5 Traits to Stand Out as a Developer
What makes a good developer? A lot of people believe that the only way to be a good developer or programmer is by developing their technical skills.
Jun 2019 - 4 minutes read
They put all of their effort into learning new coding languages, contributing to open source projects, and refining their coding practices until they feel like they’re at the top of their game. Many people make the mistake of learning these skills in isolation, and are able to put them into practice only on their own terms. Even though they may have built an excellent technical skillset, it’s important to realize that there are other essential traits that make someone an exceptional programmer.
If you look at the development industry today, you’ll see a lot of people who have a great mastery of the technical skills. Unfortunately, in this crowded field, technical mastery will only get you so far. If you’re looking to stand out to potential employers or clients, you’ll need to develop some of these key traits, which we’ve identified in many of the most successful developers working today.
A great developer doesn’t need to have all of the required technical skills mastered at the beginning of a project- they just need to know how to start. So many people think that they need to know absolutely everything about PHP before they seek out a career in the industry, but the key isn’t having all the information- because honestly, who does? A great developer can identify their shortcomings, then use their resourcefulness and research skills to find the answers that they need. They’re not afraid to ask questions, and are willing to put in the leg work to find the solution to their problem- either online, or with the assistance of their peers.
Becoming a successful developer takes a lot of trial and error. On every project, you’ll deal with coding issues, or struggle with an application for an entire afternoon just to have it break down. These mistakes and errors can be frustrating, but a good developer doesn’t let it ruin the rest of their day. They pick themselves up, diffuse their frustration, and get back to work. This is especially important when you’re on a tight deadline. Take a few moments away from your desk, grab a drink of water, and take some deep breaths- then get back to work. Figuring out how to move beyond momentary frustration is a great skill for any developer to learn, and is even more valuable if you’re thinking about working in an agency or office setting.
When you’re writing code, it’s really easy to get caught up in the rhythm, and not think ahead about how it will all work together. A great skill for a developer to learn early on is how to think proactively. Like in chess, developers should always be thinking three steps ahead. Being a proactive thinker is a useful skill in coding, but it’s also a sought-after skill for an employee. People who are able to look ahead and see the big picture are extremely valuable to have on any project. Someone who doesn’t think ahead, and gets stuck catastrophizing instead of proactively thinking of solutions will quickly become a drain on any team. If you get in the habit of thinking proactively early on in your career, you’ll quickly identify yourself as a valuable developer and teammate to have around.
There’s so much to learn about development, and a great programmer is someone that never stops learning and growing. To really achieve success in any programming language, you have to think of it as a hobby, rather than a 9-to-5 job. Reading books about programming, listening to podcasts, browsing new posts on forums and Reddit, and talking about it with friends are just some of the ways you can keep your skills fresh. If you become complacent, and lose the drive to improve, your skills will quickly become outdated, and you’ll be left behind as people with more passionate interest in the work take your place.
The best way to learn is to be constantly, unendingly curious. It’s what keeps people motivated, and prompts them to try things again and again until they’re able to identify the best way to execute each task. Being able to think outside of the box and try new things without judgement are key skills for developers. Developers who are curious and open-minded aren’t satisfied with just accomplishing a task- they’re always thinking about ways that they can improve on their own skills and learn from the experience of others. Being able to learn from others requires a lot of humility, which is difficult for a lot of people to grasp. If you can get over your own ego, you’ll learn a lot from watching more experienced developers work.
Can You Become a Good Programmer?
If you look at a thriving development team, you’ll see that the elements that make them successful are not their technical skills. When teams are able to work together, they become more than the sum of their parts. For this reason, collaboration and collective brainstorming can solve many problems that a single developer could never handle on their own. Hiring people with these five traits- resourcefulness, patience, the ability to think proactively, passion, and curiosity- has become extremely important. If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in development, think about the ways that you can develop these traits in yourself. You’ll probably find that they come in handy.