The Top 7 Traits Needed For Success As A Developer

The Top 7 Traits Needed For Success As A Developer

The Top 7 Traits Needed For Success As A Developer

Samantha Rafalowski
Samantha Rafalowski

What Makes a Developer Successful?

As the technology industry grows in size and prevalence, so do the recruiting pools. With coding boot camps and tech grads on the rise, developers may find competition steeper than usual. This is for a good reason – with many companies facing limited budgets and slowed recruiting, hiring managers to find themselves forced to be more discerning than ever before.

So what exactly are these managers looking for? What makes a standout developer candidate? Rarely are you transparently told the answers to these questions, so we asked our talent managers here at UpStack to bring light to this subject.

We compiled their answers into a list of the top seven traits that all successful developers have in common in our managers' eyes.

1. Curiosity

Every job requires you to learn something new. For that reason, curious developers tend to perform better and stay longer at new companies. Learning new languages, experimenting, looking for new solutions, and questioning assumptions are all things that great developers do every week.

Curious developers ask themselves:

  • What could I be missing?
  • How might my solution fail?
  • Is this an intuitive solution that will be easy to operate, troubleshoot, and maintain?
  • How could I have improved upon my most recent project?
  • Is there an expert I can ask?

Because these developers are the type to self-reflect, ask questions, and research; they almost always tend to be successful in new roles.

2. Efficiency

Good developers aren't always the first to commit to code. Instead, they choose to be efficient with their time, focusing on quality rather than speed. Optimized code requires forethought, planning, and practice; these steps take time.

Efficient developers aim for success by taking the "slow and steady" approach and ultimately reducing their time spent changing or improving the code. Clean code is quality code.

3. Adaptability

While good developers are efficient, great developers are adaptable. Great developers can adapt as business requirements and tools change. Take JavaScript, for example; after going years unchanged, it is now evolving rapidly. Compatibility issues ensue. Adaptable developers can always roll with the punches, pivoting when necessary.

Flexible employees are the key to any organization's success as its culture evolves to meet the rapidly changing demand of the technical market.

4. Attitude

Regardless of the context, attitude always affects the outcome. Positive thinkers with an I-can-do-it attitude are more likely to be successful professionally than those unhappy and unwilling to try new things. Plus, no one likes working with someone with a negative disposition – including coworkers with unchecked egos.

Our UpStack talent managers say humility goes a long way. A willingness to learn and acknowledge your target areas of improvement can help your career more than you know.

5. Communication

As with personal relationships, in professional interactions, communication is vital. Like any other employee, developers are responsible for politely and firmly communicating their needs and wants politely.

Success requires constant feedback, communication, and documentation -- this is doubly for developers. Nothing like proper code documentation turns a developer into a company asset and superstar. Thorough, digestible documentation is an area where most people fail, so it's a good opportunity for developers to set themselves apart.

6. Experience

Nothing substitutes for industry experience. The reality is that the best developers have real experience under their belts. It doesn't matter how much, necessarily, or even what the occasion is; rather, it matters what the developer has learned over their career. Whether in classes, personal projects, work projects, or more, the best developers absorb as much information as possible from past initiatives. And yes, learning "how to learn" counts.

7. Ownership

While product owner experience is an excellent resume booster for developers, just practicing ownership over code helps managers to have more confidence in their new hires. Code owners have more experience seeing a product through various lifecycle and maintenance stages; this form of leadership proves invaluable to teams and demonstrates tangible leadership skills.


Successful developers are unique like everyone else, but the traits they almost always have in common are the ones listed above. Each of our interviewed talent managers mentioned experience, ownership, and attitude as some of the most critical considerations in hiring a new developer.

Do you embody the spirit of a successful developer? You might set yourself apart from the growing pack by highlighting these skills in future interviews.