If you want to progress your career into management you will need more than technical prowess. Find out the 6 soft skills that will propel your career, whether you are a contractor or permanent employee.
As I’m sure you already know, software engineers are like hen’s teeth for recruiters. This article from Silicon Republic proves why. It is the most in-demand role in tech.
Consequently, it’s tempting to feel like Messi or Soairse Ronan and think YOU are the most in-demand, internally and externally. You might have the technical skills to do the job, but more is required to progress in the modern workplace or to gain repeated contracted work across a number of companies.
There once was a time when being a brilliant coder meant you could have a great job where you write all day and hang out with fellow developers. However, just as other job roles have expanded to take on new responsibilities, such as HROs learning marketing and marketers learning data analysis; a software engineer must now engage with other parts of the company, as well as clients, to explain, influence, direct and lead, demonstrating an understanding of the overall business goals.
You need soft skills.
And here are some of the most crucial if you want to really develop your career in a startup, a medium sized company or a multinational corporation.
Speak their language
It’s all well and good having meetings with the team lead and co-developers whom you amaze with how you set up that API. However, do you see a glazed or confused look when you speak to other people in the business? It’s essential that those without technical knowledge, have a solid understanding of what you’re explaining. It sounds obvious but taking the time to speak in layman’s terms means you can make that other party comprehend just how difficult a particular task was, or why something will take four weeks when they think it should be done in two. If you have an understanding, you have buy-in, as opposed to challenge and conflict.
Speak your mind
Have you ever been in a meeting and in your head, you foresaw issues in how a project was developing, but you said nothing because you’re not an outspoken type of person? By offering your doubts, highlighting dangers and suggesting solutions before problems arise, it will benefit, you, your team and the company.
Being a talented coder is fantastic. But do you enjoy cost estimations, sprint planning, architecting schemas and designing elements such as user flows? This will help you plan to overcome pitfalls before they happen. Having a strategic mind will set you well on your way to career progression.
So, you’ve come up with a brilliant solution to that recurring bug, but it’s going to mean redeploying you from that other crucial project. You need to be able to make a sound business argument for why it’s better you focus your attention on fixing the bug your way, as it will reap more benefits.
Or, if you’ve progressed up the ladder and you need more budget, or want to hire new members to your team, you will need to be able to make to convince the ‘powers that be’, that by investing in your proposal, you can show the return on investment.
Understand the business
It is easy to get caught up in the challenges of your code, your project, your deadlines. Do you stop to think about how that project, software, app/website or product is addressing the business needs? Do you consider the repercussions for the company from a delay, a crash or a virus? By comprehending the effect of your work or your requirements on the overall business, you will be seen as a future leader.
If you want to progress your career into management, you will need to take on leadership roles. That might be project leader or team lead, then maybe developer manager, director of development, Head of IT and ultimately CTO. To do this, you must be able to motivate others to deliver under pressure, to inspire them to solutions, to empathise with their challenges and support and guide them with their own personal goals.
Of course, it’s possible to take the career route of growing purely within the development role, with a deeper understanding of the languages for which you write code. However, if you have aspirations of a managerial position or you want a solid and successful contracting career, where you can pick and choose your work; soft skills are absolutely crucial.
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