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What Skills You Need to Be a Software Developer in 2021

Posted on 
August 23, 2021
|
by 
Isha Chakraborty

Software engineering has become one of the most sought-after jobs in the market due to its handsome remuneration benefits and the opportunity to solve high-level problems with big tech companies.

This has given way to fierce competition among software developers and engineers to land the most coveted jobs in technology at the largest tech companies of the world.

The question that most software developers are asking today is how to become a highly valued professional and how to up-level their career in software development.

This article talks about the top technical skills companies are looking for in software engineers and professionals that work with them.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Top 10 technical skills software developers must have in 2021
  • How to develop these skills
  • How to prepare for software developer job interviews
  • FAQs

Top 10 Technical Skills for Software Developers in 2021

Before we begin the list of key technical skills a software developers should have in 2021, we want you to know that each of these are learnable skills. No item on this list is out of reach for you if you are willing to put in the efforts to master them.

Now, onto the list.

1. Data Structures & Algorithms

Data Structures and Algorithms are two of the most non-negotiable technical skills most tech companies look for when hiring software developers. Because your efficiency in Data Structures and Algorithms is directly related to your problem-solving ability and coding skills. 

Software developers often fail to understand the importance of Data Structures and Algorithms in the early stages of their careers. But as you progress in your career, you’d realize how important it becomes when your code starts taking too much time or too much memory in the system.

Data Structures and Algorithms are also a crucial part of any software developer interview, so it’s important you continue upgrading your DS and Algorithm skills such as arrays, linked lists, and trees.

2. Cloud Computing

Companies, small and large, and from various domains are now moving toward cloud services as they provide cost-effective infrastructure with improved scalability and flexibility options. This means any company you work for, will eventually move to cloud if not already, and expect you to be able to work with cloud-based applications.
Being familiar with and having hands-on experience in any of the top cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform will give you a great edge over others, especially during interviews.

3. Git and GitHub

As a software developer, you need to know about version control tools like Git and SVN. Git and GitHub have streamlined the market to a great extent. Over 70% of the companies use Git. 

When learning Git, make sure you put some effort into understanding the advanced version control concepts such as branching and merging, as well as learning the command line and the GUI.

4. Containers (Docker and Kubernetes)

Docker and Kubernetes are some of the most important container tools every software developer is expected to know. Containers help developers test their applications in a unified environment but also make the deployment process easier. 

Docker and Kubernetes are two containers that’ll help you get the edge in any software developer interview since they are one of the most sought-after skills companies look for in 2021.

5. IDEs (VSCode or IntelliJIDEA)

Modern IDEs such as Visual Studio Code or Eclipse is a critical tool for any programmer. VS Code is a great option for any C/C++/C# programmer, whereas for Python developers, the Jupiter Notebook is a good choice.

6. Database and SQL

Due to the popularity of the database, it’s expected from every programmer that you’re familiar with essential database concepts like normalization and table design along with SQL. 

You may choose to learn any one of the popular databases such as Oracle, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, or PostgreSQL. It’s the familiarity that matters. You should be able to perform functions like insert/update/delete data and write SQL codes to retrieve it.

7. Linux (UNIX)

Most software developers nowadays work on UNIX systems. Therefore, understanding the Linux command line goes a long way in helping you work efficiently. You can perform basic tasks and know what’s going on with the system by checking its CPU or memory usage.

8. Object-Oriented Programming

As a software developer, you need to know at least one of the following programming languages —  C, C++, C#, Java, Python, or JavaScript. The easiest to learn, however, is the Java programming language.

Related read: We had written a post about the popular programming languages to learn for FAANG interviews. Do read it if you are not sure about which programming language you should learn and master.

9. Computer Networks

Any software application you develop will never be standalone. They will be interconnected via computer networks. This makes understanding computer networks important to develop and support your application.

10. Scripting

Scripting languages make it easier to create tools and scripts to solve frequently occurring programming problems. 

If you have a good grasp of scripting languages such as Python, you can easily automate the most mundane tasks. Python is also one of the languages that you can use for both OOP coding and scripting. This is a classic example of killing two birds with one stone.

How to Gain Technical Skills as a Software Developer?

There are many free and paid programs on the internet you can use to learn the skills mentioned above. Here are some of the popular platforms and top technical courses offered by them.

  • Coursera: Big Data, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Data Science
  • Pluralsight: Software development
  • Udacity: Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, Data Science, Programming and Development
  • Cloud Academy: Cloud Computing
  • DataCamp: Data Science
  • Lynda: Software development, Web development
  • Code Academy: Python, JavaScript, Data Science, Game development, Mobile development
  • edX: Data Structures, Java, Python, Game development, App development, Data Science

In addition, if you are serious about landing jobs at any of the tech behemoths of the world such as FAANG, you can enroll yourself in a good coding bootcamp such as the one that’s offered by Interview Kickstart. 

Our comprehensive interview prep program has over 95% success rate and is considered to be of the gold standard by our alumni, majority of whom have landed multiple job offers from their dream tech companies.

To know more about how to crack the challenging interviews at FAANG and other tier one companies, we invite you to register for this free webinar called How to nail your next technical interview, hosted by one of our co-Founders where you can get your queries and doubts cleared about interviews at FAANG.

Top 5 Behavioral Skills That High Performing Software Developers Should Have

Every tech company looks at two categories of skillset before hiring a software engineer or a developer — Technical as well as Behavioral skills.

In the entry-level roles, behavioral interviews don’t carry a lot of weightage as compared to senior level positions as young engineers lack enough work experience to substantiate those skills. However, that doesn’t mean fresh grads are not tested on their behavioral skills. 

Every selection process will have some way of gauging the behavioral aspects or personality of candidates. Some companies do this through dedicated behavioral interview rounds, while some blend behavioral questions with technical rounds of interviews.

So, what are the top behavioral skills that employers look for in software engineers and why they matter?

1. Effective Interpersonal and Communication Skills

The importance of communication and interpersonal relations in professional life cannot be emphasized enough. Whether the role requires you to work in a team, as an individual contributor, technical lead, manager, or a director, your ability to communicate will help you navigate all kinds of high-pressure, tricky, and challenging situations.

This skill holds more significance if your current or future role would require you to interact with clients and other external parties of the company.

So, being able to communicate effectively and having strong interpersonal relations with your colleagues will help you go a long way, not just in interviews but in your professional and personal lives as well!

2. Analytical Skills

Being a software developer demands that you have a diverse range of perspectives. You have to understand and meet the expectations and requirements of clients and users, which requires you to look at the solution you develop through multiple lens analytically.

Analytical skills also help software engineers determine the best tools, technologies, system and design configurations to be used in products to attain optimal performance and efficiency.

3. Problem Solving

At the heart of every project a software engineer works on, is a problem that they are trying to solve. In doing so, they have to solve several smaller but important problems and come up with effective solutions for each one of them.

Problem solving, is therefore, one of the most essential skills that a software engineer must possess and develop, when building their careers.

4. Creativity and Innovation

Developing ideas for new software, designing new capabilities in software and systems, and devising new features are some of the tasks software engineers performs repeatedly in their careers. Thinking innovatively all the time is a challenge, but those of you who uses creativity and innovation in your tasks and projects will experience accelerated career growth as it’ll give you a superb edge over your peers.

Therefore, constantly find ways to infuse creativity and innovation in every project you are working on. With time, it will grow into a habit and become your strongest skill. 

5. Ownership

Software engineers and developers that take complete ownership of their tasks are easily identifiable in organizations. Interviewers will look for instances of this in your past professional experience as it will tell them if you can work independently and still manage to deliver excellent results.

Ownership is a close cousin of leadership, which means if you demonstrate this skill, you have higher chances of being promoted to leadership positions.

So, these were the top behavioral skills that software developers should possess.

Now, if you are reading this post, chances are you’d be interested in working as a software developer in world’s biggest tech firms. And now that you know about the technical skills required to become a great software developer, let’s help you get a few steps closer to your goal of landing a job as one. 

How to Prepare for a Software Developer Interview

Here, we list down 4 key points to help you crack technical interviews at FAANG and tier one technology companies.

1. Prepare for the most commonly asked interview questions

In a typical software developer interview, you can expect to be asked questions about the programming languages you know, your ability to solve coding problems efficiently, and questions around your previous projects and work experience.

Related read: Let’s help you get started with this. Here are two articles that list down the most commonly asked technical and behavioral interview questions for software engineering and developer roles at FAANG and other tier one tech companies.

2. Practice a lot of coding problems

Technical interviews for software engineering roles are also commonly called coding interviews, which speaks how significant coding skills are in the context of these interviews.

Now, there’s only one way to get better at coding — Practice. There’s really no substitute to this.

Practice as many coding problems you can. You’ll notice that you get better at solving more and more difficult problems over a period of time. This will increase your confidence and help you identify hidden patterns in problems and solutions, which will bring down your problem solving time.

Another great tip we’d like to share is to articulate your approach and steps of problem solving as many technical interviewers ask the candidates to explain how they arrived at a particular solution. When doing so, your description should be structured, well thought out, and concise.

3. Ask meaningful questions

In most job interviews, the interviewer asks questions and the candidate answers. 

However, in great job interviews, both sides ask almost the same number of questions as both parties try to decide if they are good fit for each other. Most of us ignore the fact that candidates also have the power to decide whether or not they’d like to work in the company, and the way to do that is through asking relevant questions about the things that matter to them during the interviews.

Get all your doubts cleared about the company, position, next steps in the selection process, company goals, active and future projects, and so on. 

Likewise, when presented with a problem statement, do not shy away from asking questions and get clarity before you proceed to solve the problem. Even if you’ve understood the problem at hand, a great strategy that we often recommend to our students is to verbalize the problem in your own words and get a nod from the interviewers. Do this even if you’re making assumptions about the problem statement in case you’re not sure if you’ve understood it completely.

After gaining this reassurance from the interviewers, you may begin solving the problem.

This will demonstrate your skills of clear communication, strategic thinking, and how you eliminate ambiguities and future problems that could arise from them.

4. The 3 things interviewers look for in your code

When writing a code, remember that the interviewers look for the following 3 things in your code:

Does it run fast? 

Does it take up less memory?

Is it stable?

If you’re able to tick off all these boxes with your code, you’ll be ahead of most of the competition. Keep this in mind when practicing and solving coding problems.

FAQs About Software Engineering

Lastly, let’s leave you with a few most asked questions related to software engineering.

1. How much can I earn as a software developer in 2021?

The average salary you can earn as a software developer in the US is around $100-$110K/year.

While it may seem like a daunting task to clear the software developer interview, it doesn’t have to be that way. You may check out our blog where we publishing articles to help you with your interview preparation at FAANG and other top companies.

2. What responsibilities does a software engineering job entail?
This is an important question, the answer to which you should know before you set out to designing a successful career for yourself in software engineering.

We dissect the software engineering roles and responsibilities at length in this article and urge you to take a look at it to fully understand what’s expected of you as a software professional in any of the leading tech companies of the world.

3. Can I create a career in software development if I don’t have the educational qualification for it?

Well, most software engineering roles require you to have a Computer Science or a technical degree related to the role. However, there are multiple instances where FAANG and other companies have hired candidates based on their skills, work experience, and domain knowledge even when they did not have a CS degree.

Therefore, there’s no reason why you cannot be a software professional without a degree in Computer Science. If you have the right technical foundation and hands-on experience, any big company including FAANG will be more than happy to interview you.

Read How to Become a Software Engineer Without a CS Degree for more details.

Are You Cut Out to Be a Software Developer?

The intention of this article is to acquaint you with different skills that software developers should have so they can catapult their careers to the next level.

If you’re seeking professional help to upgrade your software engineering skills or to crack interviews at FAANG, enrolling for Interview Kickstart’s interview prep programs might be a great idea. 

To know more about this, do register for our free webinar as we mentioned before. The webinar will be hosted by one of our founders who will discuss the best strategies and plan for technical interview prep and how IK can help you with the right tools and resources to nail these interviews. You can register for the webinar here.

Attend our Free Webinar on How to Nail Your Next Technical Interview

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