Soft skills for developers are frequently underestimated by recruiters. And who can blame them? Technology is changing rapidly. Coding is overwhelmed with short-term projects that ask for the best technical acumen a person can offer. Successful project delivery massively depends on how good the developer software skills are.
Under the pressure to finalize a project, the soft skills required for developers will be the easiest to sacrifice.
Therefore, project leaders, HR staff, and even the developers themselves are primarily concerned with the most critical expertise, putting soft skills lower on the scale of priorities.
That is a big mistake.
How can you correct it?
Crucial Soft Skills for Software Developers
If you take a look at the hiring process, this problem will not exactly come to the forefront.
Most technical resumes now list at least five soft skills. Communication, teamwork, and empathy are among the crucial new skills required for developers. Interviewers prepare a long list of soft skills questions for developers and wrap up the interview by asking several of them.
Practically though, when it comes to making decisions who to hire, technical (hard) skills will be the conclusive factor.
The real challenge of such decisions arises when a person comes aboard on the team and starts contributing to a project. All dust that gets slipped under the carpet accumulates and can massively endanger a project.
For that reason, don’t treat soft skills as secondary. Make sure you prioritize the essential ones for each team and each project. Include them in the KPIs and value them as resources. When you do project evaluations, remember to calculate developers’ soft skills into the project budget.
But what are the key soft skills you should concentrate on?
LinkedIn has an updated 2020 list of skills, which is not much different than the last few years. That is why you could use it as guidance when you pick people for your team. Here are the currently most in-demand soft skills for developers, according to LinkedIn:
Creative employees find new ways to perform established tasks, improve current workflows, and processes, or even explore new business models and expand the business as it is.
Borrowed from marketing strategists, persuasion is a soft skill that lets people who have it foster relationships with clients and maximize product benefits. Persuasion skills bring profit. In that sense, each team member must be a bit of a salesperson.
Persuasive people work through the heart, the head, and the hands, bringing logical, emotional, and cooperative appeal on the table. Once developed, persuasive influencing is a true gem for your team, and can deliver unplanned and unexpected benefits.
As a highly appreciated interpersonal skill, you can easily recognize the person who has collaboration on top of their stack of skills.
Such a person is a popular team player, who:
- Solves problems, does not create them
- Admits mistakes
- Recognize personal strengths and weaknesses
- Praises others
- Listens actively
Collaboration skills for developers are a must-have for the digital workplace.
What you can do if your team lack such capabilities? Investing in a learning and development budget is one affordable thing you can undertake as we speak. By attending a soft skills training for developers, programmers can learn how to manage formal and informal communities, create collaboration best practices, share resources, and chat open-mindedly, in an organized way, and nurture a healthy debate.
Freelance workers are the full package as they are responsible for continuous personal development. Hence, hiring freelance workers can solve many of the hiring and teamwork dilemmas without greater risks.
Simply put, adaptability is the skill to be able to deal with change. Unlike creativity, which mainly encompasses self-propelled changes, adaptability is about changes that find you unprepared. The quicker your employees adapt to a change they cannot control, the more your company’s chances for survival in crisis increase.
The common denominator for all interpersonal skills for software developers is emotional intelligence or EI. Emotional intelligence is having the capacity for awareness, control, and expression of one’s emotions.
If a few of your team members have high EQ, they will be able to support and understand those that don’t and take appropriate action when required.
EI can always be worked on, as it involves a complex web of managing one’s relationships with the social network, and that constantly changes.
How to Hire Employees with Exceptional Skills
You can increase your chances of hiring the right person for the job by tweaking the process by which you match candidates with jobs. To be more specific, you need to get out of the for-the-job hiring only.
Instead, adopt a concentric circle recruitment tactic which includes the following circles:
The three concentric circles will help you narrow down the choice to the exceptional matches, effectively removing the outliers.
Start from the wider circle. Hire for the company and search for employees that mirror the company’s mission and values. Deepen the list of values to tweak the group of prospective candidates to the minimum. In this way, you will avoid hiring developers who will be unhappy once they start working, even if they have the best hard skills out there.
Next, check how the candidates fit within the job role. This circle will help you clear out the list from candidates that have appropriate soft skills but lack precise technical expertise for the job.
In the end, make sure the person adjusts quickly to the team dynamics.
Most developers’ teams are smaller groups of approximately 6 to 8 people, so when you introduce a new person, assess their compatibility with existing members.
Sometimes, it is useful to analyze if your team lacks one of the essential soft skills for developers, and see whether the new members can substitute what’s missing.
If you want to know how to manage and lead virtual teams, cut down endless meetings, and create a noise-free working environment, here is a short video:
6 Performance Hacks For Leading Virtual Teams Remotely
Soft Skills Training for Developers
If you cannot find the right person with the set of hard and soft skills required for the job, it is always worth investing in training. Popular e-learning platforms, such as Udemy, have excellent packages with core soft skills for developers, which won’t cost you much.
That choice can help you compensate for the lack of interpersonal aptitude in a candidate that is otherwise exceptionally skilled to do the technical aspect of the job.
Aside from the most popular soft skills required for developers, there are general capabilities for employees that look good on any resume and benefit every workplace. Take note to screen potential candidates by checking their resumes for work ethic, leadership qualities, time management, and conflict resolution.
When you are hiring online, it can be difficult to ask all the questions and you miss on body language.
An online-friendly procedure will help: we have been using an established process that helped us reach out to the best talent.
If you want to know more, get in touch to discuss what’s the secret!
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