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Can you think of a time when you worked with someone that was a rock star at their job? What made them so fun to work with? Was it the smile they brought to work everyday? Was it their in-depth knowledge of their job? Was it their ability to always have a solution to a problem? Was it their ability to communicate with anyone in the company? Oftentimes, the best coworkers are the ones that build their peers up and are open minded. Those types of employees are the ones that managers consistently choose when it comes time for promotions or a higher level position within the company. Here are some of the things that the best Back-End Developers do that set them apart from their colleagues.
1. High performance
When I asked various CIOs and CTOs in both fortune 500 companies and medium size organizations, “what makes a back-end developer stands out” one of the most common replies I get is their ability to write high quality code.
But what exactly is “high quality code?” When current CIOs and CTOs elaborate on this topic they mostly talk about 4 main aspects:
- Code that is easy to read
- Code that has good documentation so your teammates do not have to always come to talk to you asking questions
- Quick completion of story cards while maintaining high quality
- Minimal refactoring
Your performance ability to write high quality code as a back-end developer is one best way to set yourself apart from your colleagues and other developers. But, how can you start to improve your code writing?
From talking with back-end developers over the past 30 years, having a mentor or a more experienced developer that can teach you and give you tips is one of the best ways to increase your performance.
2. Have a diverse skill set
Great developers have a broad and diverse technology “tool kit”. They have worked with a handful of technologies long enough to the point of becoming experts while becoming competent in many others. For example, at home you might not need a socket wrench often, but in the off chance that something comes up it is wonderful to have access to. The same applies for software development every once in a while a problem will arise or a project will come up that needs someone with a broad skill set will be the one to jump up and save the day. Having a diverse and deep skill set also helps some to arrive at optimal solutions quickly and effectively. When I work with a particular VP of software development at a Fortune 500 company in Cleveland, they always end up choosing back-end developers that have experience or technical knowledge of unique and utilized tools. He does not want all of his developers to have the exact same skill background. His reasoning for this is that it helps their organization to be flexible and innovative when confronted with any problem that might come their way.
3. Think about the big picture
When talking to CIOs for a mid-size tech company in the Cleveland Ohio area they stated that a back-end developer’s ability to understand the big picture in the overall IT system is a skill few developers contain but elevates you above your peers. This is because having an understanding of the larger IT system permeates throughout their code and their other work.
But what does “understanding the big picture in the IT system” really mean? When talking with various VPs of technologies they often describe a developer with a big picture mindset as someone who doesn’t just write the code that is assigned to them. They take it to the next level by thinking about the overall impact on the IT system and even think about how it will impact the overall user experience. They also give advice and tips to make changes to the code or overall project to help build a highly effective IT system.
Other key skills of a big picture back-end developer is the ability to stick within the framework when writing code. The reason behind this is that oftentimes if you write outside the framework a developer will then have to upgrade the code that you wrote outside the framework. Which is often time consuming.
4. Be a business minded developer
The best employees in any department, especially IT, are the ones that think big picture. One way to do that as a Back-End Developer is to be aligned with the company’s growth strategy and constantly be thinking about what IT solutions are out there that will help the company get to where it’s headed.
A manager at a global fortune 500 company has stressed to me that the IT professionals that get chosen for promotions are the ones that have the ability to understand where the company is heading and offer technology options and solutions that keeps the business moving forward. They look for someone that is doing their technical duties exceptionally, but is also creative and looking for better ways to run the business. Business and work is more collaborative than ever before and the ability to align technology solutions to the business goals helps employees stand out above the rest.
5. Little things go a long way
As I just said above, work is more collaborative and interdepartmental than ever before. That is why it is essential to have well developed soft skills. Little things go a long way when it comes to impressing your coworkers and your boss. Hiring managers want people that can show empathy and understanding towards their colleagues. Not everyone is on their A-game at work 24/7, humans are humans and make mistakes. But, if you are someone that can be the one to immediately be there to offer an extra helping hand with a calm, understanding demeanor, your coworkers will love working with you and you’re well on your way to building a great working reputation. They will see you as the one that is always there to help. What I have seen in 30 years of being in the IT recruiting industry is you can get everything you want in life, if you just help enough people get what they want in theirs.
Be the best!
Time and time again in my career, I have seen that the candidates that hiring managers desire most are those that show empathy and compassion towards their peers, think broadly about how their work fits into the business goals, and those that help their colleagues work more efficiently. These traits make the IT department and company operate more smoothly.
If you consider yourself open minded and want to learn about exciting and exclusive opportunities, we are currently working in the software development space, please reach out to me! I want to help you succeed in any way I can.