Man working as a software engineer sitting at a desk in front of several computer monitors displaying code.
Image: © deagreez/

7 top tips to be a better software engineer

7 Mar 2023

Being a great software engineer is not something you can do overnight, but there are practical ways to improve your work.

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If you want to be better at any job, you need the right mindset. This can vary depending on your career path, but it usually involves qualities like determination, an eagerness to learn and a certain amount of work on soft skills.

It’s no different for software engineers. Even though this is a technical job, it’s not only technical skills you will need to hone in order to become a respected senior software engineer.

In this piece, we will look at some of the skills – both technical and non-technical – that will help you become a better software engineer.

Learn Git, get into GitHub

A familiarity with the widely used open source version control system Git will stand to you no matter what programming language you use. Git can manage several different versions of source code. To really stand out, learn its advanced features and integrations.

While Git is a source code managing tool, GitHub is more of a location for storing copies of a Git repository. Just because you use Git doesn’t mean you need to use GitHub, but getting into GitHub is a good way to increase your profile as a coder.

If you have a good GitHub profile, employers will be able to get a feel for what projects you like to work on and your style.

GitHub’s open source community is well worth joining if you’re a software engineer.


No, not Bleak House by Charles Dickens; we mean reading code written by other people in this case.

Reading code written by other people can be a useful exercise, and there’s a good reason many software engineering teams do code reviews regularly.

Just like you’d read to become better at a language or writing in general, the same principle applies to being a better coder.

Understand the big picture

It’s important to know why you are coding and what or who you want to benefit when you’re working on projects.

All sorts of organisations need to employ software engineers these days, and you should be able to appreciate that not everyone you work with has the same technical knowledge as you.

You should be able to identify how your skills can be an asset in any organisation you work for.


This tip feeds into the one on understanding the big picture because communication is an integral part of how you’re going to be able to prove that you know why you’re doing what you’re doing.

It’s also important to be able to communicate when things go wrong, as they often do with code.

Challenge yourself

Tech is a fast-moving industry and if you don’t keep on top of the changes, you will be left behind.

If you’re a software engineer, chances are you are already doing bits on the side to keep your learning on track. You don’t have to constantly do new courses, but a few courses here and there will certainly stand to you and keep your skills fresh.

Doing a personal project or a side project is also a nice way of challenging yourself. Don’t pigeonhole yourself and be open to all types of projects.

Make your work look presentable

It’s good to think of your code in terms of UX, as that’s how it will be viewed or interacted with by an employer or a colleague.

There are lots of design tools out there such as Adobe XD and Figma that you can use to help make your work look better.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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