What are top 3 skills of senior dev and why coding is not one of them

I’ve been a software developer for over two decades now. I worked with companies like Microsoft, Jaguar, Skype, and HMTCS. So either I’m full of beans, or there is something in what I’m about to tell you.

Coding is not a top skill for a senior developer. It needs to be a top skill for junior developers rather than for senior ones. Senior developers live and breathe it, so it’s not a top skill you should be looking at. 

It’s like saying that ultra-marathon runners need to be able to run. Of course, they need to be able to run, but that will not guarantee they will be good at ultra marathon running. 


How do you expect to be able to deliver the work you promised, help junior developers and sit in meetings when you can’t get your job done? 

You only realise how important it is to be able to focus when circumstances will cut your time in half. I.e. Your deadline was moved from 2 days to first thing in the morning. Are you going to wave your hand and scroll through Reddit some more? Or will you drop everything and start to code?

We’ve all been there. 


One thing that differentiates a good Senior developer from a Junior one is to know the priority. 

I was recently in a situation where I had to decide if it was a priority to fix a bug that caused customers to be upset. Or fix another bug that was causing data loss. I discovered both bugs simultaneously and had minimal time to fix either of the issues.

On the one hand, you have customers complaining about errors. On the other hand, you have an error that no one is complaining about yet, but it will cause more significant problems down the road. 

So, I fixed the error to stop the complaints from customers. Just kidding. I fixed the other bug that no one was complaining about yet.


I love to find ways how to do things faster. Starting from keyboard shortcuts and ending with reasonable use of AI tools.  

I was talking to one of our Junior developers. I wanted to find out if there was something I could help him with. So he can get better and faster. He first said, “I know that I’m not as fast as you guys …” (meaning me and other senior developers on the team).

When I troubleshoot with him, I see that he is using tools that should make him faster. And for the most part, they do. But not to a level where other devs and I are. Why do you think is that?

One of those things is to better understand why and how things work. Tools only get you so far. 

Hey there, I’m Petr. Are you a Ruby on Rails developer feeling overworked and under-appreciated? I’ve been there, so I wrote a short guide – 7 Steps to Ruby on Rails Freedom – which I’d love to share with you. Just email me for the link.

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