Hard and soft skills for developers coding in the age of AI

While AI revolutionizes software development, it still relies on developers to pilot its use. In this blog, we’ll cover the skills that developers need to have for navigating this new AI-powered coding frontier.


As AI continues to shape the development landscape, developers are navigating a new frontier—not one that will make their careers obsolete, but one that will require their skills and instincts more than ever.

Sure, AI is revolutionizing software development, but that revolution ultimately starts and stops with developers. That’s because these tools need to have a pilot in control. While they can improve the time to code and ship, they can’t serve as a replacement for human oversight and coding abilities.

In essence, AI can reduce mental strain so that developers can focus on anything from learning a new language to creating high-quality solutions for complex problems. So, if you’re sitting here wondering if you should learn how to code or how AI fits into your current coding career, we’re here to tell you what you need to know about your work in the age of AI.

Hard skills are the building blocks of software engineering, enabling developers to translate concepts into functional code.

To implement AI tools, developers need technical skills and soft skills

There are two different subsets of skills that can help developers as they begin to incorporate AI tools into their development workflows: technical skills and soft skills. Having both technical chops and people skills is super important for developers when they’re diving into AI projects—they need to know their technical skills to make those AI tools work to their advantage, but they also need to be able to work well with others, solve problems creatively, and understand the big picture to make sure the solutions they come up with actually hit the mark for the folks using them.

Let’s take a look at those technical skills first.

Getting Technical

Prompt engineering

Prompt engineering involves crafting well-designed prompts or instructions that guide the behavior of AI models to produce desired outputs or responses. It can be pretty frustrating when AI-powered coding assistants don’t generate a valuable output, but that can often be quickly remedied by adjusting how you communicate with the AI. Here are some things to keep in mind when crafting natural language prompts:

  • Be clear and specific. Craft direct and contextually relevant prompts to guide AI models more effectively.
  • Experiment and iterate. Try out various prompt variations and iterate based on the outputs you receive.
  • Validate, validate, validate. Similar to how you would inspect code written by a colleague, it’s crucial to consistently evaluate, analyze, and verify code generated by AI algorithms.

And now, the soft skills

As developers leverage AI to build what’s next, having soft skills—like the ability to communicate and collaborate well with colleagues—is becoming more important than ever.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at some soft skills that developers can focus on as they continue to adopt AI tools:

  • Communication. Communication skills are paramount to collaborating with team members and stakeholders to define project requirements, share insights, and address challenges. They’re also important as developers navigate prompt engineering. The best AI prompts are clear, direct, and well thought out—and communicating with fellow humans in the workplace isn’t much different.
  • Problem solving. Developers may encounter complex challenges or unexpected issues when working with AI tools, and the ability to think creatively and adapt to changing circumstances is crucial for finding innovative solutions.
  • Adaptability. The rapid advancement of AI technology requires developers to be adaptable and willing to embrace new tools, methodologies, and frameworks. Plus, cultivating soft skills that promote a growth mindset allows individuals to consistently learn and stay updated as AI tools continue to evolve.
  • Ethical thinking. Ethical considerations are important in AI development, particularly regarding issues such as bias, fairness, transparency, and privacy. Integrity and ethical reasoning are essential for making responsible decisions that prioritize the well-being of users and society at large.
  • Empathy. Developers are often creating solutions and products for end users, and to create valuable user experiences, developers need to be able to really understand the user’s needs and preferences. While AI can help developers create these solutions faster, through things like code generation or suggestions, developers still need to be able to QA the code and ensure that these solutions still prioritize the well-being of diverse user groups.

Sharpening these soft skills can ultimately augment a developer’s technical expertise, as well as enable them to work more effectively with both their colleagues and AI tools.


Take this with you

As AI continues to evolve, it’s not just changing the landscape of software development; it’s also poised to revolutionize how developers learn and write code. AI isn’t replacing developers—it’s complementing their work, all while providing them with the opportunity to focus more on coding and building their skill sets, both technical and interpersonal.