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7 Most Valuable Soft Skills of Exceptional Software Engineers

When interviewing and screening candidates, business managers often put technical skills on a pedestal, over even professional skills.

On some level, this makes sense because a software engineer’s technical skill will define the quality of work that they can deliver. And make no mistake, quality comes above everything in software development.

However, there is more to the development process than just coding and creating useful features for customers. Building great software applications rely heavily on the ability to work and communicate effectively as a team.

During your hiring process, you look for soft skills that complement the technological knowledge of your potential hires. Soft skills should not replace the need for technical skills, but they are necessary for keeping a positive work environment.

1. Creativity

Creativity isn’t limited to artists and poets.

Technical professions have creative elements as well. Believe it or not, finding solutions to complex problems requires a creative thinking process.

Creativity is a source of technological development and innovation. If you take it out of the software development equation, you’d have a software developer that never comes up with any good ideas.

2. Problem-Solving

Problem-solving is more of a cluster of skills, rather than just one skill.

It’s a way of thinking that embraces the complexity of the situation and strives to find the most optimal solution to the problem at hand.

It means finding a solid solution instead of using a quick fix.

For this reason, problem-solving and creativity are tied together. A good problem-solver will take user experience into consideration and aims to provide additional value to the end-user.

3. Communication

Communication is the foundation of collaboration, an essential part of any software development project.

Being an effective communicator includes having the ability to make your ideas clear to your team, as well as having the willingness to listen to your fellow team members.

Misunderstandings can cause great harm to your project. Neither you nor your developers should make assumptions.

Hire a software engineer who will take the time to clarify details and remember that everyone is on the same team. Maintaining active, respectful, and empathetic communication is crucial for successful software development projects.

4. Patience

A short temper isn’t a desirable trait in any industry. It can add unnecessary pressure both for your team and their client(s).

Bugs and complications in the development process are guaranteed, so you’ll want a developer who is able to work through these moments with some type of elegance.

5. Open-Mindedness

To keep an open mind is to be able to receive and consider new information. A close-minded software engineer will only hold your team back and you don’t need that type of energy.

An open mind leads the way to critical thinking and reasoning. Hire software engineers that will be the first to admit that they don’t know everything and are hungry to learn more.

These are also the type of engineers that are open to trying solutions to problems even if it’s something they aren’t familiar with. They’ll have the confidence to roll their sleeves up and dive into the code.

These are the type of rock stars you want to have on your software development team.

6. Ability to Learn

The ability to learn has less to do with being open-minded and more to do with a developer’s actual ability to pick up a new technology and do something useful with it.

Smart developers aren’t limited to one programming language or tech-stack.

They know that most programming languages and technologies follow the same underlying principles and will be able to pick up technology-specific nuances a lot more efficiently.

7. Teamwork

At this point, it should be obvious that the software engineers you hire will need to be able to work on a team.

Software engineers who are team-oriented should be wholeheartedly invested in the team's success. In an ideal environment, that means every stakeholder is involved – clients, designers, developers, management, and end-users.

Teamwork enables trust between team members, supports healthy debate and the exchange of ideas in order to find an optimal solution, and creates an environment of accountability.

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