I talk to many people who are thinking about switching careers and jumping into the world of programming. One of their biggest concerns is making up for the lost time.
They think that if they want to compete with people who have been working in this field for a long time, they need to learn every language and master every technical skill right away.
This is a big mistake.
Don’t get me wrong. Technical skills are essential to your career. If you can’t write code, it’s pretty hard to be a programmer.
But, the thing that sets the best programmers apart from the rest isn’t their technical ability.
It’s the “soft” skills that so many programmers ignore.
You see, programming is a lot more than writing and debugging code.
The best programmers understand one essential thing: these non-programming skills often get you more jobs, promotions, interviews, customers, and clients than your technical programming skills.
A competent programmer who communicates well and is a great team player will get far more opportunities than an excellent programmer who fights with everyone and can’t talk to their team.
So, what non-programming skills will take your programming skills to the next level?
Let’s talk about that today.
It doesn’t matter what career path you take. Communication is essential. Sometimes you’ll need to communicate with peers about technical issues clearly and accurately so you can deliver a project by a deadline. Other times, you’ll need to communicate your work to someone who has no idea how to write code. Most programmers severely underestimate how difficult it is to communicate with non-programmers without using technical jargon. Learning how to communicate clearly with everyone makes you stand out.
One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is to consistently and reliably get things done when you say they’ll be done. This is especially true because you never know when (or if) you’ll suddenly crash into a problem that may throw your timeline into question. The difference between delivering a finished project on time and an unfinished project late comes down to time management. All the knowledge and skills in the world won’t get you very far if you can’t manage your work and finish it on time. No matter what you are doing, managing your time is essential.
Programming is all about problem-solving. You’ll need to find creative ways to write code, debug code, and improve programs that other people have built. Finding new and interesting solutions to problems helps you stand out from the crowd. Often, you’ll be given a vision or a goal by someone, and you’ll have to figure out the best way to deliver it with problem-solving. New companies, new programs, and new technologies have been created by people who find new ways to solve everyday problems. Every team, every company, and client needs problem solvers who can look at an issue and find a solution.
Writing is an essential skill that will follow you wherever you go. Whether you are writing manuals or firing off an email to provide your division’s director an update on a project, you’ll be writing. Typos, poor grammar, and unprofessional writing cause coworkers, employees, superiors, and customers to misunderstand or mistrust you. But, clear writing free of grammatical issues will build trust.
No programmer ever works totally alone. You’ll write code and develop programming in teams and for customers and clients. People remember what it is like to work with you. If you are challenging to work with or get a reputation for being difficult, you could miss out on promotions or opportunities even if you have the technical skills to do the job. People want to work with great teammates and will overlook other skills to work with someone who knows how to work as a team.
No matter how good or dedicated you are to your craft. Things will go wrong. You will miss a deadline because of an unexpected technical issue. You will forget about a requirement and not write something important into a piece of code. Or, you’ll simply make a mistake. What do you do when things go wrong? Do you try to lay the blame on someone else or take responsibility? Do you like or speak in half-truths when it serves you? Or, do you take credit for the good and the bad? If you want to have credibility in your carer, you must have accountability.
The world of programming never stands still. There’s always a new language, new technology, or application that is getting ready to upend the world. That’s half the fun of becoming a programmer. You’ll need to learn throughout your career. The technical skills you need today won’t be the technical skills you need tomorrow. If you are curious and always learning, you’ll be ready and adaptable to the changes you experience.
Technical skills like writing and debugging code will only take you so far. To build a great career, you’ll need to embrace these skills to help you make the most of your technical knowledge.
Always remember, the best programmer in the world will only go as far as their soft skills will take them.
Don’t neglect these skills. They’ll make you a better programmer and a better person, and they don’t even require a class. You can practice them today!
Thanks for reading!