Have you ever received feedback from your manager that you should improve your communication skills? Or that you should create more visibility for your work? And another one, that you should work on your influencing skills? These are all related to soft skills, and it can be confusing what they mean and how to improve on them.
As a tech manager, I find myself giving that feedback regularly to engineers. About 50% of them get it, however, the other 50% roll their eyes and reply “Soft skills? Pffft, I’m an engineer, I don’t need that. All I gotta do is code harder and learn technologies A and B and I’ll keep on going.”
And that’s where they’re wrong, as sadly, I’ve seen such neglecting of soft skills ending up costing many of them years of stagnation for their tech career. The same could happen to you, or might already be happening to you without you realizing.
I wanted to follow up on my article about career progression for senior developers, by addressing the topic of how to map and learn the skills needed for tech jobs.
So in this series of three articles, I’ll first be covering what is the difference between hard skills and soft skills, and why soft skills matter even if a great part of your job is purely technical.
Another difficult problem is how to prioritize those skills so you can improve predictably. To address that, in the second article I’ll share a map that I’ve created and which shows how different types of skills relate to different career paths.
Finally, in the third and last article, I’ll cover the top skills you should focus on as a senior engineer or as an engineering manager if you want to see fast progress in your personal growth.
Let’s get started with defining the types of skills and why they matter.