There comes a time in everyone’s career that you might think that you are a senior developer. Even if you excel in your field, you might not have the needed soft skills to become a senior developer. At Bytex, we wanted to have a clear understanding of what this would mean.
In trying to define what a senior developer should look like, I am using 4 major skills sets that include both technical and non-technical items.
Major Skill sets
1. Being a sole programmer
Touching this idea doesn’t mean you need to be a full stack developer, but you will be required to understand the other side of things (being FE or BE), making educated guesses and being able to debug issues. Another key component to this is testing. Being able to create your own testing environment and design both unit and end-to-end tests is a must. A senior developer is able to switch between different frameworks with ease.
2. Mentoring and helping other programmers grow; being an active speaker in the community
You can feel it when you’ve become a senior developer. When more and more colleagues from both your team and other you feel that they trust your judgement and you know see you as a go to person. They are not after your project knowledge but your overall mindset. Get involved in more projects, guide them technically, provide support, help them in parallel with your own tasks (as a senior you manage to finish your own work faster);
3. Navigating social and political issues inside an organization
A senior developer leads by example. He provides the most accurate work breakdown structure and estimates, he is the one asking the most questions regarding specific functionalities, debates whether the best User Experience is provided and also he is the one leading the team through tough times, even by defending technical choices to non-technical staff.
4. Matching technical solutions to business needs
A senior developer does not choose the coolest, newest or the most “correct” solution. He takes into consideration what impact would that choice have on the other members of the team and think about the strengths of his teammates when choosing. Ultimately they choose the solution that will be easy to teach, easy to debug and easy to maintain.
Bytex Senior soft skills
From the above we can extract a set of soft skills that we, at Bytex, value the most in our senior developers.
- Communication. This needs to be made in 3 directions: within the team, with the project manager/upper management, with the client. Communication needs to be clear and to the point both oral and in writing;
- Ability to work with little to no direction. A senior developer know what the app needs to be doing and where is headed;
- Leadership. A senior developer coaches the people around him, offers direction and manages tasks;
- Team player. Help others with all the positivity you can;
- Time management. You need to always be aware of the deadline, work with other teammates to finish the tasks in time, put pressure on the rest of the team if needed, say good work when a milestone has been passed.
To make a long story a bit shorter, a senior developer is a leader, a mentor and the client facing business card for his team.