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4 habits that keep programmers from becoming senior developers 1

4 habits that keep programmers from becoming senior developers

A career as a software developer ranks as #2 in the best technology jobs. Computing technology is growing exponentially, and we are at the cusp of automation. The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts software developer jobs will grow 17% between 2014 and 2024, a much faster growth rate than any other profession. Still, there is a server shortage of senior developers, and over 40 million technical jobs go unfulfilled due to a lack of skilled talent. One might argue that with so many people passionate about software development, why do they lack the skills to advance in the field?

The problem is a lack of understanding of what makes successful senior developers. Your technical skills and experience can only get you so far. To be a highly successful developer career, you might have to keep away from some of the fairly common developer habits. 

Talent500 team evaluated several successful developers and noted their habits and traits. Here are the programmer habits that can keep you from becoming a senior developer.

1. Not making active decisions

As a programmer, you will spend most of your time coding. However, you must work proactively and make operational decisions for career progression. There is no set path to becoming a senior developer. It is not a position that you will be upgraded to automatically after spending a few years as a junior developer. Depending on the competition within your organization, it can take time.

At most IT companies, even with exceptional skills, developers wait a long time to become senior developers. To stay ahead of the competition, you should not depend on your manager to progress your career. Instead, make an effort and take calculated risks based on your skills and experience. If you are stuck in a dead-end job, don’t expect your leaders to rescue you, upskill, seek more responsibilities, and take risks to break free.

2. Incessant complaining about the workplace issues

As a programmer, you are expected to be good at solving problems. But, when it comes to workplace issues, just your coding skills aren’t enough. Suboptimal tools and processes can hinder your productivity and reduce the code quality. Another challenge developers face when working within a team is uncollaborative teammates. When faced with such workplace issues, you have two options: solve them or complain about them.

What do you think senior developers do?

Emotional maturity is another trait of senior developers that employers look for. If you incessantly complain about workplace issues, you lack the maturity to become a senior developer. Senior developers never blame the team or management; instead, they put effort into solving workplace issues to create a healthy work environment.

Complaining and blame-game are programmer habits that prevent developers from growing in their careers. Such professionals are seen as troublemakers by leaders. Therefore, nurture patience and maturity that will earn you the respect of peers. It ultimately contributes to your promotion to a senior level.

3. Assuming the user, or the environment of the product

This comes from the desk of Karen Panetta, IEEE fellow and associate dean of the school of engineering at Tufts University. She explains that a habit that can limit a developer’s career is to assume what’s not specified within the functional requirements of a product. Wrong assumptions can kill the product. As a developer, it is your responsibility to anticipate the needs of the product as often clients are not tech savvy and depend on you to lead the project development. Senior developers are outstanding communicators with presentation skills and the ability to convey a concept to any audience.

Developers who lack the skill to communicate with stakeholders and help them understand the requirements and needs of a product will find it hard to climb up the career ladder.

4. Lacking professional discipline

Professional discipline is a virtue necessary for success in any career. Any programmer aspiring to become a senior developer must have a disciplined approach.

What does professional discipline for software developers encompass?

Developers must possess important discipline elements, among other essential soft skills, including fulfilling commitments at work, meeting deadlines, being collaborative, showing empathy, asking for help when needed, effective delegation, and assisting team growth.

In theory, these traits might sound easy to possess, but on the ground, many software engineers fail to adhere to them. The most common reason for their failure is the lack of understanding or willingness to amp up their performance to become better developers. However, any senior developer will have these attributes, and if you aspire to be one, you must actively work on nurturing them.

Being a senior developer requires working hard to meet deadlines, delivering products under pressure without venting out on the team, guiding the team through challenges, and being fully aware of your capabilities and limitations. If you lack professional discipline, you will become a bottleneck for your growth and the entire team.


These four programmer habits can prove costly to your career growth. To become a senior developer, you proactively need to adjust your technical and soft skills to avoid or overcome these habits.

Talent500 is a platform for developers to find senior roles with global companies. Sign up here to join our elite pool of talent.


Zaiba Fathima

Zaiba Fathima

Zaiba is Talent500's Product business analyst. Her degree in Computer Science helps her decipher the requirements of the product-engineering team, and understand both sides of the picture. Central to product development and delivery, Zaiba aspires to become a product manager at a young age and a director of the product team at rapid speed.

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