22nd of August, 2016
Web developer coding exam

I know what you are thinking.

You can create a seamless JavaScript code in your sleep, you have mastered HTML and CSS to the point that you speak in code in regular conversation, and can integrate back-end systems with the best of them.

What skills could I possibly be talking about to get you hired as a web developer if not to be a phenomenal coder?

It’s true, becoming a web developer includes being well versed in code. However being proficient in a plethora of programming languages isn’t enough to qualify you as a strong web developer. That honor falls to your soft skills.

In a 2014 Career Builder survey, 77% of companies said they value soft skills as much as hard skills. While coding can be learned relatively quick, soft skills are tied more to your potential and personality traits.

Meaning it’s a lot slower to change and improve.

Let’s delve into the top 5 skills that will win you the hearts, and jobs, of hiring managers everywhere.


No matter how beautiful your code is, you need to be able to get your ideas across in a way both your employer and end user can understand. According to a 2014 NACE survey, 73.4% hiring managers identified that communication was the 3rd most sought after soft skill for employment. Websites may be written in code, but are created from a multitude of agreements.

For web developers, this can translate to a multitude of things:

Good communicators know when to be brief and when to go into detail, build strong relationships, and listen well—all things you will need in any work environment. Cultivate your active listening skills by asking questions to clarify what the client is describing to you, then repeat it back to them in your own words. The better you are at clearly stating your intentions, the less chance there will be in project delays due to miscommunication. Tim Jahn of matchist.com adds, “Most people think they need the best Web developer to get their project done. Unless you're working with nuclear reactors or advanced rocket science, you actually don't. What you need is a fantastic communicator. The number one reason projects break down is because there is a miscommunication between the developer and you.”

Sales Mentality

You don’t need to have a business degree in order to understand your employer's ultimate goal is to make money. However you should know how to identify if your website is contributing or hurting their overall sales goals.

Lead generation, sales funnel, and bounce rate are just a few metrics you should be familiar with and will give you more rapport with your potential employer. Your clients don’t care about all the bells and whistles that go into creating a site—they care about what their customers will say. If you can’t translate the business goals to the end user then you aren’t succeeding at your job. Be vigilant in learning how your role fits into the overall business strategy of your employer. Keeping a sales mentality when creating your site will help you continually build sites that covert visitors into customers and keep your employer happy.

Time Management

Do you work under pressure when you need to send a landing page off for a client review?

We’ve all been there before. The moment you get into the zone, burying your head down as you write code for hours—only to burn out and not work on a site for a couple days. Can you keep that same schedule up when you have three other projects to finish as well? Time management is a crucial skill needed within a web developer. Prioritize your day in order to make progress or finish your projects within the deadlines for clients. Figure out the best way to track the time spent working on projects for work compared to ‘time-wasters’ , and how to find a happy (and sustaining) schedule. Check out these tips compiled specifically for web developers here to learn more.


Change is nothing new to you. Every day new programs, software, and ‘best practices’ are popping up in the tech industry. Adaptability is a strong skill that is needed when working in the tech industry, especially when working on specific projects. Adaptability can mean anything from a change of scope in a project, to moving to a brand new team with new people.

Requirements change over the course of time, and you need to be able to make the shift. In coding terms, this requires you to keep up with the changes that occur in everyday business. Not being able to adapt leads to you being obsolete, and therefore unneeded, by a company. Nobody likes to work with someone who is ‘set in their ways’ and refuses to change with the times.

Continual Learning

To again quote Stacy Ferriera (read her full quote and more in last week's post), "The most important thing when hiring your first Web developer is looking for someone who is willing to learn." Having a ‘forever student’ mentality as a web developer is a strong skill that employers appreciate when they look to keep their sites up to code. As mentioned above technology is always changing, and keeping a pulse on the industry only brings more value to you. Read tech blogs, follow industry leaders, and brush up on certifications (like the ones found here on CanCanIT)! Find ways to stay sharp on what is up and coming in your field.

Web development is no longer a solo career that can be built inside the four corners of your room. You need to be able to demonstrate your ability to align with your employer’s overall business strategy to be an effective web developer. These five soft skills will take time to cultivate, but in the long run will lead to hiring managers wanted to hire you before you have even broken out your portfolio.

Elisabeth Jackson
Elisabeth Jackson Contributing Author

Elisabeth Jackson is a front-end designer, content-superhero and public speaker. She works with talented rockstars to boost their public speaking skills and ace their next interview. She believes that looking for Pokemon is a form of cardio, and life is a lot brighter when you add sweets to your diet.

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