When people think about a software developer they see (usually) a man, sitting behind a computer, solving technical problems and writing mysterious code that makes a computer work. The word “nerd” that is often used for software engineers envisions a picture of a man, working on his own with his mind completely focussed on the computer. Maybe that is how it used to be in the early days of computer science. Nowadays you need to possess a bunch of soft skills to successfully work as a coder. Usually, people underestimate the intensive communication that is involved in making functional software. Regardless of the application, the making of Software these days is teamwork. 

For a software developer, therefore “4С” is important:

  • Critical thinking;
  • Creativity;
  • Cooperation;
  • Communication.

The talent and skills demand are rapidly evolving due to the rise of AI, automation, and robots. However, it is not solely driving demand for specialized, hard skills such as coding, cloud computing, and AI. Soft skills are in high demand in the industry.

According to the LinkedIn Future of Skills report, 89 % of executives say finding people with soft skills is difficult. This is in line with the results of a World Economic Forum study. Soft skills such as critical thinking, active learning, and creativity can maintain or increase their importance as the demand for technology competencies grows.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to take a balanced approach to the processing and consumption of data. It is, without a doubt, one of the most important skills in our time. You would like to weigh all pros and cons and estimate facts before reaching a particular conclusion. The skill helps to verify information, search for relationships between facts, think rationally, make the proper decisions and formulate strong arguments.

In terms of professional development, critical thinking helps you write clean, maintainable code.
Sometimes as a software developer, you will face a couple of possible solutions, and critical thinking will allow you to quickly assess each scenario mentally before choosing the foremost efficient one.

How to develop a skill?

The willingness to ask questions is an integral aspect of critical thinking. Also, to develop critical thinking, strive to broaden your horizons and learn more about different subjects and phenomena, learn to ask questions, analyze the text, and come up with different scenarios. Try to consider different points of view on the same topic as often as possible, track your attitude to what you read and analyze the argumentation used by your opponent. Train your logic, attention and imagination with games, puzzles and special exercises.

Creativity

Creativity is the ability to seek out and make non-standard solutions. The most subjective but necessary soft skill. It is an essential skill for programmers because they need to have developed imagination to turn ideas and thoughts into reality.

Creativity skill manifests itself in the approach to solving the problem. And this is exactly what engineers are doing from day to day – solving problems. Of course, coders build on what exists, but along the way, they insert original thinking into everything they do. Creativity helps developers apply non-standard solutions. In the work, any developer may encounter changes that require adaptation. To come up with product improvement ideas, a developer must think outside the box. But remember, the better a programmer understands the aim behind the project, the better they can be creative in ways to make the project a thriving success.

How to develop a skill?

To upgrade creativity skill, you should think about how we think. As soon as you begin brooding about solving a problem, stop and think about how you make a decision, whether you’re thinking stereotypically, or “as was done before”. Find new approaches to old problems. Ask yourself: “How can you do it differently here?” Take on tasks that are unfamiliar to you. Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges, it also develops your creativity.

Cooperation

Cooperation makes it easier to cope with the difficulties. If you do not communicate with other people, sooner or later you will stay face to face with the complications and perhaps with tasks impossible to perform. Developers need communication to exchange experience and knowledge. It works in the opposite direction as well: if there is someone in your team who possesses some unique skills, he can share them with you. It’s an endless cycle where everyone gets benefits: the team, the project and, of course, you.

Willingness to effectively show oneself in group work will be appreciated higher than just the ability to complete one’s task on time. The more difficult the goal, the more team effort will be required to achieve it. And here comes the time for singing in chorus, not solo. Do not neglect the help of more experienced colleagues, share your knowledge yourself, be open to dialogue, and you will certainly be noticed even among the rest.

How to develop a skill?

Share your vision and intentions to get everyone on the same page. Demonstrate respect for the opinions, expertise, and experience of others. Develop the ability to accept and apply feedback from others. Address negativity with empathy. Preserve dignity in a group setting; follow-up in private. Never allow your emotions to rule you. Encourage teamwork and participate in team-building activities.

Communication

Communication skills are the ability to clearly and politely express thoughts in oral or written dialogue, the ability to listen and hear interlocutors. These include: negotiating, presenting ideas, public speaking, holding audience attention, reading non-verbal and verbal cues, persuasion, reporting skills, and business correspondence.

You’ll need communication skills during self-presentation, business negotiations, public speaking, teamwork, and writing letters. You need to be able to hear, convince with arguments, be customer-oriented, and also tune in to the result.

How to develop a skill?

Be open and come meet the fellowship, meet new people more often. Help others and don’t be afraid to ask for help — it facilitates communication. Good and banal advice — communicate. This is the only way to develop this skill; neither courses nor books will help you.

Conclusion

Engineers should develop soft skills as well as programming skills. This may definitely not be excessive within the market, and in most cases, it’ll work in your favor. Therefore, choose the skill you would like to enhance. Don’t try to combat everything at once. Act gradually, one by one. Then it’ll be effective.

For implementation, make a plan with specific actions. For instance, I would like to develop my communication skills. This suggests that each day I have to communicate with one stranger.

Don’t be afraid, practice and everything will work out for sure. And remember, no matter how technical the role, it is the soft skills that will sort the good from the great.