6 secondary skills for software developers
Think coding is enough? Programmer and blogger Radek Pazdera thinks otherwise, who says that bringing a product to market requires many other skill sets. Make your work even more valuable with these additional skills under your belt.
Developers must be able to code, which is obviously a given. However, having a broader portfolio of soft skills and technical skills definitely doesn’t hurt. Sometimes a developer can only really shine when they’re engaged with their core competency, but often the produced code is consumed by a number of other departments (or needs to be).
To that end, programmer and blogger Radek Pazdera has put together a list of some very important secondary skills for developers who want to make their work even more valuable.
Design is key
Whether you’re a freelancer or an employee in a start-up, those able to develop mobile and web applications with a fancy UI / UX are pretty hot in the IT market today. Many open-source projects, Pazdera points out, are constantly on the lookout for designers. It’s not necessarily about being a true professional. With a little trial and error, a few books and some YouTube tutorials, you can quickly work out a little design expertise that’s in demand right now.
Combine hardware and software
In general, trends leading towards open source software are not the magic bullet for exclusivity and the willingness to pay. It doesn’t hurt to get involved in physical products, because hardware and electronics will remain important resources in IT for a while yet.
Via wearables and devices for the Internet of Things, Pazdera gives examples of all newly developed fields where the best hardware has yet to be found. First access can be in the form of prototypes and proof-of-concept devices that you can tinker with by using a micro controller, some resistors and C compilers.
Data is everywhere
Big Data has become a crucial business factor, making it all the more important for developers to learn how to deal with large amounts of data. As a developer, the learning curve you’ll experience when dealing with databases and logging systems is not particularly large. The Internet offers a variety of appropriate tools for data analysis, including documentation and tutorials.
While Pazdera concedes that the marketing profession probably wouldn’t rank very highly amongst developers, it remains an important means if you’re looking to make money off your own product. And never was it easier than it is today: mobile payment systems and online stores facilitate buyers and sellers with amazing ease.
One must also ensure that people actually want what you have to offer, too. Dealing with marketing can be useful outside of the profit-only thought process. As a developer, you can contribute a lot to an identified target group and subsequent product analysis. Pazdera says that cloud providers, for example, need to tailor their products particularly to suit developers, so being one is a plus.
Those who work in decent-sized teams know that dealing with people in the programming field can be just as important as the code itself. Companies suffer when they lose, or can’t retain, good programmers, so a move into management by senior developers is quite welcome. Who can understand the needs of programmers better than an actual programmer?
Learning the necessary skills for management can be tough on your own. Pazdera recommends as a first step to accept responsibility; put cooperation and helpfulness at the top of your agenda in order to strengthen your team and colleagues in their professionalism, which in turn provides a pleasant working atmosphere and reflects better on your managerial performance.
Programming as an additional qualification for developers? Pazdera says yes! For those whose passion lies solely in the code, they should probably stick to it and try to be the best in their own niche. The important thing above all is perseverance and software, with choices of where you can specialise. For companies who can pay for it, the all-rounder might not be what they want, with those skills often poorly assessed. Bigger companies will usually want software experts.
Those who rest, rust
For Pazdera its crucial that developers don’t just do what they know, but realise that they can optimise their core capabilities by combining them with related skills. And there are of course still a whole lot more that Pazdera didn’t mention.
With the numerous possibilities for further development and progress, being a ‘customised’ software developer, as Pazdera summarises, is a win-win scenario.