Why Software Developers Need Soft Skills to Succeed

Dan Pickett

By Dan Pickett

December 6, 2023


Software engineering starts and ends as a communication challenge. A software developer could be a whiz in JavaScript, but if they can’t write a coherent email, that’s going to be a problem. 

Mastering soft skills like written communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking is essential to succeeding in your software engineering job. The reality is you won’t get very far if you can’t explain the problem your code solves or how the application will affect the customer’s bottom line.

Here’s another way to think about it: a well-worded email to your team lead can get you closer to a greenlit project than 10 hours of rigorous coding. 


A well-worded email to your team lead can get you closer to a greenlit project than 10 hours of rigorous coding. 


To use a metaphor (another great communication tool): technical skills are the nail—soft skills are the hammer.

Let’s talk about why communication skills, in particular, are so important. 


The Role of Communication Skills in Software Engineering Jobs

Ideas lie at the core of software engineering. But you can’t communicate ideas in code alone—you need clear, convincing verbal and written communication to do that. 

Excellent communication skills empower software developers to: 

  • Articulate the problem code needs to solve
  • Manage low-performing team members
  • Convince team leads to try new ideas
  • Explain code to clients and stakeholders

And with tools like Slack and Teams at the heart of most software teams, effective written communication is more important than ever.

The dangers of poor written communication

In the digital age, people’s written communication has become undeniably sloppy. It’s one thing to use the wrong “your” when texting a friend. But if you leave a glaring typo in an email to a client, that seemingly minor mistake can majorly impact your credibility. Even the best ideas won’t land well if you don’t follow simple grammar and spelling rules when communicating them.

Luckily, there are simple solutions to preventing this kind of problem. 

We’ve already covered how using AI effectively can make you a better coder. But you can also leverage tools like Grammarly and ChatGPT to proofread emails, revise project drafts, and even rewrite copy to be more persuasive.


Get to know business terminology

Becoming familiar with business terminology is a big part of communicating well and building credibility in a business setting. More often than not, software engineers work for for-profit companies. In the business world, understanding terms like profit, net margin, gross margin, and cost of ownership is essential, whether you’re on the phone with a stakeholder or working through a coding problem with your team. 


How Launch Academy Helps Software Developers Build Soft Skills

At Launch Academy, we use proven training methods to help students improve technical skills and soft skills. Our coding bootcamp is a low-stakes environment where students can practice all aspects of being a software engineer—from coding to communicating their ideas effectively.


At Launch Academy, we use proven training methods to help students improve technical skills and soft skills.


From day one, our curriculum simulates a work environment. Students learn to use Slack—the same tool most modern businesses use—to communicate with classmates and instructors. Questions are asked and answered through Slack, and we coach students on frameworks for asking productive questions.


Simulating real-world software engineering tasks 

To truly simulate real-world software engineering tasks, Launch Academy positions small group projects at the core of our curriculum. Working together requires students to practice skills like collaboration, conflict resolution, and asking for help. 

In weeks 7 and 8 of our coding bootcamp, students work in teams of three or four, with one of our Experienced Engineers serving as team lead, to execute an entire software iteration. Students write user stories, hold daily stand-ups, and review each other’s pull requests. Setting expectations with peers and the team lead often creates conflict, and learning to manage that conflict is an essential soft skill we coach students through.

Our curriculum also teaches students to describe projects concisely, another critical skill for software developers. For example, in preparation for presenting their capstone projects, students perfect short elevator pitches to master succinct communication. Additionally, each student creates a clearly written README document, proceeding as if that document would be user-facing.


Find Success in Software Development with Soft Skills

In software engineering jobs, soft skills are far from “soft.” In fact, excellent communication and business savvy are crucial capabilities that engineers should prioritize. Developing soft skills leads to a better experience in your first software engineering job and aids career advancement and success down the road.

Want to learn more about how Launch Academy teaches soft skills? Download our syllabus