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5 essential Software Engineer skills (according to CIOs)

Hard skills are a vital part of every developer’s skillset. As the profession changes however, so do expectations for software engineer skills.

Software engineer skills are not what they used to be. Software engineers in recruitment sessions today are being asked how they can help companies adapt to circumstances changing at breakneck pace. And how their presence will improve the team’s performance as a whole.

The demand shift in software engineers from a mostly technical background to a broader, human-minded profile is part of a growing trend. IT chiefs around the globe are setting their sights on candidates with a strong set of soft skills.  

These are the hot soft skills a software engineer is expected to master in 2021, according to CIOs.

1.   Communication

In a world where everything is moving to digital, it can be easy to lose track of what’s “real” and what’s virtual. The market demands closeness, contact, communication.

A much-requested software engineer skill, communication is defined as the ability to talk and listen, openly, unhinderedly, and with ease. That goes for both the internal team as well as directly with the customer.

Another key software engineer skill that goes hand in hand with communication is approachability. Being approachable is very important in a context where communication between people and teams is needed.

At Near Partner we encourage everyone to develop their skills and enrich their knowledge, especially via active communication with team mates and team leaders. For this particular reason, and to make it the rule and not the exception, we’ve implemented the One-on-One routine (or O3 as we call it) in our office.

A One-on-One is a periodical 30-minute meeting (more or less), usually between a manager and a team member, with the goal of building trust and relationship. This is where we uncover potential issues, share and ask for feedback and connect as a team.

We also encourage choosing the best possible communication channel for each topic at hand. It’s all about being considerate of other people’s time, before we engage. That’s why we try to make communication as efficient as possible. One of the ways we do that is by switching between synchronous comms – phone calls, meetings – and asynchronous (such as chat, text, email). It depends on whether we’re brainstorming a new project, or simply ordering take out.

But don’t write us off as communication robots just yet. There’s plenty of room for surprises, laughter and happiness in our communication.

2.   Team spirit and collaboration

If you have ever been inside an IT office, then you know what we mean. Software engineering is highly collaborative, as we often work in teams. But teamwork won’t take you as far as team spirit – working with others is different from thinking with others.

With team spirit come trust, empathy, ability to listen, and the ability to accept and provide criticism, and working together towards the same goal. These might not strike you as essential software engineer skills, but for us at Near Partner, these soft skills are what keeps us working without friction.

We believe team spirit is a big of our culture, and that’s why all the teams at Near Partner are part of a larger, united group – and yes, we might even run marathons together.

we run marathons

3.   Fast – and eager – learning

The world changes fast and software engineering is no exception.

Software engineers need to learn new things every day, from new projects to new techniques, meeting demands and adapting the way they work. Being a fast – and eager – learner is a must have software engineer skill nowadays. It’s not about just keeping up; it’s about embracing change and thriving on it.

We strongly encourage our developers to leave behind the doctrines they’ve learned, to be technology agnostics. To be ready to abandon the routines they’ve trained in and make way for creative mindsets. As you might suspect, we are big fans of Agile (done right).

4.   Flexibility and adaptability

One of the most important software engineer skills in the job market today is flexibility.

CIOs expect a developer to be comfortable moving between different areas, from integration to deployment. Job descriptions are fluid, not stagnant and they require flexibility.

Sometimes, a software engineer needs to work with a team that is right there next to them. Sometimes he/she needs to collaborate with someone on the other side of the world, a person they’ve never met or worked with before, with a diametrically opposed mindset and background.

How software engineers navigate personal differences to work together as one is an important to CIOs in today’s competitive job market.

This ability to jump back and forth between team and self, creative and methodical, or simple to complex is what makes software engineers thrive as part of a team.

5.   Creative problem solving

This might seem redundant since software engineering is all about solving problems. However, as the software industry becomes more integrated with business, the challenges are ever-growing, and demand soars for creative and effective solutions to trickier problems.

We are problem solvers- Near Partner Blog

Using past experience, formal methods, and theoretical knowledge to solve problems is the basis. But nowadays software engineering requires creativity, critical thinking, and a fair amount of risk taking. And this can be achieved through learning, adapting, questioning, and resilience.

CIOs need problem solvers – for them, setbacks teach valuable lessons and risks are opportunities do better, to do smarter.

Why are these 5 skills so crucial? Sure, they sound like a good thing, but what makes them really important for IT?
They’re necessary to help software engineers pivot from a support to a strategic business part.

When IT was separate from business, software engineers were resorted to in a reactive fashion, and didn’t really need sharp soft skills. But as IT is getting less and less siloed and bleeding into all areas of a company, tech professionals have to adapt and be able to work across teams and departments. They also need to explain the value of their work to different stakeholders.

The good news is that you can develop any skill, hard or soft, with ongoing work and effort. And, if you take a closer look, these 5 software engineer skills complement each other, and each skill makes the next easier.

Are you equipped with these software engineer skills – or really, really keen on developing them? Come along and join our team. We are always looking for talented developers with bright minds, so be sure to check out our open positions, or send us a or send us your CV so we can contact you whenever your profile matches our search criteria.

Patrícia Peixinho

Marketing & communication lover. Curious, imaginative, ingenious. Hungry for challenges and enthusiastic about life!