Unicorns Are People, Too: Re-Thinking Soft and Hard Skills

3d65a0bc911de24fde5e58d84b0276af?s=47 Liz
June 26, 2014

Unicorns Are People, Too: Re-Thinking Soft and Hard Skills

As developers, we tend to value hard skills that can be quantified or measured objectively. Job postings search for unicorns, but we are people first and foremost and being human isn't as easy as programming. While the code comes easily, the soft skills that make us human are complicated and difficult to get right. This talk will explore the danger of neglecting so-called "soft" skills, what we stand to lose by overvaluing technical skills, and alternatives to the hard and soft dichotomy.

Presented at Open Source Bridge 2014 in Portland, Oregon

3d65a0bc911de24fde5e58d84b0276af?s=128

Liz

June 26, 2014
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Transcript

  1. 2.

    SOFT VS. HARD WHAT ARE SOFT AND HARD SKILLS? Cheese

    by Consuelo Elo Graziola, Pillow by Yazmin Alanis, Hard Hat by André Renault, and Mountains by Cris Dobbins from The Noun Project
  2. 3.

    SOFT VS. HARD HIDDEN MEANINGS Cheese by Consuelo Elo Graziola,

    Pillow by Yazmin Alanis, Hard Hat by André Renault, and Mountains by Cris Dobbins from The Noun Project
  3. 4.

    SOFT VS. HARD A PROBLEMATIC DICHOTOMY Cheese by Consuelo Elo

    Graziola, Pillow by Yazmin Alanis, Hard Hat by André Renault, and Mountains by Cris Dobbins from The Noun Project
  4. 5.

    POTENTIAL ALTERNATIVE TERMS WE CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS. Robot

    by William Hollowell and Talking by Ed Gray from The Noun Project
  5. 11.

    MANY EMPLOYERS ACTIVELY SEEK OUT SOFT SKILLS IN PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES,

    MAKING THEM NEAR REQUIREMENTS FOR SUCCESS IN THE WORKFORCE.
  6. 12.
  7. 13.

    Soft easy to mold, cut, compress, or fold; not hard

    or firm to the touch. ! having a pleasing quality involving a subtle effect or contrast rather than sharp definition.
  8. 16.

    “SOFT” IMPLIES THAT IT IS LESS IMPORTANT BY USING A

    WORD THAT ALSO MEANS THINGS LIKE “GENTLE”, “DIM”, AND “PLEASING.”
  9. 17.

    I AM NOT A STUFFED ANIMAL. I AM NOT A

    CHEESE. I AM NOT A FLUFFY PILLOW. ! I AM A PERSON WHO LIKES WORKING WITH OTHER PEOPLE.
  10. 20.

    HARD solid, firm, and resistant to pressure; not easily broken,

    bent, or pierced. ! requiring a great deal of endurance or effort.
  11. 23.

    THESE SYNONYMS SOUND MORE LIKE A LIST OF PERSONALITY TRAITS

    FROM A DATING SERVICE THAN A LIST OF JOB REQUIREMENTS.
  12. 24.

    MY SKILLS ARE NOT VIOLENT, THEY ARE NOT STRICT OR

    SEVERE. IT IS NOT GRUELING TO WRITE CODE. ! IT IS MENTALLY CHALLENGING AND REQUIRES TRAINING AND TOOLS.
  13. 25.

    WRONG. OUR TOOLS ARE Tools by Jeremy J Bristol from

    The Noun Project THEY DON’T MEAN WHAT WE THINK THEY DO. WE ARE FORCED TO INFER MEANING.
  14. 26.

    BROKEN. OUR TOOLS ARE Broken Light Bulb by Gregory Sujkowski

    from The Noun Project WE CAN INFER ALL WE WANT, BUT
  15. 28.

    AND SUBJECTIVE, CONSTRUCTIVE ANALYSIS. THEY REQUIRE TECHNICAL KNOW-HOW CODE REVIEWS

    ARE NEBULOUS. A GOOD CODE REVIEW TAKES SOFT AND HARD SKILLS.
  16. 38.

    QUANTIFIABLE Interpersonal Calculator by Luboš Volkov from The Noun Project

    Emphasizes that skills are measurable or immeasurable.
  17. 39.

    TECHNICAL Psychological Brain by Martha Ormiston from The Noun Project

    Gives value to mental effort required for both skill sets.
  18. 54.
  19. 55.

    PROVIDE TRAINING Teacher by Jaclyne Ooi from The Noun Project

    PAIR PROGRAMMING, FEEDBACK, AND CODE REVIEW WORKSHOPS.
  20. 56.

    MAKE OPPORTUNITIES FOR NEW LEADERS ON SMALL PROJECTS AND FOR

    PAIR PROGRAMMING TO REINFORCE NEWLY LEARNED SKILLS.
  21. 60.

    Bye! I’M LIZ. I’m a person (not a unicorn) and

    I like friends! Liz Abinante • @feministy • eabinante@gmail.com