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How to Boost Your Skills to Become a Better Developer




Developers' careers depend to a large extent on the ability to work in a team, build relationships with colleagues, and understand customers quickly and correctly. Developers need not only to develop a product but also to be able to present it and defend solutions. To be successful and climb up the career ladder, Technology professionals need to keep their skills up to date with online learning platforms.

Tips for Boosting Your Soft Skills

1. Empathy

The ability to understand others is often underestimated. But empathy and emotional intelligence are crucial to teamwork. Any developer should be able to put himself or herself in the shoes of a colleague - it's easier to exchange ideas and not to depress each other when something goes wrong. A high level of empathy also helps to better understand users. For example, you might think that your code works fine and that's enough, but in the end, you should always think about the comfort of each person who will be using your product.

How to learn/what to remember

  1. First and foremost, you need to listen carefully to other people.
  2. Remain friendly and open-minded. Let colleagues know that they can always turn to you for help or advice. Trusting relationships are the basis for a healthy atmosphere, and only such teams have any chance of growing.
  3. A great podcast on the subject is Soft Skills Engineering. You can also listen to some podcasts of Developer Tea.
  4. Read books: "Practical Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work" by Indi Young or "Mirroring People: The New Science of How We Connect with Others" by Marco Iacoboni.

2. Stress resistance

Stress tolerance is a skill that can save a lot of nerves. There is a lot of stress in a developer's job: code doesn't work for no apparent reason, your colleagues don't understand what you want from them, and your customers demand the impossible. It's important to remain calm in any situation. A good developer knows how to give feedback and not get too personal - even if you have to repeat the same comments several times a day.

How to learn/what to remember

  1. If you are a team leader, your main task is to create an atmosphere in the team where everyone involved can honestly voice their opinions. Weekly debriefing sessions work very well, where everyone gives feedback on the work done: what went well, what difficulties were encountered, where help is needed.
  2. A special reserve of patience is required when explaining technical details to colleagues or clients who know nothing about programming. Allocate enough time for these meetings. It is better to spend a few hours at once and explain everything in detail than be annoyed later that someone doesn't understand things that are obvious to you.
  3. Practice proper feedback - tell not only about mistakes, as we often do, but also good things.
  4. Identify a few of your strengths and focus on developing them, and keep the rest at an acceptable professional level.

3. Teamwork

Teamwork skills are a key soft skill for a developer. Any modern IT product has a whole team of specialists behind it, and the speed of development directly depends on the ability of all the participants to work in a well-coordinated way. A developer must know who is responsible for what and which of his or her colleagues he or she can turn to for advice. It is important to follow the rules and not to get carried away with self-expression: initiative is only useful if it works towards a common goal.

How to learn/what to remember

  1. Be aware of the regulations and follow them clearly.
  2. Don't be afraid to take responsibility for specific tasks and make decisions in your area.
  3. Developers often work in multinational teams - where programmers live in different parts of the world. It is important to be able to express yourself clearly and correctly as well as speak an acceptable level of English. To become more comfortable with professional jargon, you should consider looking at the Tech Terms dictionary, or following an IT English course. Popular imitation techniques can also help you practice your speech.

4. Negotiation

Seemingly, negotiation skills are hardly useful for those who spend hours sitting over code without talking to people. But in modern companies, programmers have to communicate a lot with their colleagues, managers, and customers. For instance, a developer may be brought in as an expert to a meeting with a customer. Negotiations will help in everyday work as well: when choosing a technology, agreeing on a pool of tasks, and evaluating the results. A developer should always be able to defend their point of view.

How to learn/what to remember

  1. Take the free course "Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills" from the University of Michigan.
  2. You can also learn the skill of negotiation on your own - there are many books on the subject. The most popular and useful are "Everything is Negotiable: How to Get the Best Deal Every Time" by Gavin Kennedy and "Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In Paperback" by Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, Bruce Patton.
  3. Practice: be active in meetings, participate in meetups and conferences. With each new presentation, your confidence and skills will grow.

5. Time management

Developers often have to switch between different tasks - it's easy to fall into procrastination or burnout in the workplace. When you have a lot to do, it's important to know how to manage your time. Good time management can help you work more efficiently and be less tired.

How to learn/what to remember

  1. Plan your day in the morning or the night before. Don't underestimate the usual list of tasks in your notes - that way you won't forget anything at least.
  2. Start your day with an unpleasant task. These tasks consume a lot of energy, even if you don't do them. It is better to deal with the most unpleasant things in the early hours of the morning.
  3. Try the Pomodoro technique. The method is simple: work without distraction for 25 minutes straight, then take a five-minute break. After four such working sessions, you can rest for 20 minutes.
  4. There are a lot of books on time management. The most popular is "Getting Things Done, GTD" by David Allen.

The trend towards soft skills is gaining popularity and proves that employers today rely not only on professional skills but also on human qualities. Your ability to work in a team and desire to be of service to the company will become your competitive advantage over a developer with the same set of basic professional skills.

Tips for Boosting Your Hard Skills

When you have put your mind and body in order, it is your turn to practice higher professional skills. If you are at an impasse here, do not despair, there are several effective ways to start progressing again.

1. Use Third-Party Study Resources

The basis in any business is, of course, theory. If you are already tired of reading monotonous books and boring lectures at the university, do not be afraid to use other sites and applications that give you access to courses on a variety of topics. The largest service that allows you to learn new things from the best is, objectively, Coursera.

2. Improve Your Developer Skills with Code Katas

Probably only the lazy one hasn't heard of Kata. This term comes from the Japanese language used in the field of martial arts. However, it has become a useful tool for software developers as well. Code Kata is a set of popular technical exercises with which you can practice and not be afraid of mistakes, which you cannot do at work, unfortunately.

However, most developers do not work correctly with such applications. Often, as in any business, we learn the basics of a topic that is new to us, practice, and move on to the next stage. But think about the fact that in this way you are not preparing yourself for the realities of work, where sometimes every minute counts, and stress makes you a real zombie. Therefore, try to adapt to the challenges by adding intensity to your practice. Don't move on to a new stage until you know the topic perfectly.

3. Set Personal KPIs

It's hard to blame people who don't work with metrics. It often seems that it is useless or even harmful because there is a desire to show off the result and not do the real thing. But practice shows that for most professionals, metrics such as timesheets or Gantt charts become a daily tool to help make the right decisions. A rigorous scientific approach is what sets you apart from most other specialties, so try to use it in everything.

4. Join Professional Communities

The community of programmers is constantly growing, special meetings and events are created for them, and companies of working developers can be found in every second cafe. Follow their example, try attending an event, for example, during World Coderetreat, like-minded gatherings take place around the world. On them, you can learn a lot of new things, which will give you not only to see the work of other specialists but also better understand yourself. If you are not interested in this, just try to gather your colleagues for joint work, your productivity will increase and the pleasure from work will become much more.

Conclusion

To improve yourself as a programmer, you do not need to sit for hours at a time, this is not the most effective way. Software development is an art and you must behave accordingly. Take action, try new things, experiment with yourself and just have fun with your work. After all, you are changing the world for the better, so why not start with yourself.




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