Top Skills for Software Developer

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 6, 2022

Published June 21, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Companies need software developers to design computer software and applications to meet their needs. Hiring managers look for software developers that can fit into the workplace and work efficiently. You need to include software developer skills on your resume to show that you're a good fit for the job. In this article, we explore what software development is and what a software developer or software engineer does with examples of key technical and soft skills to succeed in this role.

What is software development?

Software development, otherwise known as software engineering, is a technical computing profession. It involves building and developing application software and computer software for the benefit of end-users. Software development spans a diverse array of specific industries and objectives.

What is a software developer?

A software developer is someone with considerable professional knowledge of software engineering, programming languages, and operating systems. For example, they can build customized systems to meet client needs. They need expertise in applying engineering principles to the development of software as a software engineer.

Example of technical skills for software developer

Technical skills for software developers involve several hard skills needed to deliver on tasks. They're specific to the role, and you gain them through specialized training and education. Here are some examples of technical skills for software developers:

Programming language

Programming language involves expression or vocabulary that a computer can understand and process. Programming language is the tool that every software developer uses to communicate with the computer, so you must have an extensive understanding.

You should ensure you understand the popular programming language so you can increase your efficiency. For instance, you might find Python to be more effective than C++ in some cases. Examples of programming languages you can learn are:

  • SQL

  • Ruby

  • Java

  • Python

  • C#

  • HTML

  • JavaScript

  • C++

  • PHP

Related: Commonly Asked C++ Interview Questions with Sample Answers


Coding involves writing a script or command using a programming language to create functional tools and programs. Coding is the backbone of the new age of digitization, as it ensures the functionality of our smartphones, webpages, computers, calculators, and other technological innovations.

As a result, companies always look out for software developers that can write error-free codes to meet client needs. So, ensure you can write optimized and functional codes while understanding tools like a text editor that aids coding.


A database refers to an organized collection and storage of data. Companies rely on data to achieve their business goals, so you must be proficient in handling data. You should know how to create data, insert, delete, or update it, and be familiar with basic concepts such as table design and normalization.

To achieve this, you will need to be proficient in SQL, which stands for structured query language. It's a programming language that enhances communication between a programmer and a database. Many successful software developers are proficient in one or more of Oracle, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, Redis, and Cassandra.

Integrated development environment (IDEs)

IDEs ensure you can write, update, compile, run, and debug your codes where necessary. Therefore, you need to understand how to use IDEs to optimize your work and improve performance.

For developers who prefer C, C++, and C#, opt for Code::Blocks or Visual Studio as your IDE. You might opt for PyCharm, Jupyter notebook, or Spyder if you use Python. Then, for Java developers, NetBeans, IntelliJ IDEA, and Eclipse are your best options.

Cloud computing skills

Companies now require cloud computing skills to save cost, improve security, and minimizes storage size through cloud storage. Cloud engineers use various tools to migrate a company's data, manage, and process data using cloud services. This skill is also relevant to other skills like data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

Data structure and algorithms

Data structure and algorithms are very crucial to writing any practical application. You are a valuable software engineer if you can organize data, and apply it to proffering real-life solutions.

Operating system

Employers appreciate candidates with considerable knowledge of the basics and mechanisms of operating systems. It ensures you can solve issues such as slow programs, memory issues, blocking, and conflicting tools. You can then create functional tools that meet client needs in record time.

Version control

Also referred to as source control, it uses systems to manage changes in documents, computer programs, large websites, and other gathered information. It ensures software developers can manage and store their code effectively while facilitating collaboration with other developers. To use this, become familiar with tools like subversion, ClearCase, Mercurial, or Git.


Data security is extremely important to companies and end-users today. So, hiring managers prefer software developers with skills in encryption to ensure the protection of sensitive information. You must understand encryption algorithms, authentication, and cryptography as tools to secure your products or software.

Spreadsheet software

Organization skills are a vital tool that companies look out for in candidates. Your knowledge of spreadsheet software will help you display excellent organization skills. You can use this tool to track your progress, analyze data, plan projects, perform quality assessments, and maintain data. You can improve your skills by taking courses online and practicing regularly.

Related: Computer Literacy in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

Example of soft skills for software developer

Below are some of the soft skills employers strongly lookout for in software developers and engineers:


Multitasking involves the process of executing multiple tasks at once. For example, while working on a project, you can get another software issue requiring your attention. Companies lookout for candidates who can respond to these situations and deliver results. So you must be able to multitask.

You will usually need to combine other soft skills, such as working well under pressure, time management, communication, and organizational skills when multitasking.

Strong problem-solving skills

Strong problem-solving skills refer to the ability to provide a solution to a particular problem. Companies understand that difficulties during the task are common, so they need developers that can solve them. As a software developer, you must assess situations, identify problems, and take action to resolve them. You will need to have other soft skills such as critical thinking, analytical thinking, and decision making.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Strong interpersonal skills

Strong interpersonal skills are crucial to solving problems and connecting with colleagues at work or fellow professionals in other workplaces. Companies need software developers that can work in a team, and having strong interpersonal proves to the hiring manager you can. You must possess strong communication skills, active listening skills, empathy, flexibility, teamwork, and motivate others. Employers also find leadership qualities valuable regardless of your role.

Attention to details

An expert software developer must always pay very close attention to details. You need this to understand client and company needs, and how best to meet them. Your observatory skills will help you identify problems before they get out of hand. Your analytical skills are also relevant to maximizing attention to detail.

Other software developer skills

Other software development skills can impress your hiring manager. These skills show your wealth of knowledge and range with handling many tools, which increases efficiency and productivity. Here are some skills for software developers to highlight in your resume or cover letter:

  • Design

  • Linux/Unix

  • Database architecture

  • Optimization

  • Product enhancement

  • Excellent research skills

  • Version repository

  • Experienced use of UI toolkits

  • Troubleshooting and debugging

Highlighting your software developer skills

You can feature your software developer skills in your resume and cover letter when applying for a position. When doing this, ensure you research the organization and understand specific details of the role. This is to ensure you can tailor your “Skills” section to reflect what your employer wants. For instance, your hiring manager might prefer a particular programming language for the role, and you must highlight it to stand out.

You should also use your employment section to showcase cases of when you exhibited those skills in the past. This instills confidence in your hiring manager you're a good fit for the role.

Example: “Optimized Python usage to debug platforms, troubleshoot errors, and customize functions.”

Related: How to Improve Your Skill Set and Keep Skills Current

Improving your software development skills

Here are some ways to improve your software developer skills and increase your employability:

  • Attend workshops and take training. Consider attending training and workshops that help you develop your technical skills. You can opt for either paid or free options.

  • Get a mentor. You can find someone with more experience and expertise in software development to mentor you. They will offer you insight into things to do to improve yourself and have a successful career.

  • Request constructive criticism. You must want to improve your skills by asking for criticism. This will help you identify areas you need to improve.

  • E**xpand your skill set.** You need to devote yourself to know more. Find new things you can learn about a skill and identify new skills in your industry. For instance, you can learn a new programming language as you develop your current preference.

  • Collaborate with others. Collaborate with your peers who are proficient in other skills, language, or development tools. You will learn from each other and pick up new skills.

Related: What to Expect from Software Engineer Interview Questions

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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