionism. It may have nothing to do with debugging software or handling software failures. A myriad of non-software related problems may occur at any given time.
A customer that’s unhappy because they didn’t receive any discount on their purchases, missed deadlines, missed communications, misunderstandings, and mistrusts, in addition to many other issues, may need your attention. Develop your problem-solving skills to handle such eventualities in the best way possible.
Everyone needs to be accountable for one thing or another, and it doesn’t matter if you’re the best software developer in the entire northern hemisphere. You should be accountable for your actions, words, and anything else related to your personal and professional life. It’s inevitable that you will make a mistake more than once in your career, so it’s best to learn early on how to be honest and up-front with mistakes you make.
Accountability plays several important roles:
Ensures smooth flow of work
Helps resolve any issues at the workplace quickly and easily
Helps you to develop and earn trust
8. Emotional intelligence
A little emotional intelligence will go a long way to bolster your position as an all-rounded software developer. You won’t be dealing with machines only, but will work with people to ensure the machines can make sense of whatever is thrown their way.
Here are some tips to help you muster emotional intelligence:
Be kind and understanding of others.
Don’t be afraid to ask stupid or difficult questions.
Be generous to others
9. People and interpersonal skills
You’ll definitely need great interpersonal skills as you work with stakeholders and your colleagues. Remember, you’re still a human regardless of the software you create. Your job may sometimes make you feel like you have God mode — the ability to control everything — but not where other humans are involved.
You have to learn how to relate well with others to turn your career into a success story. It may require you to put your ego away, exude kindness, and even throw yourself into the fire.
As much as you want to have your way, or do things your way, keep in mind that your line of thinking isn’t necessarily how everyone else thinks. For this reason, be patient with others, and allow them to show you their side of things. It might just turn out to be better than yours.
Every software engineer needs these soft skills to excel at work. Your hard skills are just as important, but need to complement the soft skills to make you an all-rounded software developer. Keep learning new things, embrace teamwork, and treat others as humanely as possible, bolsterand you may open new doors and accelerate your career to the next level.
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