The well documented skills shortage within the software development world could easily trick one into thinking the competition wasn’t fierce. This however couldn’t be further from the truth.
Whilst the software industry is constantly growing with it so does the demand for great talent. Whether you’re looking at freelancing projects or multinational giants, you will notice that the common denominator is a constant demand for talented software developers. But what makes a great software developer? How can you stand out from the crowd and land your dream job?
There has been much debate in recent years revolving around the qualities and attributes of successful developers. After almost sixty interviews, a study from the University of Washington has uncovered fifty-three attributes of great software developers. Whilst no two companies will deem the same person as the right fit and no two clients will be positively drawn to the same characteristics, further debate has uncovered overlapping attributes.
You have the technical skills but are YOU the developer everyone wants?
Practice! Practice! Practice!
As with most domains, knowledge is power. Great developers keep their skills sharp and put in the time and effort required to practice their skills and exercise their muscles. In order to really expand your knowledge, you need to regularly find new challenges and push yourself further each time. Many professional developers access websites such as CodeFights and Coderbyte to explore new languages and keep their programming claws sharp, using different algorithms or data structures. Regular practice will keep you refreshed, interested and on top of your game.
The software world is continuously developing. There are new languages, tools, software and frameworks being released on a daily basis and luckily, successful developers tend to be naturally curious individuals with a great desire to constantly learn. Try to stay updated with the latest trends, especially in your area of expertise – read blogs, attend networking events and conferences and listen to podcasts once in a while. This will allow you to gain a little bit more knowledge on things that may not be directly connected to your day-to-day duties but will make you a better-rounded professional.
Often overlooked, creativity is a vital skill developers should possess. Creativity will allow you to think out of the box and therefore work in smarter ways, exploring areas that are uncharted territory for those who like to follow strict and rigid rules. There are a great number of skilled developers but the majority are working on a set format, usually dictated by institutions. What is bound to impress a potential employer or a client is the originality of your skill set and the creative methods you are able to employ.
Open source code
A brilliant way to improve your skills and practice your developing and programming methods is working on open source projects from places like Source Forge and GitHub. These platforms allow you to spend time immersed in the code and will give you the opportunity to read and understand other people’s code in open source projects. You can take this one step further and look for patterns in the code and develop your understanding and code sense. By developing your code sense, you will be able to spot gaps and inefficiencies and develop fixes which may have previously been overlooked.
The rapid growth of the technology world has made it easier than ever to learn, providing easy access to most information. If you want to stand out, getting involved in social media, online communities, blogs and mailing lists is a good place to start. Blogs are often written by developers and programmers who have been exposed to a decent amount of experience within a particular field and may have a personal view or method that may be different to your own, providing you with a refreshing perspective and the opportunity to learn something new. Being active and involved on forums and other communities will give you a better opportunity to understand problems, approach issues and formulate solutions in an engaging environment.
Shortage in talent and skills makes it more difficult to attract great developers. These are clearly in high demand and possessing the technical knowledge is unfortunately not enough if you want to work on the best projects and engage with interesting companies. Whilst the above is not a strict checklist of attributes you should have to be a developer, they are attributes that will help you better yourself and stand out from the crowd, increasing your visibility and enhancing your chances of being noticed by potential employers who will want to get you on board as soon as possible.
Author: Anca Popescu