We all make mistakes in our professional careers, and novice software developers are no different. It’s all too easy to fall into conventional traps as a developer, especially as a newbie. It’s important to change your behavior when starting out in your software developer career to overcome such issues.
Of course, the mistakes you make will depend on the type of software you create. For instance, if you work for a telecommunications company, you may be in charge of creating small business PBX systems and make programming mistakes due to a lack of understanding of communication protocols. If you’re a software developer in the finance sector, you may struggle to make competent banking apps due to not grasping API security standards.
Let’s cover eight common mistakes often made by novice developers at the beginning of their careers.
Common Junior Developer Mistakes
Not Knowing Their Worth
When you’re at the beginning of your career, you might not have the experience or knowledge of the industry needed to properly decide your salary. Sure, you can check sites like Glassdoor and SalaryExpert, but these won’t give you a true representation of your worth based on your skill set and education.
If you don’t understand your salary expectations, you may make the mistake of choosing the first job offer you receive and working for years at a lower salary than you should be earning. You may also be expected to take on a heavy workload while taking a below-average salary.
While money isn’t the sole focus for many software developers, paying what you’re worth is important. Before committing to a job, get to know their company culture, chat with other developers within the company, and gain a full idea of what projects you’ll be expected to work on.
You might want to consider a freelancer career if you don’t want to undergo laborious interviews or be part of another recruiting tracking software statistic. With freelancing, you can choose your own projects and get more diverse experience when starting your career.
Neglecting Soft Skills Development
Soft or non-technical skills are still a major part of a software developer’s role. You need to be able to communicate effectively as part of a tech team, listen to criticism and critique, and manage your time well. Neglecting these soft skills is common for developers, who seem to focus more on developing their technical skills (such as improving their technology expertise or learning the appropriate coding languages).
However, it’s also essential to recognize the importance of effective teamwork and collaboration. Whether you’re working in a team within a large organization or managing projects on your dedicated server as a freelancer, your soft skills play a vital role in your success.
Don’t fall into the trap of neglecting them, especially as more and more recruiters are paying attention to listening and communication skills as part of a software developer role. In high-volume hiring processes, you don’t have long to impress the hiring manager. Showcase soft skills like:
- Critical thinking
- Time management
Make a commitment to developing your soft skills over time to ensure you succeed as a software developer for years to come.
Lack of a Career Plan
Going blindly into your software career with no career plan can stunt your growth as a professional. You might feel confused about where you’re going or your future goals. A career plan doesn’t just have to include your goal salary. It may also include what programming languages you want to learn in the future or what project types you aim to work on.
Making a comprehensive plan will help you decide what technologies and tools you should learn to get to the next stage in your career. Rather than jumping between programming languages, career plans will help you to focus on one skill at a time and prioritize what you should learn first.
Without developing your own plan, you may get stuck in the same junior-level position for years, only to find you could’ve moved on to bigger things sooner. Consider talking to a recruiter who uses a recruitment CRM to better understand what skills you need to secure a high-paying role.
As a novice software developer, feedback can provide a goldmine of information that you can use to improve your work as a professional. Accepting and taking on positive or negative feedback will allow you to understand your weaknesses better when it comes to programming and how you can learn new skills to improve your progress.
Many novices make the common mistake of taking negative feedback to heart and letting their emotions overshadow the valuable information being presented.
So, why do some novice developers struggle with receiving negative feedback?
Like all creative careers, software developers put their heart and soul into their projects, often spending hours on single pieces of code. Getting negative feedback from higher-ups can then feel like a personal attack on their craft, and they may block valuable insights from being presented to them.
Don’t fall into this trap. When you receive negative reviews of your code, take a step back and consider how these improvements will help you progress as a software development professional.
Learning Too Many Programming Languages
With so many programming languages to choose from, novice software developers may feel the pressure to learn as many as possible – especially when different job roles require different skill sets. However, trying to learn multiple languages at once in your first few years as a developer can lead to a lack of deep understanding.
For instance, if you learn Python, C+ and Java at the same time, you’ll likely have a surface-level understanding of each. Whereas a professional who takes the time to learn Python thoroughly will be able to create more complicated projects that impress bosses and clients.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t try and become proficient in different programming languages. However, as a novice software developer, focus on learning one or two languages in-depth in the early stages of your career.
Focusing on other programming aspects, like ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability), is also necessary
Taking on Big Projects Too Quickly
Novice developers may rush into taking on big projects to impress superiors and showcase their skills. However, this can be a detrimental mistake, especially if they bite off more than they can chew. While we advise that you stay ambitious in the early years of your career, don’t rush to take on projects that are beyond your skills. This can make you look unprofessional in the long term.
Developing programming skills often involves trial and error and active learning by working on skills while developing projects. Start small and build up as your skills develop to protect your professional reputation as well as your sanity!
Over-engineering is a problem faced by novice and expert software developers alike. It’s when you design a product with more features than needed, making it far too complex for the target market. In particular, new and talented software developers may over-engineer products after using their newfound knowledge unnecessarily or trying to prove their worth without fully planning out the end-use of the project.
To avoid this common mistake, try talking to your seniors or another developer and setting out a comprehensive plan of what should be included in the end product before putting a finger on your keyboard.
Disregarding Thorough Testing
Novice developers probably won’t have faced the frustration of spending hours on code only for it not to work once finished. This is why thoroughly testing your code is essential. It helps you to find errors and missing requirements in your work before it’s too late and you’re getting to the end stage of your project.
Avoid falling for this common mistake by thoroughly testing your code whenever you make changes to your code. Yes, you heard that right. Run tests when you write any new code lines and when you make changes to your current written code.
Regular testing will help you pinpoint exactly where you went wrong and quickly amend your code. Without doing this, you’ll spend hours trawling through every change you’ve made to find where exactly you went wrong in the first place.
Avoid These Common Junior Developer Errors and Thrive in Your Career
We hope this article prevents you from falling for these eight common developer mistakes. From failing to test your software regularly to neglecting your communication and teamwork skills, a novice developer has much to avoid.
Of course, making mistakes is all part of developing as a software professional. Don’t get too disheartened if you’re struggling in the first few years of your career. Software development is a burgeoning field with constantly evolving technology. Stay open to learning and you’ll no doubt thrive in all your future software endeavors.