The Simple Programmer: Working on the Soft Skills

Posted on Sat 21 November 2015 in Tech

In my continual quest for knoweldge, I don't always consume purely technical literature. I also like to read those books that teach us how to interact with people. As I continue down my career path, it's becoming more and more clear to me that the so-called "soft skills" are vital skills that everyone needs: developers included. We developers tend to think that the best solution will always bubble up to the top, or that the smartest and/or most knowledgable person will get promoted, but that is not always the case. What happens more often than not, is that the person that is able to most clearly, persuasively, and confidently communicate his or her ideas is the person that will be the most successful. This is true in any avenue in life, so I see reading these books and applying their teachings to my life to not only be a boost to my career, but also in my personal life.

To that end I started reading the excellent Soft Skills book by John Sonmez. This book teaches valuable life lessons in general, but it also has some very good advice for people specifically in the software profession. The book includes some advice on marketing yourself, and heavily recommends setting up a blog and consistently updating it. I agreed with this suggestion and blogging is something I have done in the past and greatly enjoyed, so I decided to reboot my blog.

Somewhere I eventually stumbled on John's free email blogging course and was instantly hooked. The course lessons are delivered to your inbox twice weekly, and the lessons are paced well: I didn't feel overwhelmed with too much work. The courses will walk you through the benefits of blogging, some roadblocks you might face and how to overcome them, and is a great foundation to kickstart your new (or rebooted) blog. John also provides more advice on blogging, careers, and other general tech topics on his Simple Programmer site.

I really can't recommend his course enough if you're looking at starting or rebooting your blog and boosting your personal brand. It's well worth the time invested.

But beyond that I also can't overstate the benefits of honing your soft skills along with your more traditional technical skills. I've found synergy in blogging with my technical career in that I'm becoming better at expressing myself through writing. So whether you start the blogging course or not, I encourage everyone to ponder what soft skills you might personally be lacking, and to start thinking about ways you can improve them. There's a myriad of books on this topic, but I'd suggest starting with John's Soft Skills book as it's targeted directly at our profession. He also references many other general soft skills books (like the excellent How to Win Friends and Influence People) so it's a good place to start.

So, a little diversion from Swift, but a worthwhile one in my opinion. I encourage everyone to take a second and think about how to market yourself a little better, or how to improve your soft skills. If you're up for it, starting on the blogging course is a great way to do both, and so is adding some soft skills books into your rotation.