5 Most Valuable Soft Skills for Remote Developers

Talented Soft-Skilled Programmers with Powerful Ideas

By 2023, the employment outlook for software engineers is predicted to experience a 17% increase, meaning that there is no shortage of organisations looking to hire remote software developers. However, due to the high number of qualified candidates, it can be difficult to find the right software engineer for the role. Even if a candidate does not possess the most sought-after technical skills or an impressive job history, there are other indicators that recruiters can consider which can demonstrate that the individual will be a dedicated and skilled IT professional. Knowing what to look for is key when making a successful hire.

As managers, it is essential to take into consideration a potential employee’s interpersonal skills when recruiting remote engineers; these traits, which are more related to personality than technical ability, can be just as important as their technical skills. Examples of desirable soft skills among developers include being a quick learner, self-motivation, strong communication, and the ability to plan effectively. Recent surveys suggest that recruiters now place equal value on hard and soft talents, with 66% of respondents stating that self-motivation is a crucial soft skill among applicants.

Soft skills can be a major differentiator between similarly qualified software engineers when it comes to selecting suitable candidates for a role. Therefore, here are five key steps to consider when assessing the soft skills of remote software engineers:

  1. Assess their communication skills – this includes their ability to listen and respond effectively to instructions and feedback.
  2. Examine their problem-solving and decision-making capabilities – this includes their ability to identify, analyse and address potential issues.
  3. Evaluate their ability to work independently and collaboratively with others – this includes their ability to work productively with minimal supervision.
  4. Consider their attitude and proactivity – this includes their willingness to take responsibility and ownership of tasks.
  5. Analyse their emotional intelligence – this includes their capacity for empathy and self-awareness.

By following these guidelines, employers should be able to identify software engineers who have the necessary soft skills to excel in a remote working environment.

1. They don’t resort to specialised terminology

Remote engineers often make use of online tools such as Slack, email, and Jira to collaborate, so having excellent written and verbal communication skills is essential. Keeping communication clear and concise helps to minimise the potential for scheduling issues, project errors, and strained relationships. When looking for a remote engineer with superb communication skills, it is beneficial to find someone who does not use slang but rather speaks in simple, straightforward language. Research has found that high-performing businesses utilise jargon-free language twice as much as average businesses, as this reduces the chances of confusion and errors.

Examining a candidate’s electronic communications is an excellent way of evaluating their communication skills, such as their ability to use jargon in a professional manner. It is important to note whether they have understood the core ideas being discussed and if their responses are thoughtful and considered. Additionally, it is essential to ensure that the correct names of companies and procedures are employed, rather than just being described. One method of determining if someone is communicating professionally is to examine the language they use.

2. They have no shame in turning to Google

Experienced developers are often seen as arrogant and overly focused on demonstrating their technical abilities, rather than ensuring their projects run smoothly and efficiently. Furthermore, some may take an unnecessarily complex approach to problem-solving, rather than seeking out simpler solutions. Despite this, it is worth noting that searching online for answers can often be a reliable source of information. There are a number of trustworthy forums, such as r/DotNet and StackOverflow, where developers can ask and answer each other’s questions.

In order to ascertain an interviewee’s problem-solving capabilities, it is beneficial to ask them about a difficult situation they have encountered in the past and the steps they took to resolve it. Additionally, enquiring about who or what they refer to for advice can provide a clear indication of their ability to be resourceful. Analysing the range of answers to these questions can provide a good indication of their problem-solving capabilities.

3. They have no problem speaking out when required

It is understandable that members of the team may feel uncomfortable drawing attention to any potential weak areas in the workflow, for fear of being perceived as accusing others. Furthermore, those who are employed remotely often maintain a more muted and respectful attitude when joining a new team, compared to if they were in the office. However, this can be to the detriment of the team, as a developer who is eager to improve the efficiency of a team’s software development should not be too reserved and polite.

By remaining silent, instead of stressing the importance of the notes or the impending issue, the difficulty could be resolved several days after it initially occurred. This issue becomes much more prominent when remote engineers are collaborating with a team in a different time zone. Ultimately, developers should not be shy about expressing their ideas and views. By doing so, they can make the most of their collective knowledge.

If you require testing of a vocal developer, it is important to deliberately introduce an error. Make sure to inform them of the issue and request their expert opinion on how to resolve it. Evaluate whether they are able to identify the mistake, and determine if they can rectify it or provide an alternative solution by asking for their input.

4. They have dialogue

At first consideration, it might seem that this merely echoes the third soft skill; however, it is not necessarily the case that those who are comfortable expressing their opinions are also adept at keeping others informed of progress.

It is undeniable that communication through Slack discussions and email can sometimes be inefficient, leading to the loss of important information. However, it is widely accepted that these methods are often the most practical way of keeping in touch between teams and remote developers. Such open lines of communication are invaluable, as they help to ensure that all parties are kept up to date with the progress of the project, as well as offering insights into parts of the development process that may not be immediately pertinent to them. This type of communication is not only indicative of dedication to the project, but also encourages better understanding between the team and the developer, and ultimately leads to improved teamwork.

5. They understand the factors that contributed to the success of their software

It is quite common to feel satisfied with the results of a project, even if the precise reasons behind its success are not fully understood. However, this does not mean that developers should not care about the work they do. In fact, it is essential for developers to ask questions such as ‘why?’ in order to gain a greater understanding of the project and how it works. Failing to do so demonstrates a lack of interest in the project and a reluctance to learn anything new. A developer who does not take the time to research and investigate the project is not doing their job to the best of their ability.

When a developer takes the time to analyse why a particular piece of technology has achieved success, they are in a better position to replicate or further improve upon the success in future. Without an inquisitive mindset to fully understand the intricacies of their duties and responsibilities, a candidate’s competence will be significantly lacking.

When reviewing the applicants’ past work, it is important to ask them what enabled them to be successful. It is also beneficial to inquire further into a few of these successes and invite them to demonstrate how they achieved them. This brief conversation can help to assess the candidate’s knowledge, their attention to detail and the commitment they have to their work.

Developers Working from Afar Should Have Strong Interpersonal Skills.

Recruitment success can be improved by focusing on applicants’ soft skills in addition to their qualifications and experience. However, in order to effectively evaluate these skills, recruiters must first be aware of which qualities to look out for during the screening process.

The majority of web resources that supply contact information for remote developers do not verify their authenticity prior to releasing it to employers. This exposes companies to a broader pool of potential candidates. To ensure you are able to hire reliable developers, it is advisable to select a service that carries out rigorous vetting of its developers before sharing their contact details with organisations looking to outsource development work.

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