Software engineers are said to spend more time learning in their careers than any other profession, starting out at a junior level and then, following their accumulated experience, may progress from a mid-level to becoming a senior software engineer.

Whether you’re already in the tech industry or are wanting to pursue a career as a developer, there are several questions that you may be asking yourself - What is a senior software engineer? How do you progress in your career? What skills does it take to advance up the tech career ladder?

We’ve made it easy for all the developers, coders and programmers who are looking to upskill, or are simply curious - here’s our guide on how to become a senior software engineer:

What is a senior software engineer?

A senior software engineer is not just another title, but more about the ability to be able to bring a magnitude of experience and benefits to a company.

An integral part of any business, and development team, senior software engineers are also quite often referred to as the ‘backbone’ of the team - which is why they’re in high demand!

Why? Senior software engineers possess many years of experience, between 4 - 10+, and often have a niche set of skills. But, ultimately, it’s not all about the tech you’re proficient in - if you can’t communicate well with your team then the role might not be suitable for you.

To sum up - in a senior position, you’ll know how to solve difficult technical problems and be able to share your skills and experience with the wider team to help coach and mentor those in junior-mid level roles.

How to become a senior software engineer

- The tech industry is a tough market and constantly evolving. You need to keep up with the times and evolve your skillset as technology also evolves. Learning can be in various forms, but most developers participate in meetups, hackathons and even webinars to broaden their knowledge. Get to know and understand the mechanisms behind the technology to aid in the projects you work on.

- Choose a path and stick to it - it’s all well and good trying to learn many languages, but most companies are specific in their tech stacks, so it’s better to be an expert at one than not so good at many!

- But, more importantly - don’t keep your knowledge to yourself. As a senior software engineer, other developers in your team will be looking up to you as a mentor and coach; share your knowledge and help others to progress in their roles and dedicate time to exploring other fields such as team management.

How to find senior software engineer roles

From the onset, and throughout your tech career, you might have a dream company that you want to work for. However, the tech industry is very competitive and finding that dream role can be like finding a needle in a haystack. We’re changing this concept.

To begin your next career search, focus on tech-specific job boards like Haystack, where techies are the ones who hold all of the cards. Discover hundreds of companies that are looking to expand their dev teams, but it’s important to then take your time to research the ones you like the sound of. You might really want to work for a specific company, but are you a good cultural fit? Do you like the way in which they work?

Once you’ve found a company that you like the look of simply add to your haystack or get applying. And remember, senior software engineers are in high demand. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t land a senior position instantly, repeat the process until you do - you'll gain valuable experience and it's all practice.

Lastly, be prepared!

It can be daunting to receive an invitation to interview for a senior role, especially if this is your first one, so preparation is key ahead of any interview. Research the types of skills and qualities that a company will look for (although this should be highlighted in their job description). Are there any particular hard and soft skills required?

We’ve taken the time to compile a list of some of the most common senior developer interview questions - check them out.

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