11 Software Developer Soft Skills for Professional Success

Updated December 9, 2022

The field of software development requires extensive technical skills to succeed, however, soft skills are also extremely important. These personality traits help developers work efficiently and productively with their colleagues. Learning about common soft skills in the technology industry can help you build your own skills, improve them and apply them at work.

In this article, we list 11 software developer soft skills you can practice, provide tips for using them effectively, share how to improve them and explain how to showcase your abilities during your job search.

What are software developer soft skills?

Software developer soft skills are abilities that enable people to interact well with others in their work environment and complete their work efficiently. These differ from technical skills, like writing code and designing user interfaces. While those skills are also important, soft skills can enhance your technical abilities, allowing you to assess the needs of members of your team and organize your plans for designing programs.

Related: 10 Great Reasons To Be a Software Developer

11 useful soft skills for software developers

If you're interested in becoming a software developer, you may use the following soft skills in your role:

1. Communication

Communication is an integral part of software development. Developers may work with engineers and stakeholders, so it's important for them to communicate their progress on their projects. Types of communication software developers might use include:

  • Interpersonal: Interpersonal communication involves one-on-one interactions, where software developers adjust their communication style depending on the individual with whom they're speaking. For example, developers may use more technical language when talking with a colleague and simpler terms when conversing with a client.

  • Active listening: In workplace interactions, it's necessary for software developers to listen, understand and respond appropriately. Active listening entails concentrating on what the speaker is saying and using nonverbal cues, such as nodding, to show you're comprehending the speaker's words.

  • Public speaking: As software developers design new technology products, they may need to lead presentations. Public speaking skills include projecting your voice and using clear pronunciation that's easy for the audience to comprehend. 

Related: Top 10 Communication Skills for Career Success

2. Emotional intelligence

In a software developer position, emotional intelligence refers to how you respond to challenging situations in the workplace. With high emotional intelligence, you can:

  • Remain calm when you encounter unforeseen circumstances, like overspending budgets or changing client demands

  • Persevere through professional challenges

  • Retain focus on achieving organizational goals

  • Understand the challenges that peers might face and support those peers accordingly

3. Adaptability

Adaptability refers to adjusting to new circumstances. For software developers might involve the needs of users and technology, which often evolve over time. These changes can require a fresh approach to design. People who are adaptable can modify their building processes and performance standards to reflect changes.

Related: 6 Important Workplace Adaptability Skills (With Examples)

4. Creativity

As developers build software, they use creative strategies to design technology that attracts users and satisfies clients. Creativity can also help clients notice new technology when comparing it to that of competitors. This makes means that when software developers can think of new ways to approach the development process, they may help improve company sales. 

5. Problem solving

When software developers troubleshoot their products to make sure they work properly, problem-solving skills allow them to identify and fix technical errors. Software developers typically analyze their work and devise helpful solutions. For example, if the program functions differently as intended, developers may review the code to determine the source of the problem and install an application to enhance the software's performance.

Related: 14 Effective Problem-Solving Strategies

6. Patience

The software development process can be long and complex, so it's often helpful for developers to practice patience. Patience can help developers:

  • Maintain their levels of productivity

  • Continue to produce quality work

  • Preserve when they encounter challenges like bugs in the code or new client requests

It may also be necessary for interpersonal relationships in the workplace. When working with other members of their team, software developers can use patience when training new personnel or waiting on manufacturers to deliver equipment, for example.

7. Self-awareness

While constructive feedback from colleagues may be helpful, self-awareness can enable software developers to review their professional qualities on their own. With self-awareness, they can:

  • Recognize areas where they perform well and areas where they might benefit from improvement

  • Track the quality of their work performance and ensure they're being an approachable manager or team member

  • Build their confidence as software developers, which may allow them to take more initiative in the workplace and continue to increase their competence

Related: What Is Self-Awareness? (And How To Increase Yours)

8. Time management

Clients may impose deadlines for the submission of the final product, making it necessary for software developers to manage their time effectively. Time management can include creating a schedule for the entire development process, where developers reserve days for completing their tasks and hold one another accountable for finishing projects on time. It can also involve setting timers for small tasks to ensure you complete them quickly. 

9. Negotiation

Once software developers create a design plan for an application, they may use negotiating tactics to align their interests with those of their stakeholders and clients. For instance, clients may have certain expectations, and organizational leaders may only allocate certain resources to finish the project. Developers can negotiate a more extensive budget from upper management or less strict deadlines from clients to help ensure their work satisfies every party.

Related: 12 Important Negotiation Skills (With Definition and Examples)

10. Collaboration

With cohesive teamwork, software developers can work productively with their coworkers to accomplish their tasks. Software design and testing may require the expertise of several specialists with different work styles, including:

  • Software engineers 

  • User interface (UI) designer

  • User experience (UX) designer

  • Project managers

  • Marketers

Software developers who welcome collaboration can build positive workplace connections with their coworkers and managers, and they can learn from their colleagues.

11. Leadership

Leadership is an essential soft skill for software developers who are interested in becoming managers or leading a team on a project. As a leader, you may be responsible for tasks such as:

  • Mentoring new members of the team

  • Resolving workplace conflict

  • Making challenging decisions

  • Delegating tasks to team members

  • Measuring the performance of team members

Related: What Does Leadership Mean?

Tips for practicing soft skills in the workplace

Here are tips for practicing your abilities in a professional setting:

  • Find creative solutions to problems. Effective developers can combine creativity and problem-solving skills. This type of problem solving can allow them to research new technical challenges and ask for assistance from colleagues, determining the most efficient way to fix the error.

  • Adapt to changes in the work environment. Software developers can use a combination of creativity and adaptability to remain productive in an unexpected situation. For example, if a company reassembles the budget for a project, developers can creatively search for cost-effective and quality equipment to use for their designs, adjusting to the change in the budget.

  • Practice patience when managing your time. A combination of patience and time management can help software developers complete their projects while staying organized. For example, a delay in the shipment of hardware may require you to be patient, while time management skills allow you to refine your schedule to account for the delay.

  • Communicate thoroughly when collaborating with coworkers. Team members may benefit from knowing how to welcome different perspectives and resolve group conflict. For example, if several developers have conflicting approaches on what user-facing technology to use, they can communicate their thoughts and compromise on how to approach the task.

  • Use emotional intelligence in your leadership style. An emotionally intelligent leader can be an impactful leader. With emotional intelligence, you can maintain a positive attitude and professional setting for your team at all times. 

Related: How To Become a Software Development Manager

How to improve soft skills for software developers

To improve your soft skills for a software developer position, consider using the following techniques:

1. Identify the areas you need to improve

The first step to improvement is to recognize your existing skills and the areas where you can improve. Reflect on your workplace performance and make a list of the abilities you want to enhance. 

For example, perhaps you discover you might improve your public speaking skills, or you want to learn how to approach the development process more creatively. Knowing the specific abilities you need to strengthen can allow you to focus your efforts in the right areas.

2. Practice building your soft skills

Actively practicing new skills is vital to becoming proficient. Search for opportunities to test your abilities, particularly in areas that might benefit most. As you practice your abilities, it may be helpful to reflect on your performance and how close you may be to reaching your goals.

For instance, if you want to become a better problem-solver, you might volunteer to manage a complicated project. If you're interested in managing your time better, you can practice writing your job duties in a planner and tracking how much time you spend on each task. 

3. Ask for feedback

An impartial perspective from a colleague or mentor can help you assess the levels of your soft skills. Ask someone that you work with to examine your performance in the workplace. Other team members can provide constructive criticism on where you need to improve, and suggest what you can do to become a better software developer.

Related: How To Get Your First Job as a Software Developer (Skills and Tips)

Ways to emphasize your soft skills

If you're interested in applying for software developer roles, then learning how to emphasize your soft skills can help you capture the attention of prospective employers. You can highlight your abilities in the following ways:

Soft skills for your resume

Hiring managers read your resume to decide if you have the necessary qualifications for a job. This means it may be helpful to list relevant soft skills on your resume. Consider reviewing the job description to find out what particular abilities the employer seeks in a candidate, then incorporate them in your skills section. 

For example, if a job posting states a preference for candidates who work well with others and lead monthly assembly meetings, you can list public speaking and collaboration as soft skills you possess.

Software developer soft skills for your cover letter

Employers may require you to submit a cover letter with your application. You can use this letter to write about the soft skills that make you a good fit for your desired role. Emphasize your abilities and provide examples of you using them in your letter. 

For instance, if you can empathize well, you can write about helping address the needs of your teammates and encouraging them to grow professionally.

Related: How To Get Your First Job as a Software Developer (Skills and Tips)

Software developer soft skills in the job interview

The interview is another opportunity for you to showcase your soft skills and cite examples of you practicing them in the field. Consider using specific language so the interviewer fully understands the situation and your contributions. You can also describe how you've worked to improve your skills over time, which can show the employer that you're receptive to feedback and are eager to learn.


Explore more articles

  • How To Record Disposal of Assets in 5 Steps (With Examples)
  • How To Use Tasks In Outlook To Stay Organized (With Tips)
  • How To Calculate Gross Profit Percentage (With Examples)
  • IT Requirements and Qualifications (With Careers in IT)
  • 12 Reasons Why Internal Controls Are Important in Any Business
  • How to Properly Format a Business Email
  • How To Make a Professional-Quality Letterhead in Word
  • How To View Your Saved Edit History in Google Sheets
  • 30 Fun Certifications You Can Pursue To Get a Job You Enjoy
  • 10 Examples of Training Programs and Their Benefits
  • How To Create a Two-Variable Table in Excel in 5 Steps
  • How to Calculate Year-Over-Year Growth (With Benefits)