7 must-have skills for developers in 2021

15.02.2021 | 6 min read

A girl with long hair sitting at an office desk coding.

We often get questions from computer science students and recent graduates about what we look for in prospective candidates and whether we have any advice for jobseekers looking to launch a career in development. At 10Clouds, we have almost 100 developers in our midst, so we feel like we’re in a good place to advise on the top skills needed in this profession in 2021.

If you’re looking to start working as a developer, you should have a solid grounding in your chosen programming language, but also strong Cloud computing skills, a working knowledge of Git, experience with databases and an understanding of containerization. We hope that this list of must-have skills will be helpful to you, but note that it is by no means exhaustive.

1. Object-Oriented Programming

It goes without saying that in order to begin a career as a developer, you must have a grounding in at least one of the key programming languages. These days there are many, but Python and Java are still the most commonly used.

As you’re probably aware, object-oriented programming (OOP) is a model of development based around ‘objects’, which can contain both data and code. Data comes in the form of fields, which are often referred to as attributes or properties, and code, which comes in the form of procedures, which are sometimes referred to as methods.

OOP is a must when it comes to applying for a Junior Developer role, but familiarity with other paradigms (such as functional programming) can help in writing better code and help you to stand out from the crowd. Functional programming (FP) is the process of building software by composing pure functions, avoiding shared state, mutable data, and side-effects.

2. Database knowledge

Nearly every application needs to store its data somewhere. Therefore, every developer should be familiar with basic concepts such as table design and normalization, as well as SQL.

SQL is a must - even when using an ORM layer it is good to know how it works, how to write an SQL query, what transactions are, and so on.

noSQL database like Redis, MongoDB, memcached, dynamodb, graph databases, etc. are also quite useful for some very specific purposes - but if in doubt use SQL. The main thing to note is really getting to know one database and all of its features will be your best move. Aim for depth rather than breadth.

3. Cloud computing skills

Businesses in various sectors all over the world are increasingly moving their environments to the Cloud as it improves scalability and is more practical. It also helps to remove risk through robust recovery solutions which save time and help to avoid large investment up front. In summary, all of this means that sooner or later, you’ll need to work with cloud-native apps.

The basic Cloud platforms are Amazon Web Service (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Basic familiarity with one of these will stand you in good stead for good communication with DevOps and being able to troubleshoot some simple things on your own. Importantly, cloud computing skills will definitely put you ahead of the competition when it comes to applying for work. The good news is that you don’t have to learn all three - and learning one will actually give you a decent idea about how the others work.

4. Good knowledge of source control

Git (be it github, gitlab or something else) is currently industry standard when it comes to source control, so make sure that you’ve mastered it. Git is essential when it comes to code management - collaborators deliver their work to the shared repository. The code is then extracted to perform continuous integration. It can then be thoroughly tested and deployed in products.

You should know how to perform the most common tasks which include: branching, merging, rebasing, resolving conflicts and understanding cherry-pick commits. It’s also worth familiarizing yourself with the basic workflows (e.g. gitflow and gitlab flow). There are many free online courses for learning Git, so it’s select one and get cracking!

5. Use of containers

In the present day, every software developer, data scientist and project manager needs to have a working knowledge of containerization and the main tools used for this, namely Docker and Kubernetes. It’s now a well known fact that containers such as Docker not only help developers to test apps in a unified environment but they also offer a great method for simplifying the deployment process.

Docker has now become an industry standard and it’s how software is deployed, while docker-compose is essential for local development and setting up local environments.

It’s also worth familiarizing yourself with Kubernetes, which automates the process of scaling, managing, updating and removing containers. In doing so, it provides developers with a framework to run distributed systems resiliently.

If you want to learn more about how Docker and Kubernetes work, take a look at our blog post on the subject.

6. Knowledge of Agile Methodology

At 10Clouds, we always adhere to the Manifesto for Agile Software Development which stresses the importance of individuals and interactions, of collaboration, responding to change and producing working software that has value for businesses.

According to The Chaos Report (2018), half of the requirements in IT projects become outdated within six months and 75% within a year. It’s one of the reasons why the Agile approach makes IT projects twice as likely to succeed and bring business value.

You’ll find that Agile methodology is now widespread in the development sector, so it’s definitely worth reading up about it if you’ve never worked in it before. You might find our blog post on the subject useful.

7. Strong communication skills

Soft skills should never be underestimated and when it comes to development, being a good communicator is key. It’s actually something that most employers look out for during the interview process. And as most of us now work in a remote set up, effective communication has never been more important.

Remember that being a good communicator comes down to both conveying your own ideas and also listening to those of others. Active listening plays a key role in strong teamwork. Always try to demonstrate your communication skills in an interview - make sure you speak clearly, look directly at the interviewer and show your understanding through active listening. It’s also worth giving examples that highlight your communication skills, particularly as part of working on projects.

On the lookout for your next role?

The world of software development is constantly evolving, so keeping on top of the latest technologies is key when it comes to career success. We hope that our blog post is useful to you if you’re beginning your adventure with development and we wish you every success in finding your dream job.

Of course, we’d love for you to join us - so check out the latest positions and see whether there’s a role that is suited to your skills!

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