5 Things that Really Make a Sr. Developer

I’ve met, worked with or interviewed many “senior” developers, and it saddens me to say it, but most of them haven’t improved since the day they left school.

Time in the industry doesn’t make you any better at what you do, and it surely doesn’t make you worthy of the senior title.

  1. Skill

    Obviously any developer with the senior title should be very skilled at what they do. Not only should they should know the ins and outs of their primary language, but they should have a good repertoire or secondary languages that they are fluent in.

    Aside from skill with their language, they should posses a solid understanding of computer science theory, debugging techniques and application design. Different jobs/languages also require extra skills. For example, a Sr. Flash Developer should have a solid understanding of all the different types of math required to build complex animations.

    Bottom line – your senior developer should be able to build anything you need them to. And it should be built well.

  2. Initiative

    A senior developer should be taking initiative and changing things for the better around their place of work. They should be able to notice inferior tools and build something to replace it. They should notice when others have a weak point in their skill sets and try to train them up.

  3. Leadership

    A senior developer should be willing to take responsibility for the work of a larger group of programmers, after all, the senior developer is taking initiative to make sure all the people he/she is working with have the skills and knowledge to do their tasks well.

  4. Willingness

    You need to be willing to do the dirty work. A senior developer is not “above” doing any sort of work. They are always willing to do a task related to their job, to train someone new, or let a less experienced developer take a more challenging and fun project so that they can improve their skills.

  5. Devotion and Passion

    Above all, passion for your work and a devotion to development itself will make the most noticeable difference. Someone with passion for development will be doing all they can to get better at it, broaden their skill sets and encourage the others that they work with to do the same.

    Passion is the characteristic I look for most in any potential hire, regardless of level, as I believe it is what truly makes the difference and sets an average developer apart from one who has the potential to be great.

Have other things that you think add to what really makes a Sr. Developer? Leave a comment and let us know. Disagree with our list, or a part of it? Let us know that too.

As a final note to those junior or intermediate level developers who think they have all these skills and are looking to become a senior level developer, just be patient and keep improving upon the things mentioned here. Most places only look for years of experience when “promoting” someone to a senior level.

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  1. 1 08.25.08
    11:57 pm

    I will be starting work soon as a junior developer in a company and will be looking for those qualities in my seniors.
    I will keep this advice in mind and apply them to my work.

  2. 2 08.26.08
    9:58 am

    That’s good to hear Mark. Good luck with your new job, I hope it goes well for you. Just be passionate about your work and make sure that everything you do is of your highest quality and you’ll do great.

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