17 Software Engineering Skills Every Candidate Should Possess

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Bruna Vasconcelos
Bruna Vasconcelos
Head of People

Table of Contents

The ideal candidate for a software engineering role is one with the right technical and soft skills. This article highlights some of the key skills and expertise HR professionals should consider during the hiring process.
Published on
June 14, 2024
Updated on
June 14, 2024

Having dedicated software engineers on board isn’t unique to large tech companies anymore. Anyone from healthcare, retail, or finance could benefit from having a small team of software engineers to help manage their applications and in-house software operations. However, some skills needed to be a software engineer aren't always obvious to recruiters.

While technical skills such as UX design and proficiency in computer programming languages are essential for qualified software engineers, they must also have reliable soft skills. HR and recruiting professionals are crucial in identifying talent-sourcing strategies that meet technical demands and align with the company's culture and values.

This article will discuss the core technical and soft skills recruiters should consider for efficient tech hiring, as well as common tech recruitment challenges and how to avoid them.

Software Engineer Technical Skills

When hiring for software engineering roles, hiring managers likely have hundreds if not thousands of resumes, personal portfolios, and LinkedIn profiles to review. Identifying the key software engineer skills required for the role can mean the difference between a bad hire and a valuable asset to the team.

It’s important to have a thorough understanding of the individual skills managers are seeking rather than simply checking them off a list. Through technical screenings, recruiters can gauge whether candidates possess the required skills or if they should keep them in the talent pipeline for a future role. 

Understanding these skills also leads to crafting precise job descriptions, developing metrics to evaluate a candidate's fit, and determining how they could contribute to the characteristics of a high-performing team.

1. Proficiency in Programming Languages

A software engineer must be proficient in one or more programming languages. These languages should depend on what’s currently used in their organization’s infrastructure and software. Skill verification can be done through traditional university degrees, third-party certifications from Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, or a reputable coding boot camp that the developer completed.

It's typical to find a few years of experience with languages such as Python, Ruby, Java, JavaScript, C++, SQL, HTML/CSS, and React on a candidate’s resume. However, it's important to take notice of how they’re able to use the language. For instance, Python skills used in developing software applications aren’t the same as the ones used in data science. A candidate's ability to adeptly use coding languages should be the main factor determining their capacity to contribute to their team.

2. Data Structures and Algorithms

Enterprise software and applications require data to work—that’s why knowledge of data structures and algorithms is an essential component that differentiates strong programmers from potential mis-hires.

Being familiar with different data structures such as arrays, trees, linked lists, and graphs is key to developing software that incorporates data into its primary functions. A proficient programmer can design for big data from the ground up, resulting in efficient and scalable code capable of handling an influx of data.

3. Testing and Debugging

Software testing and debugging are indispensable components of the application development lifecycle. Since no block of code is likely to be perfect on the first attempt, a software engineer should be well-versed in examining their work for bugs and inefficiencies before rolling out software patches.

This is important because it’s often incredibly difficult to debug someone else’s code, so programmers must be able to perform unit testing and clean up their own code rather than relying on someone else in the team for this particular task.

4. DevOps Practices

While not a particular tool, DevOps is a methodology and skill set that developers use in their software engineering process. It’s a practice that needs to be applied to the whole organization rather than the developer alone.

DevOps enables engineers to develop software much faster and more efficiently than traditional approaches. Principles such as automation, continuous integration, and continuous deployment combine for a more streamlined software development journey.

5. Containerization and Orchestration

Knowledge of application containerization enables engineers to be more efficient in their use of resources when developing software. Containerization gathers all the necessary components for an app to run in one place. Examples include Kubernetes and Docker, some of the most powerful systems for automating software deployment and orchestration.

A solid grasp of these technologies indicates that a software engineer builds scalable and resilient applications.

6. Security Best Practices

Security isn’t an additional element of software but a part of its functionality. Regardless of the type of developer being hired, all technical employees must keep cybersecurity at the forefront of their work when developing software to implement the appropriate measures and safeguard user data.

This includes a thorough understanding of authentication and authorization mechanisms and the ability to use encryption and input validation. Security-conscious engineers help prevent data breaches. They’re also more likely to follow secure coding practices, which is a proactive step toward building user trust.

7. Performance Optimization

It’s not enough for a software engineer to develop an app that simply works; it must also be resource-efficient. Performance optimization results in applications that consume fewer digital resources, allowing them to be easily used on more lightweight devices such as laptops and tablets. It’s important to closely track software engineering KPIs (key performance indicators) to fully understand a team’s efficiency and performance.

Engineers with this skill write optimized code, implement effective caching strategies, and manage resources in a way that boosts application performance. This optimization enhances the user experience and significantly reduces operating costs by streamlining resource utilization.

8. APIs and Web Services

Application programming interfaces, also known as APIs, connect different software components, allowing them to communicate and exchange data in real-time using a set of predefined protocols. Understanding web applications and web development goes hand in hand with APIs because they often act as the web-based interface through which APIs are accessed.

Experience designing, developing, and consuming APIs is necessary for a software engineer to create interoperable software systems.

9. Microservices Architecture

In a microservices architecture, applications are developed as a collection of multiple services rather than a single entity. This style of architecture involves developing independent services that can be deployed and updated independently of one another.

Understanding the principles of microservices architecture enables software engineers to build systems that are much more adaptable to industry changes and market demands. It also demonstrates an engineer’s capacity for strategic and flexible thinking regarding application design and scalability.

10. Object-Oriented Programming

Object-oriented programming (OOP) is a set of programming principles in which data and code are segmented into fields and treated as individual objects. That way, individual objects can interact with one another while being fully functional on their own.

An engineer proficient in object-oriented design is better equipped to contribute to complex projects and can significantly reduce the maintenance burden over the software's lifecycle.

11. Other Technical Skills

Beyond the fundamentals, some skills may not be essential for a given project but make a candidate stand out. These skill areas include:

  • Software frameworks
  • Agile methodology
  • Linux and Android operating systems
  • Open-source projects using Git
  • Machine learning projects
  • Git version control
  • Scrum methodology

While a computer science degree or project management experience may not be required, managers often seek candidates with proven track records of contributing to solutions and maintaining a steady rise throughout their software engineering career path.

Software Engineer Soft Skills

While technical skills are essential, recruiters shouldn’t overlook the need for soft skills when competency mapping for an engineering role. These skills help bridge the communication and collaboration gaps between team members. Typically, strong soft skills on an engineering team are key indicators that the organization can foster growth in long-term talent development strategies.

12. Attention to Detail

In any coding-based project, details can be the difference between success and failure. Writing clean, maintainable code requires a meticulous eye, as even the smallest oversight can lead to significant errors or bugs.

An engineer's attention to detail is also essential when debugging. This skill ensures that the software programs not only function correctly but also meet quality standards. This skill indicates an individual who values quality and precision in their work.

13. Continuous Learning

The tech industry, in particular, is highly dynamic, with new tools, technologies, and methodologies constantly being introduced. An engineer’s willingness to continually learn and evolve is vital for staying relevant and effective in their role while deterring the growth of skill gaps over time.

Furthermore, continuous learning also reflects an individual's drive for professional growth and commitment to delivering cutting-edge solutions. That’s why engineers who are forever students help their organizations stay ahead of the curve and maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

14. Communication

The average software engineer doesn't work in isolation but with a team of other back-end and front-end developers. The ability to articulate complex technical concepts clearly and concisely is crucial for maintaining a cooperative team structure.

Additionally, an engineer with strong communication skills may act as a bridge between technical and non-technical stakeholders, facilitating a shared understanding and assurance that projects move forward smoothly.

15. Problem-Solving

Developing software is rarely a linear process. Instead, it’s often a series of challenges that developers must overcome. That’s why strong problem-solving capabilities enable engineers to dissect issues and identify the root causes to develop effective solutions.

Engineers who are adept at problem-solving are invaluable when it comes to innovation and driving projects to successful completion.

16. Adaptability

In the tech industry, change is constant; requirements evolve, and deadlines shift. Having an adaptable engineer who can easily navigate these changes can help companies overcome disruptive technologies and achieve digital acceleration initiatives.

17. Teamwork

In companies, no software engineer works in isolation. Collaboration and teamwork are critical factors for a successful software development project. However, teamwork usually involves more than just working alongside others. Developers need to be able to share knowledge and provide firsthand support and guidance to struggling colleagues to keep the project going.

Teamwork is about putting the team's success above individual accolades and fostering a collaborative, inclusive software engineering environment. This skill usually arises from years of experience working with other developers.

Hire Skilled Software Engineers With Revelo

Navigating the complexities of hiring software engineers can be complex, but Revelo can help. Revelo helps match US-based businesses with expert software engineers based in Latin America to fill the gap in their tech teams.

Our time zone-aligned developers are all pre-vetted for technical skills, soft skills, and English language proficiency. After hiring, Revelo assists and augments your HR team through ongoing administrative tasks such as payroll, benefits administration, taxes, and local compliance.

Contact us to hire software engineers with the skills and expertise to build your product.

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