Soft Skills

The Software Developer's Life Manual

Yesterday, I began reading a new book titled Soft Skills - the software developer’s life manual. This book is the first non-technical book on software development that I’ve read. It doesn’t talk about how to program something. Rather it contains advice on how software developers should plan their career, market themselves, learn, be productive, manage finances, maintain fitness, and etc. The book has 70+ chapters, but each chapter is a short read. Here are some interesting advices I found in the section on career.

Software developers should think of themselves as a business

Instead of thinking of our career as working for an employer for a paycheck, we should think of our career as business: a business that provides the service of creating software. As a business, we need to think about how to market our services, how to improve it to beat out the competition, and understand the needs of the market. Also, we should know what our end goal is: to become a senior developer, to work as an independent contractor, or to become an entrepreneur. This will help us make career decision to progress towards our goal, instead of waiting for better opportunities or to be fired.

People skills are important

For people skills, the book quoted a few points from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends And Influence People:

  1. Make others feel important
  2. Use praise instead of criticize
  3. Think about what’s it in for the other person
  4. Don’t try to win every argument

I definitely need to work more on my people skills, especially that last one, haha. Being a competitive person, it’s going to be hard to avoid arguments.

Gain advantage before the interview

The book recommends establishing relationships and applying for jobs via referral instead of just sending a resume. Some tips include:

  1. Go to the same club or meetup that the interviewers frequent.
  2. Commenting on the interviewers’ blog and hope they notice and read your blog.
  3. Ask for a pre-interview interview to learn more about the company.

The first tip feels like stalking, but could get you to meet like-minded people and help with networking. I think it’s safer to try the other two.

The book seems pretty interesting so far. Some of the tips on career even matches the IT Principles at CPPIB. Will keep reading it.

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