It can be difficult to know where you fit in, especially when scrolling endlessly through a job board. Boy do we feel your pain!
- You may ask yourself:
- Do I possess the required skills needed for a development job?
- Do I know the skills I can offer?
- Can I use my current skills to improve the position I am applying for?
We are here to help provide an answer to all your questions about skills for developers! Job descriptions do not always have the most clear information presented. Rather it is sometimes up to the applicant to figure out what types of skills are the most important to the role, and focus on those during the interview process. A job search for development roles in particular can be a slippery slope, but with these simple steps you become an expert at navigating the roadblocks and coming up with solutions to improve your value as a candidate to any business.
There are 4 key steps to become the epitome of the perfect candidate: identify your skills, know the skills required of the job listing, continuously strive to learn new skills, and know how to apply your skills.
Identify Your Skills
The first step in preparing for a new role is polishing your current skillset. Come in prepared for the new job and make your team confident in your commitment to the business and your role!
In order to improve on your skills, you will first need to identify what your skills are: CSS, HTML, Data Structures, and beyond. The skills you have are not only the ones from a previous job! They can be things you learned during internships, apprenticeships, classes, and even personal projects! When you are considering what your skills are, do not stop at development-specific skills.
If you are wondering how to identify your skills, you are in the right place. Most people do not think about the skills they have on a day-to-day basis, but rather the tasks they have to complete. This is a great place to start! Look at your list of to-do’s or past tasks that you were in charge of. What skills were needed in order for those tasks to get done? Did you have to organize a presentation? You could list time management and public speaking as skills. Do you need to edit code on your company website? List the language you use as a skill. It is not difficult to figure out what your skills are if you know what types of work you have done in the past.
From there, make a list of these skills and then rank them from strongest to weakest. A strong skill is constituted by a couple things: how comfortable you are with the skill and what are the results of you using the skill. As an example, are you familiar with CSS? How comfortable are you using CSS to code a website? What did that website look like when you were done and was it functional with a strong UX? This is an easy visual way to see what areas you can improve upon. If you are creative that is definitely a skill to point out. If you are able to visualize requests without comps, that is also something you could include.
Skills Required for Developer Roles
Now that you know what skills you have, let’s look at the skills you need to be a developer. There are several skills that are required, but they can all be broken down into two categories – coding skills and communication skills. You read that right! You do not only need coding skills, but you will need to be able to effectively communicate with your team and other teams within the company. It is very common for the development team to work hand-in-hand with marketing, account management, and creative teams.
Communication skills are very important for any job! Just because you are looking into a development job, does not mean that you are going to be working alone and have minimal contact with other team members. Effective communication encompasses several different facets including active listening, nonverbal communication, asking questions, being clear, summarizing, being empathetic, providing feedback, and being present. All of these skills help to increase team functionality, while allowing you to become a valued team member.
Developers stereotypically lack face-to-face communication skills, avoiding teamwork and group ideation. However, if you are able to get over this hurdle you can consider yourself a competitive candidate.
Coding skills are going to be at the center of the decision of whether or not you are the right fit for a job. Hiring managers look for a general understanding of:
- Data structures
- Space/time complexity
- Sort and search algorithms
- BFS + DFS
- Dijiskatra’s and Bellman Ford
- Dynamic Programming
You will also need to have a firm understanding of:
- Hash tables & maps
- Stacks & queues
- Runtime complexity (e.g. O(1), O(n), O(logn), etc.)
- Space complexity (e.g. O(1), O(n), O(h), etc.).
There are different types of skills required for different development roles. For example, a front-end developer works primarily with the visual aspects of web & mobile applications. This means they need to know:
- Ruby on Rails
There are some overlap between skills needed for roles, but it is important to know which skills are needed for the position you are applying for. A backend developer works primarily on establishing the server components and architecture for an application. Their skills need to include:
- Objective C
This may seem like a lot of required skills, but do not worry if you do not know all of them! There are easy ways to learn new information and apply them to your work.
Learn New Skills
“Sometimes all it takes to make a difference is the willingness to learn about a problem and use your talents to help solve it.” – Bill Gates
Don’t be turned away from a job just because you are not confident with one of the required skills listed. There are always ways to learn new skills that are time efficient and help you to apply them to your job. Take a specific skill you are not familiar with and search for a course covering the steps to become intermediate or expert level.
How to Apply Skills
It is not simply enough to have the skills needed for a job. You need to apply them to real-life problems, finding ways to solve issues on UX, scalability, and security. So look at your list of skills again, and think about how they can be applied to different situations that could come up in a particular job. Your hard skills can be used to develop fast and scalable applications that run efficiently on people’s computers and mobile devices. This is perhaps one of the most common impacts that a developer has on a business. On the other end of the skills spectrum, you also need to apply your soft skills. Your hard skills will help you with sorting algorithms to solve complex runtime problems, while your soft skills will help a team stay on track and on the same page in terms of responsibilities, timelines, and project details. Soft skills are sometimes also referred to as transferable skills, interpersonal skills, or social skills. They are more difficult to measure, but play a key role in the hiring process. Soft skills form the bond of a team. A hiring manager will ask questions pertaining to both hard and soft skills.
“Soft skills are more important than knowing how to code in today’s job environment.” – CEO, Jeff Weiner
In the end, it is all about how you highlight your skills and how you are able to pivot in an interview to show your strengths. If there is a moment where you feel unqualified, remember that one of the best parts of getting a job is learning new things. Do your research, be confident in your skills, and sell yourself as the best candidate.