What are Senior Developer/Engineer Skill sets?

Previously we discussed the skill sets the “Web Developer” title.  Logically the next step would be “Senior Web Developer”.

Disclaimer: What I’m about to go into may not reflect your skill sets or knowledge  even if you have a “Senior Web Developer” title and conversely, you may possess all of these skills and have a “Web Developer” title. The reason I’m writing about this is because I’m aware of inconsistencies in the industry and I think we should all work to get on the same page. I’m not advocating that people get promoted or demoted based on these definitions. There are other factors that go into getting promoted which aren’t based specifically on skill sets.

senior |ˈsēnyər|

adjective

1 of a more advanced age: he is 20 years senior to Leonard.

US of or for students in the final year of college or high school.

• relating to or denoting competitors of above a certain age or of the highest status in a particular sport.

Being “Senior” is not exempt from relativity but I do think there are a few fundamental elements that make adding “Senior” to someone’s title a good idea.

TEAM AWARENESS

There are probably many other terms for this, but here’s what I mean.  As a Senior Web Developer you should be aware that you work on a team. Sounds more simple than it really is. You should be aware that learning how to work with your team takes time and a lot of attention. Everyone is different, everyone comes from different backgrounds and responds differently to all forms of communication. I think anyone with ‘Senior’ or ‘Manager’ in their title needs to pay close attention to the people they work with and remember the most effective ways to communicate with each one.

Acknowledging that everyone is human and has strings of good days and strings of bad days, so you have to be patient. Each person has a context.

That said, you should also be able to distinguish between an employee having a bad few days and a bad employee. Leadership needs help identifying these people and accurately evaluating them and that is something a ‘Senior XYZ’ should be able to do.

THE RIGHT WAY?

Not only knowing the difference between doing something the right way and the less right way, but also when to do it the right way and when to do it the less right way.  There are trade offs in development all the time. As much as we would like to do everything the “right way” all the time, it isn’t always possible when working with a team to get something launched.

I AM WRONG

Experienced people should be humble. They know where they came from and what it took to get to where they are now. They will have been wrong more times than one can count. They should be the first to admit it once they notice they’re wrong and also accept responsibility. Being wrong happens all the time, it’s how people learn in cutting edge fields, we’re pioneers a lot of the time and you’re bound to make mistakes when few people have traveled down the same path.

TECHNOLOGY

So I think this is important but not as important as the things above.  As a ‘Senior Web Developer’ you should know what’s currently going on in web development. That sounds like a given, but I’ve interviewed a lot of people that have enough time in the industry to be ‘Senior Web Developers’ but couldn’t answer simple questions about what’s current in the field. You should also be able to take a good guess at what’s a passing fad and solid technology that’s here to stay. This is very important when you’re picking technologies for new or current projects.

I would also assume that you have some deeper knowledge in how web technology works and what the web is built on. Networking, DNS, Sessions, Deployment strategies, testing are just a few areas I would expect a ‘Senior Web Developer’ to be comfortable talking about.

 CONCLUSION

Looking at senior job listings, the big difference I see in them versus non-senior is the amount of desired experience at the bottom. Non-senior positions usually ask for 1-2 years of experience and senior positions ask for 5+ years of experience. I think this is simply because they don’t know what they should be looking for. Having Senior in our title implies more than just knowing some technology and having worked in the industry for more than 5 years. It’s about people and adding value to the company not just through your self but through your team as well.

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What are Senior Developer/Engineer Skill sets?

Momentum Injections

Carrying momentum is difficult. I say this as I have not been successful in even beginning to create momentum in writing blog posts!  I’ve written for a blog religiously in the past and looking back, it took quite a lot of energy to pull that off.  At the time I was writing the most, I was excited, it was new to me and I was learning something every day. As time went on it became a chore to try and think of content to get out that day. I would be so happy when some random news broke that I could write about so I didn’t have to think up something of my own.

While I did learn a lot during that time, I don’t think I produced the best content I was capable of at the time.  I lost my momentum after I learned all I needed to about the tools I was using and it wasn’t shiny anymore.  I held off starting to write again unless I felt like I could do it better this time!  Even though I haven’t been writing, I’ve been doing a lot of the same things since I blogged last. In hindsight, I should have been able to write about what I’ve learned all the time over the last three years.

Lately I have been trying to increase my momentum in everything I set out to accomplish. Maybe a lot of you have asked yourselves, “Why can’t I finish anything I start?” or told yourselves, “I just don’t know how to get excited about this anymore”.  I did that…I did that a lot. I was extremely frustrated. I had a 100 ideas and not enough momentum to see them through. I decided to start doing something about it. Hopefully some of what I’ve learned might help you to create the next Facebook or Google! Here we go!

#1 Surround yourself with like minded people

“I’ve heard this before dude…” you might be saying. Sometimes this is hardest thing to do but I think it’s one of the most valuable momentum generators.  When I’m around people that are excited about their ideas, I get excited about my ideas and theirs! They get excited about your ideas to!  You can find meetups near by that could connect you with great people that have similar interests and could even mutually help work on projects.

Take the long shots! Try and reach out to those people that you might not think would respond. Heck, tweet at @RichardBranson or @ElonMusk for practice.

#2 Inject yourself daily with momentum

Find some material/content to read or listen to every day.

#3 Stay rooted

Don’t forget where you came from. I don’t mean Owosso(never heard of it?)!  Keep participating and practicing your passions. If it’s writing “silly node modules” (Thanks @StephenPlusPlus), writing music, writing fiction or making inventions in the garage, just make sure that you stay grounded and keep your passions alive.  Like anything, if you don’t use it, you lose it.  Besides, isn’t it one of those passions that made you begin to want to expand that interest and turn it into something bigger in the first place?

#4 Just Do It

Ultimately you need to just step out and start trying things, learning from them, failing, trying again, failing and then trying some more.  Be a sponge and don’t be afraid to approach those that have gone before us. Surround yourself with people and content that lead you in the direction that you want to go.

Feel free to email me (thomas.schultz@pointlessrants.com) about what you’re working on! I’d love to hear about it!

Momentum Injections