Build Your Consulting Skills as a Junior Developer

As a junior developer, it’s easy to get caught up in the technical aspects of your job. Every day it can seem like you’re learning a new term or technology, and the stress of trying to keep up can be overwhelming. Additionally, throughout college, technical skills are (rightfully) a high priority. It becomes easy to assume that all that matters when working as a software consultant are those technical skills.

However, as you might notice, the title is Software Consultant and Developer. Consulting is half of the job, and therefore communication and other soft skills deserve attention too. Over the past few months, I’ve worked on improving my consulting skills, so here are a few things I’ve taken away during this journey.

Important Consulting Skills

1. Collaboration

As a junior developer, you’ll likely be working as part of a team. Good collaboration skills are essential to ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget. You must be able to communicate effectively with your team members and work together toward a common goal.

2. Verbal Communication

Communication is an essential part of any job, but it’s especially important for developers. You need to be able to communicate technical information to non-technical team members and clients. Good communication skills will help you explain complex concepts in a way others can understand.

3. Written Communication

Similar to the verbal counterpart, written communication plays another key role. Writing pull requests, emails to the clients, and documentation for your project all are important skills.

4. Problem-solving

Developers are problem-solvers. Good problem-solving skills are essential for identifying and solving complex technical issues. However, problem-solving also involves being able to think critically, analyze information, and come up with creative solutions.

5. Adaptability

A software consultant must be adaptable to work in different environments, handle changing requirements, and learn new technologies quickly.

Effective Ways to Build Your Skills

1. Seek feedback.

Ask for feedback from your colleagues, managers, and clients. This can help you identify areas for improvement and focus your efforts on developing your soft skills.

2. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

Here’s an experiment: record yourself giving a speech and watch it afterward. For many including myself, this seems like a terrible time. However, it can be a great way to notice what you would like to improve such as body language, speaking pace, and parts of your speech lacking in detail. Another way to push yourself out of your comfort zone is to speak to a crowd of people in a safe environment. Holding a talk with some coworkers, for instance, can be a great opportunity to test your abilities. It may seem more comfortable to practice these skills by yourself, but true growth comes from pushing your boundaries.

3. Practice active listening.

Active listening involves paying attention to the speaker and trying to understand their perspective. This can help you communicate more effectively with your colleagues and clients.

4. Read books on soft skills.

Many books focus on developing soft skills, such as “Crucial Conversations” by Author and “Emotional Intelligence” by Author. These books often contain useful information and practices you can apply to your work.

5. Work with a coach.

Speaking from experience (shout out to Joe!), working directly with a coach can be a great benefit. A coach provides personalized feedback, holds you accountable to your goals, and creates practice opportunities in a safe and supportive environment. Additionally, a coach can offer a fresh perspective and tailor strategies to help you make efficient progress.

Ultimately, while technical skills are crucial for a junior developer, it’s essential not to overlook the importance of consulting skills. Collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and adaptability are all essential consulting skills that can help developers become successful software consultants. Developing these skills requires effort and practice, but seeking feedback, practicing active listening, reading books on soft skills, and working with a coach can all help in this process. By prioritizing these skills alongside technical skills, junior developers can become well-rounded software consultants who can effectively collaborate with colleagues and communicate with clients to deliver high-quality solutions.


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