It’s no secret that programmers and developers are incredibly high in demand in today’s economy.
As we have noted before here at Pesto, Currently there are over half a million open software engineering jobs in the US alone, with the number predicted to be over 1.4 million by 2020.
Today is arguably the best time to be a software engineer.
And while startups and small businesses are turning to developers to help start, grow, and scale their business, knowing how to write good code will only get you so far.
If you are currently a software engineer looking for your next career challenge, investing in your soft skills is one of the most effective ways to stand out to potential employers.
We’ve put together a list of 7 soft skills that will help you become a better software engineers.
Become An Above Average Writer
Learning to write effectively is one of the most valuable skills you can invest in.
Whether it’s communicating product updates through email, or how you present your end of the month report, being an above average writer will help you stand out.
When writing to your coworkers and colleagues try to avoid using jargon and do your best to keep your messages short. Always be direct in your writing so that it’s clear what you’re trying to say.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a great writer, you can improve your writing drastically by using a writing tool such as Grammarly and always double checking your work.
Becoming a better writer does take practice, but after months of working to improve your craft, it will make a massive difference in how you are perceived at work.
Good Presentation Skills
Just as knowing how to write well will help progress in your career, being able to effectively present your ideas and your finished projects to your team is just as important.
Again, you don’t have to be a world class speaker or communicator, but spending just a few hours on practicing can help.
Practicing eye contact, speaking confidently, and even rehearsing your presentation multiple times beforehand will make a great impression.
You may have spent the last month working on a truly amazing feature for the company, but if you can’t communicate why it’s important, you may be overlooked.
The only way to get better at your presentation skills is by practicing. Show initiative by volunteering for any project that involves you needing to present.
Investing in a free or inexpensive communication course on Youtube or Udemy is a good place to start.
Have A Creative Mindset
As an engineer you already know that the technology world moves fast.
Being able to creatively approach problems and challenges you face is one of the many reasons you were hired in the first place.
Having a creative mindset will allow you to tackle issues that can’t be solved through conventional methods.
The best way to adopt a creative mindset is to question how you’ve done things in the past. Could a different approach work? What if you took a left instead of right?
While getting the job done well is the desired result, push yourself to think creatively as you go about your day.
Learn To Say No
One of the biggest challenges in today’s work environment is taking on too many projects and tasks.
To make the most of your day and time, it’s important to learn how to say no when appropriate.
Of course, this doesn’t mean to not do your job if your manager asks you to develop a new feature, but prioritizing your workload will help you be more effective in what you’re best at.
Although saying no is never fun, the more you’re upfront with your team, the more respect they will have for you personally and professionally.
Be A Team Player
We’ve all heard stories of that incredibly smart coworker who simply can’t play nice with others.
Don’t be that person!
Understanding how to work with your team and leverage each other’s strengths is crucial for getting things done and building a strong relationship with your team.
Do your best to actively listen to your team’s feedback and suggestions rather than become defensive.
If there is a disagreement among you and your team, do your best to approach the situation professionally without attacking any one person individually.
In increasingly collaborative work environments, being able to work well with others is more important than ever before.
Be sure to read the excellent book “How To Win Friends and Influence People” if you want to become a better team player.
Handle Feedback Like A Pro
No one likes being told where they can improve, but constructive feedback is the only way to get better at your craft.
Although you may sometimes want to take feedback personally, remember that your team just wants you to perform at your best.
When receiving feedback, again, avoid being defensive right off the bat.
Even if you don’t agree with the feedback entirely, there’s almost always something you can take away that will help you improve both personally and professionally.
As you become more comfortable handling feedback, you can invite your team to give you feedback to improve your performance at work.
Handling feedback like a pro is one skill hiring managers look for on a regular basis, so if you can demonstrate you can receive feedback without getting upset, it’s a huge advantage in your favor.
Be Open Minded
Lastly, if you want to move up the ranks in your career, being able to have an open mind about how you approach your work is a must.
Always be open to improving your current workflow and trying new ways to get things done.
While adjusting to change is not always easy, being able to navigate the fast-changing world of tech will put you in a good position to succeed.
If your team is considering running meetings a different way than you’re used to, go into the changes with an open mind.
If your team is wanting to try a new app to keep the company organized, put your best foot forward.
Being open-minded is crucial for building a team that scales successfully.
Wrapping It Up
As an engineer, the quality of your code is one of the many factors that affect whether not a company decides to hire you.
Investing in the soft skills outside of coding and development can help you go from an average performer to someone essential to the company.
Even improving in just one of the above soft skills can have a tremendous impact on the trajectory of your career.