In software development, testing, and engineering, being great at what you do is essential. There’s a certain talent for coding and working with software that can’t be ignored. But that’s not all you need for a career. Software developers can easily maintain a hobby on that talent alone, but it takes a lot more to really become a professional in that field.
Mastering your own productivity and how you make use of time is the first step to turning your talent into a real professional skill. You need to be able to deliver quality on schedule and under budget if you’re to make a profit. Beyond time management tips such as productively handling a workload and avoiding distraction, you need to develop software efficiently. This includes introducing practices such as automating more processes when possible and planning the development process by spending a couple of hours before the whiteboard before you touch fingers to keyboard.
Get others organized
If you’re intent on pursuing a career as a software developer, then you’re hopefully going to work your way up at some point. That might mean managing other employees or leading your very own team. To that end, managing other developers needs to be a skill of yours, too. Keeping communication open and free-flowing to avoid clashes, knowing when people need micro-management and when people need freedom to run and work on their own, and encouraging and rewarding progress needs to become part of your job. You have to learn how to handle people, not just the code.
The professional sheen
If you’ve been working only on your own passion projects or favors to others, then there’s a good chance your products aren’t as rigorously finished as they need to be in a professional environment. Changes, bugfixes, and the like are expected for almost any piece of software even after the launch. However, the smoother launch is, the better your work looks to the professionals using your service. That means making use of tools like test case management and organizing changelogs and documentation to go along with the software. You have to be able to create a product that’s ready to stand on its own in the face of the market.
The gift of the gab
If you’re running your own team or freelancing, you also have to be able to adequately present your software and the solutions you can offer to clients. Not only does this mean being able to listen effectively and figure out which problems are most important to the customer and what they really want. It also means being able to handle different kinds of clients, including the ability to avoid those clients from hell who will keep asking for new features to be added just as you’re almost finished with their project.
Having the passion for creating and perfecting software is vital. However, don’t let it blind you to the other talents that are going to help you excel. Whether it’s in keeping clients happy or being able to work consistently to professional standards, your skillset needs to be broader.