How to Become an Outstanding Software Developer

Every software developer wants to excel in their career. They want to give their best to the profession, achieve their goals, and be recognized for their accomplishments.

Every software developer wants to excel in their career. They want to give their best to the profession, achieve their goals, and be recognized for their accomplishments.

However, excelling in a software career is not straightforward. It requires a lot of dedication, hard work, and determination. Often, programmers spend years focusing on their coding ability and fail to realize that they need much more than just programming skills to become outstanding developers.

So, what does it take to become an outstanding software developer?

Well, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The best way to become an outstanding software developer depends on your individual strengths and weaknesses. However, there are a few things that all exceptional developers have in common. If you can master these skills, you will be well on your way to becoming an outstanding software developer.

1. Gain expertise in one technology stack

Most outstanding software developers specialize in a particular technology stack. They become experts in one language, platform, or framework. It allows them to be highly proficient with their tools and makes them valuable assets to any team.

It's acceptable to play with various platforms during a developer's first couple of years on the job. Trying out different technologies at the beginning of the career helps a programmer find out what they like and their area of strength. However, as you get more experience, it is better to stick to one technology stack and understand it thoroughly.

The technological world is constantly evolving. Many technologies have arrived and departed in the last decade. Many of them were excellent, but something better replaced them quickly. Hence, to become an outstanding developer, don't fall into the trap of trend-driven development. You won't gain any expertise if you keep changing your learning curve based on what's popular in the job market.

2. Be comfortable working on other developers' code

If you want to be an excellent developer, you need to get comfortable working on anyone's code, as long as it is in a technology you understand. As a programmer, you cannot grow if you cannot read or understand code in an existing project.

I attribute most of my technical and functional expertise to fixing bugs and assisting others in resolving issues with their code.

It is not often that developers get a chance to develop an application from scratch. Even in that scenario, if you work in an enterprise setting, you will work with multiple developers in your team. That means you get to enhance or fix defects in code that is not written by you.

Understanding the product's features might be as simple as reading documentation or getting a technical knowledge transfer. However, fixing defects in existing code is a much more effective way of learning the application. That's the only way to gain first-hand experience of how the application behaves. Hence, proactively read others' code and fix defects in their implementations.

3. Constantly upgrade your skillset

In the software industry, technology keeps changing rapidly. What was considered state-of-the-art a few years ago is now outdated. To remain relevant in the industry and continue adding value to your company, you need to keep upgrading your skillset.

As an outstanding software developer, you should be aware of the technological trends and be ahead of them. You should be actively experimenting with the latest tools and technologies.

To achieve this, you need to embrace continuous learning. You can go through training to acquire new information about your technology stack. Many organizations provide free access to online education sites for their developers. Check whether your company has similar programs and sign up for them.

Conferences are also a fantastic method to keep up with the latest trends and where the industry is heading. Nowadays, a majority of conferences are taking place online. Individuals from many sectors exchange their knowledge and success stories in these events. Participate in such forums to keep up with the latest and greatest in the market.

4. Be a domain specialist

I've accomplished more in my sixteen years of software career due to my deep domain knowledge than I have through my technical skills.

As a software developer, you will work on projects in many different domains. For example, you might work on a project for the healthcare domain today and for the banking domain tomorrow. It is essential to have basic domain knowledge to understand the business requirements of the project.

However, it is even more beneficial to have in-depth knowledge of the domain in which you are working. It will help you stand out among your peers with similar technical expertise. When you understand the business requirements and problems, you can provide better solutions. You can also anticipate potential issues and suggest mitigation measures.

Having a thorough understanding of your company's domain will also help you grow as an architect if that's what you aspire to become one day. Your technical expertise combined with functional knowledge of the domain will propel your software career to a level where you can achieve most of your career goals as a software engineer.

5. Use your knowledge to help others

Outstanding software developers are knowledgeable and generous in sharing their knowledge with others. They understand that the act of sharing knowledge helps them learn better and grow further in their career.

I am a strong advocate of the knowledge-sharing process. I make it a goal to complete at least 25 hours of KT sessions each year. And these sessions help me learn even more through active discussions among the participants.

As a developer, you will have many opportunities to share your knowledge. You can mentor junior developers, write blog posts or articles, give presentations, etc. By helping others learn, you will also reinforce your understanding of the concepts.

Simultaneously, Knowledge sharing is a crucial component of successful collaborative efforts. Your leaders will recognize you as someone who knows a lot, is willing to share it, and has the ability to teach. Such perception among your leaders will bring many new opportunities for you to grow in your career.

6. Learn how to handle feedback

Many programmers see feedback as pointing fault in them. They get defensive and do not take any corrective actions. They might also harbor feelings of resentment and anger. Such behaviors are counterproductive and can damage the relationship with the person providing feedback.

On the other hand, outstanding software developers know how to handle feedback and view it as essential for their growth. They know feedback can help them identify their strengths and weaknesses. They view others' input as an opportunity to learn and improve.

When you work on a project, you will get feedback from your team members, customers, or other stakeholders. Each with their own specialties and skills, this group represents a wealth of knowledge and expertise. They can assist you in determining where you need to improve and how to grow in your role.

However, not all feedback is beneficial. Some of them might be inaccurate or irrelevant. It is essential to sift through the feedback and identify the valuable bits that can help you improve as a developer. In any case, do not take feedback personally. To be an outstanding developer, you need to assess each feedback and act only on the ones that will help you become a better software engineer.

7. Focus on providing solutions

One of the distinguishing characteristics of an outstanding software developer is their ability to provide solutions. They are not just coders who churn out lines of code but also thinkers who can see the big picture.

While working on a project, you will encounter problems that need to be solved. As a developer, it is your responsibility to provide efficient and effective solutions. The first step is to identify the problem. Once you have done that, you need to develop a plan to solve it.

To be an outstanding developer, you need to be proactive in finding solutions. Do not wait for someone to tell you what to do. Take the initiative and come up with your own ways to resolve challenges. It will impress your leaders and help you grow in your career.

8. Build your professional network

Developers often ignore networking as a means of growth in their initial years. However, it is highly required to make connections throughout your career. As a developer, you will need help and guidance from others in your field. A strong network can provide you with both guidance and growth opportunities.

To build your professional network, you need to attend industry events and meetups. Participate in conferences and interact with other developers there. You can also join online communities and forums. By networking with other professionals, you will gain valuable insights and make connections that can help you in your career.

Your network can also help you get the required visibility within the company, which is a significant factor in professional growth.

Many individuals I've worked with have become managers or architects in their teams. As I have maintained a good rapport with them, it is now convenient for me to get their support in resolving integration issues or arriving at enterprise-wide solutions without much friction.

Hence, start forming meaningful connections if you want extraordinary growth and be recognized as an outstanding developer.

Take Away

It's not unusual to hear that many people want to be good at software development, but few know what it takes to succeed.

Becoming an outstanding developer is a process that takes time and effort, but it's definitely achievable if you put your mind to it. The tips mentioned above will help you get started on the right track, but don't forget to keep learning and expanding your skillset.

I hope you find these tips helpful and can't wait to see what amazing things you achieve as an outstanding software developer.

By Lokajit Tikayatray

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