Technical Skills Aren’t Everything

programmers sitting on table together and working on laptops

The tech job market is going absolutely bonkers at the moment: while there are a lot of job openings being posted, there’s also an unfortunate surge in position layoffs as well as offer rescissions. As a result, many of you are probably either applying for new opportunities right now or have just accepted ones recently. Thus, I think it’s important to shed light on the notion that technical skills aren’t everything in the overall hiring process and that a lot of other factors are taken into consideration, especially from a behavioral perspective.

See, at the end of the day, a company isn’t just looking for an absolute beast of a coder. While that coder may very well be capable of solving some of the company’s biggest technical challenges, they could very well also be a bad apple that negatively impacts the other coworkers around them. For instance, they could be extremely cocky and not only turn down any constructive criticism but also look down on others and belittle them. It could also be something not so much as negative such as the person being indecisive or that they are a blind follower or anything else of that sort.

It’s quite clear that the human resources (HR) team is stuck with a tradeoff when deciding to choose based on talent versus cultural and team fit. Ideally, they’d like to find a candidate who is both talented and fits the team culture super well, but that isn’t always the case, and sometimes they’re forced to find a middle point between both qualification metrics.

But what does that mean for you and I? It means that we’re better off honing in on both our technical skills and behavioral skills. It’s important for us to practice solving coding problems and learn how to design highly scalable and complex systems, but it’s equally, if not more, important to also make sure we behave well as part of the work force and learn good practices. It’s imperative that we learn how to work with all types of people in a politically correct manner: insecure coworkers, nightmare managers, lazy coworkers, etc. Some of my favorite behavioral aspects that I think you and I should work on in our career journeys are listed below:

  • Patience – You will come across many coworkers who will test your patience levels to the limit. You could be attempting to teach a coworker some concept and it may seem like they can’t comprehend it no matter how you try to explain. Be patient and keep trying. Even if they don’t end up understanding the concept at the end through you, they’ll at the very least appreciate that you respectfully tried your best, that you cared about their learning and advancement, and that you didn’t make them feel like they were stupid or anything of that sort.
  • Decision Making – Nobody likes a person who is indecisive and just follows people blindly. When it comes to designing large systems, nobody is going to tell you every specific detail such as “use this language” or “make use of this service.” Instead, they’ll leave such decisions for you to make. They like a person who can assess all the possible options that can be exploited and figure out what’s best for the effort being worked on. They like someone who can creatively fill in the gaps in a system design problem without being told how to do so.
  • Passion – Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people who just work and do what they’re told to do, but you don’t feel like they are actually driven to make whatever they’re working on a master piece or to leave a huge impact. Don’t be like them. Work with all your heart and be convinced of the project you are building. Aim to write top quality code that can be reused and modified later. Try to make people’s lives easier by solving their problems. Don’t just work 8 hours and just call it a day. Instead, go the extra mile and show people that you care about their success and satisfaction as well as the success of the project overall.
  • Efficient Listening Skills – Communication is a two-way street. Just like you want to talk and have people understand you, other people also want the same for themselves. Practice listening attentively to every detail people see. People tend to get very irritated when they find themselves repeating the same thing over and over to others or if they feel like others aren’t listening closely to specific details they’re mentioning in conversation.
  • Availability & Resilience – People love a person who is always ready and available to help. They love a person who cares about helping them solve their problems. On top of all that, they love a person who they know they can rely on regardless of how difficult times may be.

There’s a lot more behavioral characteristics that one should shoot for out there all over the Internet, but these are some of my favorite ones. I would seriously suggest looking for other ones and working on developing them. Pick a few like one or two and drill them until they’re a part of your life, and then rinse and repeat the whole process. And of course, don’t forget to sharpen your technical skills throughout the process because companies will always be on the lookout for talented programmers 😉

Closing Note

If you’ve made it this far in the post, I appreciate your time reading this post. It means a lot to me. Feel free to like the post and drop a comment below and share your thoughts with others reading these posts. In addition to that, you’re always welcome to join my RealDevTalk community on Twitter here. Until next time, take care 👌

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