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How to Jump From a Software Developer to a Senior Software Developer?

Senior Software Developer is among the top IT occupations out there. In fact, it represents a final stage of a developer’s ‘development’ (no pun intended). To become worthy of this position, however, not only do you need experience and a good share of knowledge on computer science, but you also need to wield some specific skills. Let’s talk about how to evolve from a mid-level dev (or, simply, developer, as they’re called) into a Senior specialist in detail. 

What It Means to Be a Senior Developer

So, who is a specialist worthy of the proud title of a Senior Developer? He/she is, basically, an IT expert that possesses in-depth expertise and holds one of the major positions in the company’s management system.

These specialists are usually responsible for the design and creation of project specifications, management of the less experienced developers’ workflow, as well as single-handed implementation of smaller projects (when there is an in-house need to accomplish something ‘fast and with good quality’). 

Seniors are capable of effortlessly dismantling strangers’ code without using any third-party info resources, single-handedly compose project documentation, plan architecture aspects for future projects, select optimal tools and algorithms for the implementation of projects, and efficiently put to practice extensive expertise in all the involved tools (both software and hardware) efficiently. 

High-level experts also, usually, serve as mentors for middle and junior developers (they coordinate task priorities for middles and direct juniors in the right ways in complex situations on top of everything else). In such cases, there aren’t too many mistakes and errors to monitor, as all code faults are indicated immediately upon the project compilation in the main framework. To fix them is another business, however.

Last but not least, Seniors should always ‘gaze into the core’ and be able to understand from a superficial glance over the tech reference by which subtasks a project can be optimally subdivided and via which tools all these tasks can be completed. 

Soft Skills That Make a Difference Between a Developer & Senior Developer

First off, a set of soft skills a Senior should have to fit the expert’s position as mentioned in most formal requirements:
  • smart, both logic- & abstract-prone mind;
  • an ability to optimally set priorities;
  • strong study capability;
  • a desire to be a team leader & take responsibility for common faults;
  • an ability to lead a productive dialogue with clients;
  • striving for constant self-learning.

Hard Skills of a Senior Developer

In turn, more practical – hard skills – may include the following:
  • higher technical education;
  • extensive working experience by the original specialization (at least three years);
  • voluminous portfolio;
  • an authentic piece of open-source code published on some open web resource;
  • expertise in at least a couple of programming languages;
  • working experience with various software tools;
  • understanding of & experience of working with modern technology trends.

Guide: Where to Start & How to Manage?

As a matter of fact, there is no universal way of becoming a top Senior Dev specialist – it all depends on your specialization and professional efforts. Nevertheless, we’ll try to highlight several common stages every other interested in becoming a part of the ‘seniority’ developer has to go through:

  • The perfection of tech skills in imperative & functional programming.

    The IT industry evolves ever faster with each passing year. Obviously, it is very difficult to try and cover all the profitable branches it offers. You cannot know and offer EVERYTHING related to programming and coding. That should be the ultimate goal, but no need to be fanatic about it. You still have to spend nights and bury yourself under manuals and info sources even after overtimes to be a truly good specialist. Your main task should be to stay up to date in terms of the latest trends related to your specialization and be able to employ common tendencies to your benefit. 

  • Desire to be a team leader.

    What does it mean to be a leader of the programmers’ team? The position definitely requires a person that goes about the main professional focus the best. And even that’s not enough. The leader must also have a certain authority over the rest of the members, be able to show how and what to do in the simplest of ways and, what’s important, take responsibility for the quality of team-implemented tasks (as a rule, Seniors are commonly assigned as team leads or tech leads);

  • Improvement of personal communication skills.

    A true Senior is an excellent interviewer. As you may know, the IT industry is among the most demand in terms of vacancy niches in many countries. Employers even go the extra mile and create special communities where they share recruiting and interviewing tips with each other. Your another major objective as a worthy Senior is to go around the template questions and test your potential employers in the field to really know what exactly you’re looking at; 

  • An ability to communicate with clients.

    It is a Senior’s common responsibility to clearly explain to clients what goes where in the technical part of the project. According to practice, not all developers by far possess constructive dialogue skills. Pay attention to your level of command in English and read literature recommended to all specialists that have to collaborate with clients. 

  • Contribution to the community of developers.

    Every other Senior specialist takes their profession as a calling. That’s why they strive to contribute to the community of devs specializing in a certain IT niche, be it artificial intelligence or blockchain. Such developers, usually, post online personally composed tutorials, educational articles, as well as full-blown projects (for that, there’s GitHub). 

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