The skills needed to succeed in the modern workplace are evolving. This article is part of our skills series, which investigates what different roles and different departments need in order to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

Developers build and maintain the backbone of your business tools, such as your website, apps, and any internal management software you may use. They make sure things run smoothly, work well, and stay virtually secure. Here are the key developer skills you should look for when hiring a programmer or web developer.

7 Key Developer Skills

Can work independently or alone

There are times your developer will have to work on a project with a team. For example, a front-end developer will need programmers with different specialties to complete an app build. Hire someone who knows how to work independently, taking initiative and clarifying where needed, as well as someone who can work in a team, coordinating, communicating, and cooperating when needed.

Understands user needs

A good developer understands why he or she is building something, and who it’s for. Understanding the purpose of the website, app, or other software they’re developing is important because it contributes to user experience. For example, if a developer must choose between different hosts for an international website, they’ll need to know what country the target audience is from to make sure a website is hosted nearby (thereby increasing site speeds for the target user).

Problem solving

Things go wrong, websites break, and businesses sometimes need a function that hasn’t been built into a software yet. Knowing how to innovate and solve problems creatively and effectively is an important trait for a developer, whose expertise and problem solving skills can make the difference between an e-commerce website going down (and losing sales) for a few hours or an entire day.

Coding language skills

The core competency of a developer lies in his or her language skills. Do you need someone who knows Ruby on Rails, PHP, Java, Python, or something else? Whatever coding language you want to build with, make sure your developer is experienced and trained in it. A good way to gauge this in the hiring process is to assign them a test task; find and fix a bug, program a function, or something else.

Time management

Development work is time consuming due to the attention to detail needed; each line of code must be reviewed and tested to make sure everything works together well. Since the nature of the job consists of time consuming projects, your developer should have a powerful grasp of time, how quickly he or she works and can complete a project, and a penchant for delivering on deadlines.


A great developer is meticulous both when it comes to doing the job right initially as well as keeping everything securely up-to-date. It may cost more time initially, but doing the job right in the first place and building a strong foundation will save time and headaches down the road.

Can teach and learn

This is important for when your developers need to teach others (especially non-developers) how something works. It’s also important for them to go out and do the research to solve problems when they run into them, learning new things along the way.

What developer skills do you look for when hiring a developer or programmer? Share in the comments below.

About the Author: Jocelyn Pick