Communication is key

Aug 2, 2017 · 4 min read

Giving the hard sell on “soft skills”

Today at school we got an hourlong presentation on using LinkedIn effectively, which ended with a summary slide of statements we were to evaluate as true or false. One of these was “You should add soft skills to your skills,” and the “correct” answer seemed to be, more or less, false. My hand shot up, and I said that well, actually, soft skills are extremely important in tech, as they are everywhere, and that if you’re an excellent programmer who can’t communicate with other people, nobody with any sense is going to want you on their team.

Later, I elaborated via Slack to one of the school administrators as follows:

Several hours later, I’m still mildly exercised about this. So I sifted through my bookmarks for a couple of favorite discussions of the communication issue, to share with my classmates. It ended up being too much to dump into Slack, and we’re supposed to be blogging regularly about tech-related things, because personal branding, so I’m throwing them here.

This post is so totally on brand for me.

1. Andrea Goulet: “Communication Is Just As Important As Code”


☚ Sidebar: “Soft skills” as feminine, and therefore utterly worthless, duh

The cultural tendency to identify soft skills with “women’s work,” which is obviously not worth paying real cash money for, is a whole other infuriating aspect of this topic, which I could spend all night posting links about, assuming I didn’t suffer a rage-blackout within the first half-hour. Instead, I will just mention this oldie but goodie: Lauren Bacon: “Women in Tech and Empathy Work.”

2. Sam Phippen: “On the unreasonable reality of ‘junior’ developer interviews”


☚ Sidebar: !@#$% whiteboarding

If you’ve heard me rant about whiteboarding tests, the literally impossible one described in Sam’s post is the kind of thing that sets me off. Yes, whiteboarding a worthwhile exercise for us as students. Whiteboarding forces you to think through a problem differently, when you can’t rely on autocomplete or test your ideas as you go along. But a lot of places that use whiteboarding tests are just trying to cover up for not having any idea of (a) what jobs they’re actually hiring for, and (b) how to actually identify the right people for those jobs. I have so many other great links about how whiteboarding is trash as an interviewing technique; don’t get me started.

Well, more started.

3. Sarah Mei’s Twitter thread on coding bootcamp grads versus CS grads


With most people, when I ❤ their tweets, what I really mean is ★, but with Sarah Mei, I actually mean ❤. She is so fab.


So, yeah, maybe you don’t want to list your so-called soft skills at the tippy top of a tech CV, but they are by no means unimportant, and over the long run, they may give you an advantage over developers who have had more formal training.


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Book geek, cakeatarian, software developer.