LevelForward Blog

Rants about anything

What skills do you REALLY need to be a good software developer?

I have worked with many developers in my professional career. I worked with extremely bright developers who lacked any kind of social skills and developers who could barely understand basic concepts but could be my best friend. I know developers that spend all their free time coding and others who only learn as they go.

So what makes a good developer? Math skills? Logic and reason? It is definitely a blend of many skills that make up the perfect developer. It also depends on the specific role, do you communicate with a large team or the customer? Do you work by yourself on complex scientific data logic? Are you developing intricate enterprise level applications or small IOS apps?

I have worked on all sorts of projects from complex to simple, small to enterprise, solo and on large teams. I have concluded there are two main skills that any developer should have if they want to succeed in almost any environment.

1. A Problem Solving Mindset

Simple. Whether its a website, large data application or a financial API, the goal is the same. Solve the problem. Whatever it takes, however long, whatever you need to learn. Your mindset is to solve it. Period.

2. Understanding your Clients Needs

When I say client in this context I mean everyone you work with is your client. The actual customer, your fellow developers, the lead, the project manager and even the CEO.

I know my fellow developer needs me to finish my task so they can work on theirs. I know my project manager needs me to communicate my status frequently so he can keep his client happy. I know my CEO needs me to produce high quality interfaces so it looks good when they present it to prospective customers.

The reality is the quality of your code is important but in the business world it is not the only goal. The goal is to satisfy your customers ... and most of them never look at your code.

I also want to mention that it does not take a genius to be a developer. I truly believe anyone who is willing to put in the effort can succeed in this industry! You can take courses or learn it yourself, the internet is full of resources, free and cheap.

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