Review of "Soft Skills" the software developers manual

Review of "Soft Skills" the software developers manual

I recently finished reading "Soft Skills" by John Sonmez and was eager to share my thoughts. My thirst for soft skills and desire to grow as a software engineer towards managerial and leadership positions drew me to this book. While I'd rate it a 4 out of 5, I found it particularly valuable for learning about self-marketing, even though some case studies might not apply universally due to skill level, cultural and environmental differences. However, I truly appreciate the author's transparent storytelling and his emphasis on the importance of soft skills beyond mere technical expertise as a software engineer.

Who is John Sonmez?

John Sonmez expertise in various areas. He's a blogger, YouTuber, teacher, author, and software engineer, making him well-equipped to share his diverse experiences. He's taught courses on Pluralsight and retired as a "polyglot programmer" in his 30s. While the book is highly beneficial for those early in their careers, even seasoned engineers will find valuable takeaways.

Structure of the Book

The structure of the book resonated with me, especially Section 1 to 3.

Section 1: Career

In this section, John emphasizes treating your career as a business, not just a job, as many software engineers neglect career management. His insightful discussion on goal setting resonated with me. He challenged my previous tendency to relax after achieving major goals, like passing exams. Instead, he encourages us to envision larger, long-term goals, like becoming a CTO or bestselling author, and view the journey as a marathon, not a sprint. Another valuable point was his "hack" for interviews: showcasing strong people skills can significantly improve your chances of getting hired and ranking higher.

Section 2: Marketing Yourself

John explores various self-marketing strategies, with blogging standing out as a compelling method. He emphasizes how his blog helped him showcase his skills and expertise to the world. He recommends blog creation for developers of all levels, ideally within a niche, as being a "master" in a specific area makes you more attractive to specific employers. He also highlights the importance of building a brand and becoming a "man of value." Notably, he advises choosing responsibility over money during career crossroads, as value eventually attracts financial rewards.

Section 3: Learning

This section, one of my favorites, further strengthened my learning approach after reading "How to Read" by J Sadler. John presents a 10-step learning process that I found incredibly effective:

  1. Get the big picture.

  2. Determine the scope.

  3. Define success.

  4. Find resources.

  5. Create a learning plan.

  6. Filter resources.

  7. Learn enough to get started.

  8. Play around.

  9. Learn enough to do something useful.

  10. Teach.

Section 4: Productivity

John primarily discusses his use of the Pomodoro technique for improved focus and productivity, which aligns with Peter Hollins' ideas in "How to Finish What You Start." Both emphasize gaining momentum, overcoming inertia, and fostering perseverance and grit. John also shares his personal plan, Kanban board usage, and the "quota system," a valuable concept.

While I enjoyed other sections i skimmed through financial literacy, fitness, and spirit, I plan to explore those topics in greater depth with other authors specializing in these areas.

Overall, "Soft Skills" is a valuable read for anyone seeking to develop their soft skills and advance their careers in software engineering. John Sonmez's insights and practical advice make this book a worthwhile addition to any professional's bookshelf.