Main senior developer characteristics & qualities

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There is a hot debate going on regarding the main senior developer characteristics & qualities. We have run a survey and collected feedback from our own Apiumhub team and in this article you find the results.  

Being a junior, mid-level, or senior developer doesn’t solely have to do with the years of programming experience that you have. It all comes down to skill. This doesn’t mean that a senior developer has to be an expert in everything, but it’s safe to say that senior developers are far more skilled than junior and mid-level developers. And in this article we will see what kind of skills are meant here. 

Main senior developer characteristics & qualities

Based on our experience and on the survey we run, these are the characteristics of a senior developer: 

  1. Experience

Experience is typically thought of as years on the job, and while it’s not completely inaccurate, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Just as every developer is unique, so is their experience. One of the things we have seen in software development workd is that just because people have been a developer for a long time, that doesn’t mean they have gotten excellent at it. Also, while one developer might have spent three years in an intensive position where they worked to solve hard technical challenges every day. And another might have been doing the same basic thing over and over again, not learning anything new. 

If you need numbers, normally  we are talking about 3+ years’ experience.  

  1. Recognizing patterns from previous work, being independent and self-learner
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Whether through a peer or by searching on Google, senior developers figure it out and don’t stuck saying “ I am blocked”, I can’t do it. Also, being able to recognize patterns whether because of an error or because it was super successful is what helps grow. 


  1. Recognizing what you don’t know and learn 

It’s also important to understand what you don’t know. Almost all senior developersI struggle with imposter syndrome, the more they learn the more they realize they don’t know. And it motivates them to learn and grow even more. 


  1. Leadership

Senior developers should be able to help push the project forward. Senior developers have an ability to navigate social and political issues inside an organization and guide team towards common goal, resolving issues on the way. 

  1. Understanding the bigger picture

Each project comes with a bunch of stories to work through to get it done. Each story should be a focused piece that helps accomplish a larger goal. Senior Developer should be able to see how each piece fits into the puzzle and why the story is written with the specific acceptance criteria. Senior developers have an ability to match technical solutions to business needs. They are able to connect the dots and look beyond the immediate tasks at hand. 

  1. Mentoring less experienced team members

This comes naturally in the ability to help guide those on a team who are more junior or less experienced. Senior Developer should help guide others on a team to get them on the right path. Sharing knowledge is cruel here. 

  1. Technical knowledge 
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Obviously the senior developer has far more knowledge than the junior and mid-level developer. Knowing design patterns, software architecture, automating testing, performance, scalability, security, TDD, CI, etc. that’s what makes a difference.


  1. Ability as a sole programmer

Senior developers can develop an application completely on their own.The difference is that senior developers know how to ask the right questions and how these questions get handled. 


  1. Risk management and problem resolution 

Senior developers can define risks, can distill complex problems through the application of design patterns and can independently solve different issues due to past experience.  


As we all know, we can’t know everything in this world and can’t be good at all fields. Therefore senior frontend developer can be junior in backend. I hope this article was useful! If you have other points to add, feel free to do so in the comments section below! 


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