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Essential inter-personal skills

Why soft skills are important for developers

Tom Buckland
soft skills
© Shutterstock / Bimbim

Soft skills are all to do with how we interact with other people. This is opposed to “hard skills” which are to do with acquired abilities that require specific knowledge. There are many reasons why soft skills are equally, if not more important than hard skills for software developers.

Web developers these days need to compete not only with other developers, but also with tools like free website builders. This means they need to have a range of skills in order to remain competitive.

When we talk about skills for developers, we commonly think about technical skills and knowledge. However, less technical skills can be just as critical, supporting better performance and delivering a much stronger end product.

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What are soft skills?

Soft skills are all to do with how we interact with other people. This is opposed to “hard skills” which are to do with acquired abilities that require specific knowledge. In software development, this generally means how you interact with programs and machines, such as Java or Quarkus skills. Having well-developed skills of this nature means that you can work well with others, collaborate, and have positive personal interactions.

These are skills that are not only vital for communicating and negotiating with other people. In essence, they are the skills that help us to show others who we are, and our worth to a team. It is often assume that while hard skills are learnt, soft skills are natural abilities that you either have or you don’t. However, although these skills come more naturally to some than to others, they too can be learnt and developed with some time and effort.

Why soft skills are important

There are many reasons why soft skills are equally, if not more important than hard skills for software developers.

Soft skills mean better teamwork

As a developer, it can be easy to focus on the screen in front of you, and get caught up the task you are doing or the problem you are solving. However, it pays to remember that software development is a team effort. You are not alone, but part of a team.

Therefore it is critical that developers work well with others and this is where soft skills come in. Even if you are great at your job, if you cannot communicate what you are doing to the rest of your team, this could cause major issues. Strong skills like great communication skills are vital to the whole team functioning well together, and the project performing optimally.

Soft skills are vital for networking

These types of skills are essential for networking, which is often-overlooked but highly important for software developers. Networking is essential for professionals in many industries, and software development is no exception. It can help you find new job opportunities, find a mentor, or make connections that can help you improve your performance as a developer.

Networking, however, can be extremely challenging. It requires a high degree of nuanced interpersonal skills. You also need to be confident in talking and approaching people you don’t know very well (or at all), and have great soft skills will give you that confidence.

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Soft skills help with retention

In a highly mobile sector like software development where talent is often highly sought-after, team retention is vital to companies. Once a company finds great talent, they must hold on to them at all costs, because the cost of finding, replacing, and training them can be devastatingly high. Not to mention the loss of productivity in transition periods and caused by a well-functioning team breaking up.

From the company’s perspective, hiring a developer with great soft skills means a greater chance for staff retention. This is because a developer who has strong inter-personal skills will be able to communicate better with their supervisors and their colleagues, meaning they’ll be happier and more connected to their work, and therefore less likely to leave. As a developer, having a wide range of skills makes you more hireable in more ways than one.
Although soft skills are sometimes seen as less important than the “hard” skills, they are equally, if not more important for developers. Soft skills make you a better team member, a better communicator, allow you to network, and make you more hireable.

Author

Tom Buckland

Tom Buckland is a digital marketing and Amazon seller consultant specialising in content marketing and technical SEO. He’s the founder of Cardiff-based digital marketing agency HQ SEO in the UK and loves helping businesses profit through smart digital marketing strategies.


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