Passion is as important as skills

by Rasmus Hvidberg Josiassen 2. February 2012 08:09

I recently read a job advertisement, in which I stumbled upon the following phrase:

You care about software, you have a passion for what you do which you can clearly convey by your actions rather than just waffly personal statements on your CV”

Well done!

Unfortunately such statements are rare in job-postings. And (as a result perhaps…) every job application and consultant-résumés I’ve ever seen are all about skills.

Don’t get me wrong – technical, business and communicational skills are of course a must. They just only cover part of the expectations I think a good software developer should meet.

A passionate developer cares about his craft. He takes pride in improving his skills (not just the technical stuff, but soft and business skills as well), in seeking new ways to increase effectiveness and productivity for himself and his team, and takes pride in delivering high quality products that meets the customer’s expectations. That’s important stuff!

Hence I would rather work with a developer with mediocre skills but with a keen interest and passion about his work and craft than a developer with great technical skills, but little or no passion for his profession.

I would expect a good developer to be able to provide thoughtful answers to questions like: “What do you think characterizes well-crafted software?”, “What makes code beautiful?”, and “Why are you software developer?”

I would also expect a good developer to spend at least some of his evenings on catching up on trends in the developer community, trying out new features in his development environment or reading literature on technical and soft skills.

And he’s not spending those late hours because he’s expected to, but due to a profound interest in his profession and career.


Software craftsmanship

Comments (4) -

Jan Daniel Andersen
Jan Daniel Andersen Denmark
2/14/2012 10:51:15 AM #

Yes! Passion matters. It is directly visible in the code, how much passion a developer has for his craft. Looking at code, you can see if it was made by a passionate or a mediocre developer. Passionate developers care for their code. They are constantly thinking about how to improve it, while weighing the benefits of the potential change.

The passionate developer is not satisfied with "the code works". He constantly challenges the requirements to make sure that the businessgoal is achieved , rather than securing  that an arbitrary requirement is met. And one of these goals will (and should) often be, maintainability. Maintainable code means clean code, as simple as possible code and code that clearly states its intent (ie. no code comment explaining what the code is doing).

The passionate developer sometimes join (or starts) long conversations with his teammates about design principles or lengthy discussions about the most elegant solution to a problem or even spends time thinking about a really good name for a method. Because for the passionate developer, "a solution" is not good enough. It has to be elegant. The most elegant among all possible solutions. It has to be something that the developer can be proud of and that he can show-off to his peers and be applauded for.

But probably most of all - which in turn is closest related to the subject of this post - is that a passionate developer loves getting constructive critique about his code. It's through the collaboration of collagues - among other things - that he hones his own skills. And skills matter. Everybody know that - especially the passionate developer.


Mira Gormally
Mira Gormally United States
3/29/2012 10:27:07 AM #

Con­grat­u­la­tions and Happy Birth­day!! Wish­ing you many more years of grow­ing success.


Johnna Swearngen
Johnna Swearngen United States
4/18/2012 5:28:59 PM #

In my home state of Tennessee, massaging octopi is illegal.


Francesco Kut
Francesco Kut United States
4/30/2012 11:44:36 PM #

I have to say that for the past couple of hours i have been hooked by the amazing articles on this site. Keep up the wonderful work.


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About the author

I'm a software craftsman who ended up as manager and now is trying to get a grip on what makes good developers and how to establish a high performing developer environment in regards to people, processes and tools.

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