Edgardo Carreras | Blog

The Importance of Professionalism in the Software Industry: Lessons Learned from a Decade in the Field

February 03, 2023


The software industry requires a high level of professionalism. However, as a developer, there are attitudes and actions that you should avoid to become a professional. This article shares tips for developers who want to improve their professionalism. It highlights the top ten unprofessional developers’ actions and how to avoid them.

Firstly, avoid committing to work that you cannot guarantee. Developers often agree to meet deadlines under pressure, which may lead to taking shortcuts and compromising the quality of the work. Therefore, it’s essential to learn when to say no and only commit to tasks you can guarantee.

Secondly, protect your time and focus. If a meeting does not require your immediate participation, politely decline or excuse yourself. Software development requires significant focus and concentration, which are not infinite resources. So pace yourself, prioritize sleep, and know when to walk away.

Thirdly, avoid abandoning disciplines under pressure. Unprofessional developers leave their code as-is after making it work. The best advice is to keep refactoring while practicing TDD (Test Driven Development). Please do not abandon your disciplines; rely on them even more under pressure.

Fourthly, estimating work without giving a range is unprofessional. Managers will get false hopes when you give just one number. Hope kills projects. Therefore, always communicate estimations as a range and agree on a backup plan.

Fifthly, don’t hold yourself unaccountable for shipping bugs. Developers should take responsibility for the bugs in their code and strive to reduce the error rate. It is unprofessional to assume that QA will catch all bugs. Automated tests for your code are crucial to ensure its quality.

Sixthly, avoid tunnel visioning or “the zone” while coding. While “the zone” can increase the amount of code they write, developers often lose sight of the big picture. Take a break, walk, or pair program with someone else when you notice yourself slipping into “the zone” while coding.

Seventhly, start work with a clear goal or definition of what is done. A well-written story with a clear goal helps resolve arguments and ensures that the team understands the situation.

Eighthly, deliver on time. Manage lateness and report it as soon as possible and with transparency.

Ninthly, broaden your horizons. Employers often limit the languages and domains their programmers work on, resulting in an unhealthy narrowing of skillsets. Instead, learn new languages and technologies, keep your skills sharp, and prepare for the changes that periodically transform our industry.

Lastly, collaborate with the team. Unprofessional developers take it personally when another person critiques their work. Professionals know that collaboration helps improve the quality of the work.

In conclusion, professionalism is vital in the software industry, and avoiding unprofessional attitudes and actions is essential to becoming a more successful developer. By implementing the tips outlined in this article, such as learning to say no to work you can’t guarantee, protecting your time and focus, and taking responsibility for bugs in your code, you can improve your professionalism and become a more valuable team member. Additionally, broadening your horizons by learning new languages and technologies and collaborating with your team can help you stay ahead of the curve in a constantly evolving industry. Remember, professionalism is not just about the quality of your code but also how you approach your work and interact with others. By prioritizing professionalism, you can set yourself apart and succeed in the software industry.


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Written by Edgardo Carreras.

© 2023, Edgardo Carreras