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Unveiling The Secrets Of Professional Software Developers

Ana Peterlić, Senior Software Developer

According to the statistics, in 2023, there are more than 27.7 million developers worldwide. What makes you different from others? How do you compete in the labor market? How do you stand out from the crowd?

Now, in the following sections, we will address a few characteristics every professional should have.

Reliability: The Foundation of Professional Reputation

Work reputation is especially important throughout the career. It is built over time. Every developer wants to be trustworthy and dependable. Now, if we want to be both, we need to be reliable first.

We cannot expect other people to feel like they can depend on us if we do not fulfil our commitments. Therefore, we should meet our deadlines and consistently deliver high-quality work. Even on those days when we would rather stay home in bed.

Furthermore, we should have extensive knowledge, skills and expertise in our field. Additionally, professionals do not mind helping others. They understand sharing knowledge will not undermine their value.

It is important to have standards in how we do our job and write our code.

In our professional interactions, we should prioritize honesty, fairness and confidentiality.

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Accountability: The Key to Professional Growth

The most important characteristic a professional can have is accountability. We should be responsible for the work we do, the code we write, and the software we deliver.

“Professionalism is all about taking responsibility.” - Robert C. Martin

If our code causes a problem in the production environment, the only one we should be pointing fingers at is ourselves. We should not blame testers, QA, or anyone else.

Likewise, we cannot be proud of something we did not take full responsibility for.

By establishing standards, we can ensure the quality of our software solutions. For instance, code testing can help us to check if our code is working as expected. This way, we can identify the errors ahead of time (before it is deployed in the production environment). If we failed to test our code, it will be tested by our clients. And, if some bugs are discovered, we will appear unprofessional.

Personal Growth: Increase Your Value

Simply put, our career should be our responsibility. It should not be the responsibility of our employer.

Nowadays, employers offer numerous benefits and opportunities to learn, such as attending conferences, taking courses, certifications, etc. However, it is in our hands to take them and appreciate them.

Now, to successfully compete in the labor market, we should define the main goal of our career. We should ask ourselves “What do we want to be when we grow old?”. Next, it is important to define several smaller goals that will lead us to the main goal. Additionally, smaller goals will keep us motivated.

Moreover, we should learn how to manage our time. Priorities influence the decision of whether a person will have time for career development or not. Due to priorities, we chose to do one task over the other. Therefore, career development needs to be ranked high enough on our priority list to be taken into consideration.

By investing in our knowledge, career and continuous improvement, we can offer additional value to the employer.

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Knowledge: The Main Tool in the Shed

Just as Francis Bacon said, "Knowledge itself is power". Especially when it is the only tool we have. For us developers, knowledge is the only thing we can offer to our employers. Moreover, it is the only thing we can compete in the labor market.

Unfortunately, every piece of knowledge comes with an expiration date. Modern technologies are constantly evolving, while older ones become less interesting and eventually become obsolete. Therefore, with CI/CD (continuous investment/continuous dedication) in personal growth and improvement, we can ensure our value to the employer will remain high over time.

Learning brings a lot of benefits to the table. When we learn about a certain technology, we do not only learn how to use it. We learn how such a technology is created and what ideas stand behind it. Additionally, we learn about the problems the technology aims to solve.

Through learning, our brain creates new connections between existing and new knowledge. It acquires new information and decides whether it aligns with existing conclusions or not. This allows for new discoveries and a deeper understanding of existing knowledge.

Among other things, knowledge enhances creativity. For example, reading stimulates the left side of the brain, the creative side. When reading, our brain creates visual images of what we are reading. By stimulating the creative side of the brain, we can generate innovative ideas to solve various problems, whether business-related or personal.

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Productivity and Efficiency: Maximize Performance

To maximize our performance at work, we should be productive and efficient. Nevertheless, a person who is productive is not necessarily efficient at the same time. Productivity means spending time focusing on the task at hand, while efficiency refers to completing it in a high-quality manner. In other words, tasks are completed in a way that minimizes the need for subsequent rework and corrections.

However, various distractions coming from the environment can make us less productive. For instance, co-workers stopping by our desks to chat can disrupt our focus. Additionally, during working hours, we receive emails and messages on official communication channels.

When we are distracted, we tend to switch focus from the task we were working on to the thing that distracted us. It takes an additional 10 to 15 minutes to get back to where we left off.

What is more, mobile phones are often used during working hours to divert attention from ongoing tasks. Responding to private messages, browsing social media and similar activities contribute to frequent interruptions during task completion. This way, we train our brains to be unfocused. Over time, this can have a significant impact on successful job performance.

It is important to note that we should spend the time agreed upon in the contract solving the employers' problem. We should not focus on our private problems during working hours.

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Multitasking: A Way to Kill Productivity

Many of us believe multitasking can help us improve productivity. It would be true if we performed the tasks simultaneously. In practice, we interrupt one task to work on another, thus, the tasks are not carried out in parallel.

According to the study, only 2% of the world's population is successful in multitasking. For the remaining 98%, such actions cause more harm than good. If you do not belong to this 2%, you should avoid multitasking.

We can improve our focus through constant practice. Techniques like the Pomodoro technique provide assistance in creating and maintaining focus on the current task. This technique involves 25 minutes of concentration on one task, setting aside various distractions. After the time is up, a 5-minute break follows, during which we can check communication channels and respond to messages.

Soft Skills: The Key to Collaborative Success

Most developers work in a team. A team, by definition, is a group of people that work together to accomplish some goal.

Usually, we are not able to choose our team members. Therefore, in one team we can find people with different profiles and characteristics. Despite our differences, we should treat each other with respect. After all, different points of view can lead to great solutions.

Additionally, in a team, we should act as a group. Meaning, if one member has a problem, we all have a problem. If one team member makes a mistake, we all make a mistake. When talking about our team, we should rather use the plural than the singular.

In a team, there should not be competitive programming. We are all working towards the same goal. Instead of competing, we should spend time helping each other. One of the ways we can help our co-workers is mentoring. It can be especially helpful to junior developers. We can transfer our values and standards they can adopt as their own. Isn’t that beautiful?

Mastering Professionalism: Your Path to Becoming a True Expert

We cannot become professional overnight. We independently decide how we will spend our time. We need to be prepared to invest in ourselves and our knowledge if we want to become professionals. In other words, we should be prepared to invest part of our free time in learning.

Now, according to Uncle Bob, we should invest about 20 hours a week in learning. However, even slight changes, when added up, can make a significant difference over time. With this in mind, we can see progress over time by investing, for instance, 2 hours a week.

How to invest our time wisely?


“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.“ - Mark Twain

In the morning, instead of scrolling through social media, we can read one chapter of a book or some technical article.

Furthermore, if we commute to work using transport, we can listen to an audiobook instead of a radio.

However, learning does not have to be just reading technical literature. We can also learn through the code. For example, Java is open source so we can see how some functionality is implemented at any time. This way, we can gain insight into how our code will fit into the whole Java system.


Writing a blog can also be another way of learning. In addition to contributing to the community, writing a high-quality article requires spending time researching the topic we want to write about and finding the best way to present it to the readers.

Additionally, writing helps us practice expressing our own thoughts.

Key Takeaways

In this article, we went over some key points about professionalism in software development. It is important to invest in our career, our knowledge, and to be up to date with recent technologies. After all, our knowledge is the only tool we can offer to the employer.

Lastly, it is important to recognize that our job and career are not the only aspects of our life. A person should not live to work but rather work to live. It is necessary to find a balance between professional and personal life.

If you are looking for professional developers to expand your existing team, feel free to contact us.

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