6 ways to up your soft skills game as a developer

Soft skills are just as important for our success as technical skills — here's how you can work on improving them as a developer.

Unlocking tech talent stories

April 13, 2023

We tend to focus on honing our technical skills and sometimes neglect the whole “soft skills” thing. But let me tell you, soft skills are just as important for our success as technical skills. Let’s dive into some tips for levelling up your soft skills as a developer.

1. Communication

Effective communication is crucial for any developer. You need to be able to clearly and concisely explain your thoughts and ideas to your team and stakeholders without sounding like you’re speaking a different language. It’s also important to be an active listener and give constructive feedback – because nobody likes a know-it-all.

To improve your communication skills, consider taking a course on effective communication, presenting your work to your team, or participating in group discussions. And if all else fails, just break out the good ol’ whiteboard and markers – everybody loves a good whiteboard session.

2. Collaboration

As a developer, you’ll often be working on projects as part of a team. It’s important to be able to collaborate effectively with others to ensure that the project is completed efficiently and to a high standard. And no, “efficiency” does not mean skipping meetings or ignoring your team members’ ideas – sorry to burst your bubble.

To improve your collaboration skills, try to be open and receptive to the ideas and suggestions of your team members. It’s also helpful to be proactive and take the initiative to identify areas where you can help or contribute. And if you’re feeling extra generous, you can even share your lunch with your team (just don’t let them know it’s because you forgot to bring your own).

3. Time management

Developers often have to juggle multiple tasks and projects, so it’s important to be able to manage your time effectively. This includes being able to prioritize tasks and allocate your time accordingly. Otherwise, you’ll end up staring at your to-do list in panic at 5 PM, wondering where the day went.

Try using a time management tool such as Trello or Asana to organize your tasks and set deadlines to improve your time management skills. It can also be helpful to set aside dedicated blocks of time for specific tasks, and to minimize distractions such as social media or email during these times. And if you’re really struggling, you can always bribe yourself with a treat – “if I finish this task, I get to have a slice of pie” – it works, trust me.

4. Adaptability

In the fast-paced world of software development, it’s important to be able to adapt to changing circumstances and technologies. This includes being able to learn new technologies and languages quickly and efficiently. Because let’s be real, the only constant in this field is change.

To improve your adaptability, make a habit of continuously learning and staying up-to-date with new developments in your field. You can do this by attending workshops, conferences, or online courses and by reading industry blogs and articles (like this one 🤩). And if you’re feeling particularly nerdy, you can even participate in hackathons or code challenges to keep your skills sharp.

5. Problem-solving

As a developer, you’ll inevitably face challenges and obstacles. It’s important to be able to approach these problems with a logical and analytical mindset and to be able to find creative solutions. Because let’s be honest, we love nothing more than a good coding challenge.

To improve your problem-solving skills, try to practice regularly by tackling problems and puzzles on platforms such as Project Euler or CodeCombat. You can also try to apply a design thinking approach to problem-solving by breaking the problem down into smaller parts and considering multiple potential solutions. And if you’re really stuck, don’t be afraid to ask for help – sometimes, a fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference.

6. Leadership

Even if you’re not in a leadership role, it’s important for developers to be able to take the lead and guide others when necessary. This includes being able to delegate tasks effectively and providing guidance and mentorship to other team members. 

To improve your leadership skills, try taking on additional team responsibilities, such as leading a project or mentoring a junior developer. You can also seek out leadership development courses or programs to learn more about effective leadership techniques. And if all else fails, remember the wise words of Ron Swanson – “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” 😎

Soft skills are an essential part of a developer’s toolkit. By focusing on improving your communication, collaboration, time management, adaptability, problem-solving, and leadership skills, you can become a more well-rounded and effective developer.

Let’s ditch the stereotype of the introverted, socially awkward programmer and start working on our soft skills.

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