Stop Coding. Start Listening.

You are preparing to become a Software Developer. And you are coding, practicing, completing exercises, following tutorials online, learning JavaScript, algorithms, React, loops, Java, variables… and that is great, but you may be missing something along your path.

Soft skills

Anyone can get to a Junior Developer level in a matter of weeks or months and, with some time and experience, master their coding skills… but coding is not everything.

Empathy, creativity, open-mindedness, good communication, critical thinking, teamwork mentality… they complement the technical knowledge and will take you to the next level.

The good news is you may have those soft skills already! And trust me, we need them in our industry. We really do.

Some people have these skills naturally. Some others need to practice them a little (…or a lot). But we must work on them to grow as developers (and as people in general).

Here’s a little secret: you are not being evaluated just for your technical knowledge in a technical interview. By the time you make it to the technical interview, you should have passed a technical screening, and we have a general idea of your coding abilities.

We also want to make sure that you’d be a good fit for the team and organization, and look for other types of skills: communication, creativity, critical thinking… do they ring a bell?

Listening

Notice that I use listening in a wider sense, which includes listening, reading, observing, and even writing (which is really useful for solidifying knowledge and improving communication skills.)

Seriously. Do you…

  • …want better communication skills? Listen to people. It will help following the conversation better, will make you more secure and able to answer. Even if they are not talking to you: listen and pay attention to how senior coworkers present the topics and learn from how they do it.
  • …want to boost empathy? Listen to people. Understand how they feel, what they are going through, what they think. It will help you understand their needs better, and it will improve the team mentality.
  • …want to be more creative? Listen to (creative) people. Get ideas, inspiration, challenges… Every artist has been influenced by previous artists. To improve your creativity, search for and listen to other creative people.
  • …want to improve teamwork skills? Listen to your teammates! Not only to what they have to say but also to how they present things: read their tickets carefully, make sure that you have all requirements… more listening later translates into fewer bugs and missing features and faster review cycles.
  • …want to…?

Do you see the pattern?

Of course, there are many other ways to improve soft skills, but I find that a good one is following Vanilla Ice’s advice: “ Alright: stop, collaborate, and listen.” :P

Conclusion

While you prepare for your Software Developer career, don’t just focus on coding and also set some time to invest in your soft skills. It will go a long way.

Originally published at https://community.codenewbie.org on February 11, 2021.

Full-Stack Software Engineer, Mobile Developer, Web technologies enthusiast. CSS aficionado. Twitter: @alvaro_montoro