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Jenesh Napit
Jenesh Napit

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5 traits to go from Junior to Senior Software Engineer

The difference between a senior and a junior goes beyond years of experience. The way you think and work changes. I’ve narrowed it down to 5 traits, so let’s dive in.

1. Planning before Coding

As a junior, I was always eager to get coding with the first solution that came to mind. Later, I realized that a senior engineer spends more time planning and analyzing problems from many angles.

Junior engineer vs Senior engineer

Senior engineers often have much more knowledge and experience, so they can often develop better solutions.

Is there anything a junior can do to compensate for the lack of experience? Yes, they can borrow and capitalize on a Senior’s expertise. Before coding, discussing and reviewing my approach with a Senior has saved me from writing unnecessary code toward the wrong solution.

2. Continuous Learning

Senior Software Engineers understand that technology constantly changes, so they stay updated with the latest tools, languages, and frameworks. There are many ways to learn and be on top of new tech. Some of those ways are reading books, attending conferences, or taking online courses. The key is to invest in growing their knowledge and skills.

Some great websites for learning that I use often are:

  • YouTube
  • Udemy
  • Medium

3. Time + Task Management

As a Junior, my tasks would finish relatively slowly. In comparison, Senior engineers were closing out tickets left and right. Over time, I realized that time management is a learned skill that Senior engineers have mastered.

My four tips for effective time management are:

  • Breaking down the tasks before starting
  • Time-boxing when working on tasks
  • Delegating tasks with the team
  • Saying “no” when needed

Laptop and task management graphics

Time management relies heavily on Task management. So here are two of my favorite tools I use for task management:

  • Trello
  • Notion Projects

4. Collaborative Mindset

Software engineering is not a one-person game. The best work happens with collaboration with others.

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." - Helen Keller

As a junior, I made mistakes, thinking I had the best solution, only to find out later in the code review that it wasn’t. To avoid this kind of situation, engineers should share and collaborate often. Here’s a great article on The power of collaboration in Software Development.

5. Attention to Detail

In the world of software engineering, attention to detail is critical. Your code can be one edge case away from blowing up on-call.

My perfectly working code, edge case.

Write clean and maintainable code. In the end, humans are the ones maintaining the code. Here is a detailed article on How to write clean code.

As you can imagine, there are many more traits, but these are some essential characteristics I’ve seen in Senior Software Engineers. You don’t become a Senior in a day. Everyone has a different journey and timeline. But these traits will set you up for success.

To recap the five traits again:

  • Planning before Coding
  • Continuous Learning
  • Time + Task Management
  • Collaborative Mindset
  • Attention to Detail

As much as I’ve enjoyed writing this article, I would enjoy hearing your thoughts even more. So, add them below in the comments, and let’s start the conversations!

P.S. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, connect with me on LinkedIn! 🎉

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Top comments (12)

_ndeyefatoudiop profile image
Ndeye Fatou Diop

Very nice article! I would also add a focus on impact : always working on the most impactful project :)

alirezace profile image
Alireza • Edited

Nice, focus on the impact of tasks and doing meaningful tasks(the task that have impacts on revenue or user experience) is very important

jenesh profile image
Jenesh Napit

Great point Ndeye! Working on impactful projects will get you seen and make you an impactful engineer naturally, haha.

latobibor profile image
András Tóth

I would add "Don't waste time on the wrong thing" which means "discuss the feature in-depth with designers/product managers before starting to work".

This is an attitude about participating in feature creation as a partner, instead of just doing what they say.

jenesh profile image
Jenesh Napit

Spot on. Team work isn’t about taking orders, everyone should have the safe space to voice their opinions. But it’s also up to the developer to speak up and add to the communication.

bigboybamo profile image
Olabamiji Oyetubo

Would you consider the ability to teach others also as a trait?

jenesh profile image
Jenesh Napit

Yes, this is a great trait, but it is not a primary one you should focus on. Your technical skills and traits will be more to get to Senior. Along the journey, you'll have opportunities to teach your teammates and maybe even the broader org.

Teaching what you learned is a good trait and will make you a knowledgeable person in the whole org.

bigboybamo profile image
Olabamiji Oyetubo


adesoji1 profile image


melvinedoja2020 profile image

Nice point man!

wilko9 profile image

as some one who is currently a junior developer, this is quite a good list of things i should work on to become a senior developer

jenesh profile image
Jenesh Napit

Thank you and best of luck in your career!

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