The title of “Soft Skills” suggested to me that this book might be about all the non-technical skills you need to get along at work and with your colleagues. But to my surprise, and to my delight, it turned out to be much more than that. The subtitle of “The software developer’s life manual” is much more apt, as this book lays out a collection of suggestions for you, the software developer, to get the best out of your career and the rewards that come with it.
John starts by outlining the broad choices you have in terms of what type of career you can choose to have. Perhaps you’re happy working as an employee of a company, or contracting or freelancing, or maybe you have a burning desire to be an entrepreneur and want to make it as master of your own venture. The pros and cons of each of these career choices are explored in a refreshingly straight forward manner. Subsequent chapters go on to explore each of these in much more detail, which certainly gave me a good deal of food for thought about my own career journey.
Some really solid suggestions are presented around the idea of creating a brand for yourself. How to get yourself and your talents known to your peers and turn the tables of your career. No longer will you be the one searching for new jobs, new jobs will be searching for you instead. That’s a powerful position to find yourself in. Nothing discussed is beyond the reach of anyone with an ounce of dedication.
This is where the book ventured into unexpected territory. A great deal of time is spent discussing the options that a person has to make sound investments with the money earned from their software development career. Suggestions such as salary negotiations, Options trading, real estate investment, and planning your retirement. Life is much more than a pay-cheque.
The last sections are all about personal health, fitness, and relationships. A proposal to break the stereotype of the lone nerd living on pizza and caffeine by putting forth a set of very achievable things to break the cycle. Wrapping up with arguably the most important topic of all, relationships. As a happily married man who is relatively fit and healthy I skimmed over these sections a little but the general advice looked sound enough to me.
Normally it takes me a few weeks to read a book of this size, but in this case I flew through it in one week flat and I found every opportunity to read ‘just one more chapter’. A really good compelling read that I will be recommending to my fellow developer friends.