Soft Skills for Software Developers

In a 2016 Harvard Business Review article, The Soft Skills of Great Digital Organizations, Alexandra Samuel has this to say: “Smart organizations have recognized that introducing new technology into the workplace isn’t about hardware or software: it’s about wetware, also known as human beings. If you want to be the kind of nimble business that can make the most of successive waves of tech innovation, you need human beings who can adapt to change.”

This transition in organizational thinking is long overdue. We know what kind of positive outcome organizations and leaders can expect if they employ a bunch of talented people with great soft skills. This is why companies value soft skills in building successful, efficient teams for increased innovation, improved retention, and lower costs.

But why does this matter to you? What does having soft skills do for you and your future career as a software developer?

The short answer is, in the long run, soft skills will help you advance your career more than coding skills. I have seen this repeatedly in my experience interviewing, hiring, mentoring, and working with developers over the last five years.

I am not saying that you can afford to deliver lousy code and expect to rise in your organization. Instead, think of your technical skills as table stakes. As long as you are competing for a job as a software developer, you are expected to demonstrate basic levels of technical proficiency.

Soft skills are different: they are what can set you apart. Soft skills determine how and what others think of you, especially those with the power to promote. They are the difference between being placed on a great project versus being left out of it. They can also be the difference between keeping and losing a role.

Why? If you collaborate well with others and show empathy, respect and kindness, you are creating a more cohesive team dynamic, effectively amplifying the work your team is doing. At the same time, soft skills such as adaptability are often what remove blockers so that the team can move forward with high velocity. There is not a single manager out there who would say “no” to bringing someone like this on board.

Students at Code Fellows practice essential technical and soft skills every day. On February 23 Partner Power Hour, we will explore what times of soft skills are highly sought after in the tech industry, plus some pro tips to help you prepare for your interviews and for a successful career in tech.


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