Take care of your soft skills

5 min read
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I’m not sure how unpopular this opinion is but I believe that for most of the positions I have covered, soft skills were way more important than technical aspects.

As long as you are willing to learn, and motivated enough you can always get better technically speaking.

But soft skills, that is a different topic, where it doesn't matter how much you read about it, it is mainly always related to behaviors and manners. I am not telling that this can’t be taught or learned, but it's harder.

If we look back and think about our previous experiences, we tend (or at least I do) to remember them as good or bad based on the people and project as a whole and not linked to a specific technology.

The fun fact is that, on average, companies normally assess soft skills deeply (usually called cultural fit or behavioral interview) at the end of the round of interviews. While for me this should be the first filter. Hate to call it a "filter” but it makes it easier to understand.

Both types of interviews are really hard to make and assess, people doing interviews should be trained and paid to do it. This is a different skill set to have and doing these types of sessions can produce context-switching chaos, causing the interviewee to have a bad first impression. More to come on this subject soon, so stay tuned!

Whether you are a senior or a junior developer if you were to measure the time you spend coding and not coding, what would be the result?

With no coding I mean, any agile meetings you can think of, whiteboard discussing with colleagues, reading and understanding problems, helping others, etc.

Well, in my case taking a hard guess based on what I have seen in my calendar and doing high overviews estimation I would say I spend only 40% of my time coding solutions, sometimes less. And the rest of the time is somehow linked to activities where my soft skills are way more important than my technical skills.

And that's the main reason why whenever I get questions about a career path or what people should learn when taking their first steps into this field, is to focus on the processes, communication, and people. The technicalities will come with time, you will eventually feel more comfortable and get better at it.

Learn about how to give and receive feedback, lean communication, learn English if you are not a native speaker, feel comfortable about sharing that you don't know anything about X, how to put the team over your personal opinions, how to listen to others, how to respect and support unrepresented groups, among other things to keep in mind.

Be the person that you would like to work with, not the one you will possibly avoid.

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I do believe that writing/blogging about technical things is important and necessary. But since there is already much technical content I took a different path to where I think I can give more to the community and decided to start writing about other skills or social-related topics, also known as soft skills.

Daily, we focus too much on technical aspects and we tend to forget or put aside other aspects of this combination of social and behavioral abilities.

During the last few years, after having so many people getting burnout, or maybe being open to sharing it, it has thankfully become a serious topic, and just like that, I started to see more people caring about subjects such as open communication, proactivity, teamwork, mentoring, frustration, work-life balance, just to name a few.

It is not always easy, and it will never be! Even more now with this globalization/internalization booming in the market we often see this cultural barrier (on top of different personalities) making relationships at work even harder.

How do you deal with your day-to-day relationship, are you afraid of asking for help? This can be more important than you think to have good relationships with your pairs.

During a round of interviews, I was asked:

How would I react in case I have to ask something technical to other colleagues, would I feel bad for not knowing that specific thing?

As you can imagine, my answer was not, but in other situations, I would have just spent a useless amount of time trying to find an answer on my own. But today things are different, I am not afraid of what people might think about me because of the questions I ask.

Selling yourself can be also considered as part of a nice soft skill to have, negotiations and believing in yourself and the way you explain things to others could be a game-changer in your professional life. Or even when having 1:1 type of meetings with our managers, the ability to communicate what are our goals and expectations might change the way you progress through your career.

A story I can relate to is that one time I got mad or thought it was unfair that a person was getting way more money than me and we were doing the same work daily. Well, that was a wrong assumption. The thing is, I was only looking at one side of the coin and looking and the technical expertise. But truth be told, that person was way better than me when managing expectations, communications, presentation skills, and most of all negotiating his salary.

Like many other situations that you can imagine, I just thought about sharing some of them to show the impact your social or soft skills can have on your daily work.

Thanks for reading ❤️

Written by Manu

I am a product-driven JavaScript developer, passionate about sharing experiences in the IT world, from a human-centric perspective.

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