Top Skills You Need For Software Engineering

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By Lexie Brada

Before we get into any of the skills you need for these jobs, we need to talk about a pair of terms that you’ll hear very often in this article and in the hiring world, and if you don’t already know, make it a goal to add them to your vocabulary:

Hard Skills and Soft Skills.

A ‘hard skill’ vs a ‘soft skill’ is not talking about the theoretical difficultness of mastering these skills. Some hard skills can be very easy to learn and some soft skills can be incredibly difficult to master.

Rather, when one talks about ‘hard skills’ and ‘soft skills’, they’re comparing the way you learn these skills, or how you get the knowledge.

Still confused? No worries, let’s break it down.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are the qualifications on your resume that get your foot in the door. You can’t be born with a hard skill. Instead, hard skills are learned, either through work, education, or other training. Hard skills are also measurable. In fact, some interview processes can include testing of these skills, such as Excel or coding, so Hiring Managers can get a quantifiable evaluation of your skills.

The hard skills you’ll need are going to be specific toward your career field, since these skills encompass what you’ll be using in your day-to-day.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are the skills that are much harder to define and harder to teach, but they are just as important in your career. If hard skills are what you’ll do, soft skills define how and how well you’ll do it. For example, say you’re highly skilled in Tableau, a data visualization tool used to present data and finding through visual representation. In order to best present insights to stakeholders and other teams, you will also need strong communication and storytelling skills.

The average person spends around 90,000 hours at their job, so you’ll be around your coworkers more than family. Having great soft skills not only makes you better at your job, but it also makes you an enjoyable person to work with, which means people will want to work with you and see you succeed. In fact, a LinkedIn survey shows that 57% of employers value soft skills over hard ones.

Another reason soft skills are valued is that they transfer easily from job to job. Companies may use a different development stack, a new mailing service, or even a different project management system, but being able to communicate and adapt under pressure will start adding value on day one.

Now that we know what a ‘hard skill’ and a ‘soft skill’ is, let’s take a look at what the job itself entails, which of these skills you’ll need, and some places to gain these skills.

Software Engineering

A Day in the Life

If you've played a video game, been on social media, used Google, or done anything on your smartphone, you've used products built by Software Engineers.

Software Engineers solve problems and build solutions through code. They use programming languages to tell systems and networks what to do.‍

Work Responsibilities

  • Contribute to all aspects of the software process: including architecture, specification reviews, automated testing, implementation, code reviews, debugging, and documentation
  • Design, build, test, and maintain scalable APIs, services, and systems within the platform
  • Produce quality code from specifications and technical designs
  • Create code with robust, automated unit test
  • Integrate software components into a fully functional software system

Hard Skills

  • Programming Languages (Python, R, Java, Scala, etc.)
  • JavaScript (Angular, React, JQuery)
  • Ability to Deep Dive into a Complex System
  • Code Versioning
  • RESTful APIs
  • General Database Knowledge (SQL and noSQL)

Soft Skills

  • Communication
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Problem-Solving
  • Time Management
  • Collaboration/Teamwork
  • Patience

Where To Get These Hard Skills: