Successful software developer
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7 top qualities that make a successful software developer

28 Aug 2017

If you want to be a great software developer, there are some key traits and qualities you must have.

While there are plenty of jobs out there for software developers, that doesn’t mean the competition isn’t fierce.

A budding software developer still has to be at the top of their game and stand out from the crowd in order to get their dream job.

According to Tigran Sloyan, CEO of CodeFights, there are seven important qualities that all successful software developers have. If you’re confident you have them too, you’re well on your way.

Be a team player

Engineers who are team players are much more likely to be successful in their careers than lone-wolf types. There’s a pop culture stereotype of the brilliant but emotionally stunted programmer – someone who can pull off heroic feats of code-slinging but can’t connect with the people around them.

This doesn’t work in real software development teams. As a software engineer, your job is to solve issues and create a great product, not just to write as many clever lines of code as possible. That means communicating with all kinds of people: other developers, quality assurance, PMs, sales, customers etc.

Remember to treat others with empathy and respect. You want to be the kind of developer who lifts up everyone else around you, not someone who only works well in isolation.

Stay humble

Successful developers don’t bring their egos to work. No matter how good you are at what you do, you’re not always going to be right. Other team members might have constructive criticism during code review, or your code might have bugs that you only find out about after shipping the product.

When this happens, you have to be OK with other people pointing out and correcting your errors. That’s why humility is such an important quality for developers to have.

The ability to take criticism and corrections from others, and then channel this into learning what you can do better, will make you a much better developer in the long run.

Practice makes perfect

Successful developers keep their skills sharp. Just like Stephen Curry continues to put up 1,000 shots in practice every week, successful developers put in time and effort to practise their skills and exercise their muscles.

Many professional developers frequent websites such as CodeFights and Coderbyte to try out new languages or keep up their grasp of programming using different algorithms or data structures.

Find opportunities to practise and push yourself a tiny bit harder than you do every day at work. Doing this regularly will keep your skills sharp and will keep you refreshed, interested and on top of your game.

Invest in your own work

Developers who feel a personal sense of investment and pride in the work that they do tend to be much more successful than the ones who don’t.

Outstanding developers are much like outstanding artists. What they are creating is not just work they do to collect a cheque. There is a sense of pride in your craftsmanship and authorship.

This fuels them to go the extra mile to make sure that their work is of high quality. On the other hand, if you’re half-assing it or aren’t fully invested in what you’re doing, your work and the project will suffer as a result.

Keep an eye on the bigger picture

Being a good developer means being able to balance completing day-to-day tasks with focusing on the project as a whole.

In other words, they are able to operate efficiently on a daily basis while focusing on the big picture. This ability to balance the long-term and short-term perspectives is what separates really good developers from the ones who are just OK.

Practise this skill by thinking about how the individual components you’re building will contribute to the product as a whole, how they’ll interact with each other, and how any changes to them will impact the scope and direction of the project.

Stay curious

Successful developers tend to be naturally curious people who love to learn. Try to stay on top of the latest trends in software engineering, especially in your area of specialty.

Read blogs, listen to podcasts and go to conferences once in a while. This means that you’ll probably know a little bit about a lot of things that aren’t directly connected to your day-to-day duties, which will make you a stronger and more well-rounded developer.

Pay strong attention to detail

Developers who pay attention to detail tend to write a higher-quality code.

Computers only do what you tell them to do. If a code does not compile or a product has a bug, it’s not the computer’s fault. Exercising the ability to think through corner cases and writing codes that will handle various use cases allow for a much easier development process.

Also, detail-oriented developers can catch mistakes in their own code as well as in others’ code.

By Tigran Sloyan

Tigran Sloyan is the CEO of CodeFights, a competitive coding and skill-based recruiting platform that helps coders practise their skills.

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