5 Signs You Need to Improve Your Coding Skills

Great developers have more than just coding skills to offer to an employer. They understand everything from business development to project management. They are self-sufficient and can work well with others. But most importantly, great developers write elegant and effectively tested codes.

The demand for developers is high; employment of software engineers is projected to grow 22 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. But this high demand shouldn’t allow for low expectation in the quality of hires.

Don’t get me wrong, as someone who can’t code, to me developers are sort of magicians. But like in any profession, sometimes you need to make sure that your skills are polished and that you are offering the best service to a company.

Tech.Co reached out to developers and educators to find out the clear signs a developer needs to improve their skills. There are five obvious signs that it’s time to brush up on your skills:

1. Your Code is Sloppy

Sloppy coding is used to describe a piece of code that isn’t very expandable or versatile. So if someone else tries to add or subtract something to the code, it breaks the whole thing. Poorly constructed code is usually easier upfront, but you end up paying much more in long-term costs when the code is unreliable, difficult to understand, and expensive to debug.

“Whenever a piece of code is written, certain design decisions must be made by the developer (the type of data structure to use, which algorithm to use for a task, API design, etc.). If a developer is not able to coherently defend the choices she made for the implementation then it is often a sign that the developer does not clearly understand something in the implementation. This is why code reviews (a process where another developer on the team goes through code and discusses it with the developer who wrote the code) are beneficial not only for code quality (reducing the number of bugs) but also for professional development, as it forces the developer to think about choices they are making during implementation as they know these must be defended later during code review,” said William Lyon, Software Engineer Datamaglia.

So spend extra time making sure that the code looks good.

2. You’re Afraid of Someone Else’s Code

You shouldn’t be intimated by other developers’ code. By feeling intimated, you send a message that you are insecure about your own skills. Collaboration is key to developing coding skills, so poke around other people’s code and figure out what it does. Open source projects can be a great way to start looking at code that you have not written as a developer.

“If it’s in open source library it means it has been tested and hardened by other people and likely has less bugs than if you were to write it from scratch. If you have a tendency to shy away from code you didn’t write, you’re not leaving your comfort zone and costing your employer money,” Gezim Hoxha, CTO of SynoTrip.

3. You’re Taking Too Long To Come Up With a Solution

If you’re struggling to build a code, you have to ask yourself why. Asking for help is okay, and with so many platforms for coders to share information, your best bet is to learn from others.

“If a developer is constantly taking significantly longer, this is an indication he or she may need more help. This, along with peer code reviews, help identify areas of weakness, and we can then offer targeted training and development by senior developers as needed,” Simon Slade of Doubledot Media.

4. You’re Not Interested in Learning New Languages

General knowledge of languages and systems are more important than specific knowledge of just one language. A good developer knows and is interested in learning different programming languages, especially if languages are constantly changing.

“Software development as an industry is constantly changing. Platforms rise and fall. If you find yourself using the same programming approaches and tools you’ve always used, you probably need to change things up. Go to a user group for your favorite language and learn about new techniques that you haven’t heard about. Keep up with the online software community through sites like Hacker News or the thousands of other programming blogs. Software development isn’t just a career – it’s a community as well. If you are not engaging with the software community, you’ll probably get left behind in your career,” Peter Kananen, Delivery Manager and Partner, Gaslight.

“Developers who continually master their skills are able to direct their own career path, by becoming a respected technical
architect, an empathetic and effective technical manager, or by gaining enough business acumen to be a successful entrepreneur,” Liza Daly, CTO of Safari.

5. You’re Not a Team Player

Communication that flows from the developer to their employers is critical for the relationship and growth of the company. A good developer knows how to explain technical concepts to the non-technical people.

“Professional software engineers need to immerse themselves in the actual business. When a developer receives the business requirements, there will often be details that are ambiguous or simply left out altogether. A mediocre programmer will simply produce what was stated, while an expert will understand the business and ask relevant questions to clarify all the details to ensure that the product will truly meet the business needs,” Jay Wengrow, founder of Anyone Can Learn To Code.

Being part of a team also means communicating your struggles and concerns.

“Most programmers have difficulty expressing the problem or their solution, either to other programmers or especially to manager/product design team. It is incredibly important for programmers to be able to translate our nerd jargon into laymen’s terms,” Adam Wulf of Loose Leaf.


Tech.Co wants to hear from you, how do you know it is time to polish your coding skills?


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Written by:
Camila has been heavily active in South Florida’s tech startup community, where she is a co-host of a local radio show called pFunkcast. Camila previously worked at Greenpeace International and the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in various communication roles. A proud Brazilian who spent most of he life in Peru, she is passionate about traveling and documentaries.
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