Which Soft Skills Do Employers Want Software Developers to Have?

When applying for jobs, software developers often take great care to emphasize their technical skills. However, when it comes to actually landing the position, your “soft skills” (such as empathy and communication) can matter just as much, if not more. 

This is particularly the case for more senior developer positions where you might be required to guide teams and mentor junior developers. In such situations, empathy, communication, and teamwork are the only ways to accomplish your goals. Beyond individual teams, soft skills are likewise vital when it comes to communicating needs and results to other, often non-technical stakeholders throughout an organization, such as executives. 

But which soft skills do employers find most desirable? For an answer, we turn to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country; we can isolate the soft skills that have popped up most in those postings over the past 12 months: 

Like technical skills, soft skills take time, patience, and practice to develop, so it’s important to not get too discouraged if you’re working on improving yours. Here are some additional tips that can potentially help you on this journey:

  • Carve out time to listen to your colleagues and team members. Their concerns are valid. 
  • If your company offers soft skills evaluation and training (and many do), make sure you take it. 
  • Keep your feedback polite and constructive, no matter the circumstances.  
  • Don’t just give feedback. Encourage your colleagues and manager to share how you’re doing as often as possible.  
  • Rely on your mentor and any informal advisors to help you with your people skills. 
  • If you’re given the opportunity to shape your performance goals and evaluation, ask that your soft skills be evaluated on a regular basis. Your manager will approve of your proactiveness (and your company may have such criteria in place already). 

Fortunately, anyone can improve their soft skills—and those skills can greatly boost your chances of landing a new role.

4 Responses to “Which Soft Skills Do Employers Want Software Developers to Have?”

  1. Micheal o'Reilly

    I wish on every interview that one can speak at first to the SW people before HR. HR often has not much of an idea what SW development needs and so they tend to concentrate on secondary attributes instead of ability. Or at least have a SW person on board during an interview.

    • I was fortunate in my career and was interviewed by actual IT people the same day for my first real IT job and when I was promoted to a higher level, it was ONLY IT people that interviewed me.

      I have also helped do the first interviews for internal promotions or lateral moves that were for IT positions. So fortunately, some big corporations do keep the HR drones out of the way for specialized jobs.