Backend Developer Skills: Definition and Examples
Updated 7 March 2023
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Backend developers are responsible for designing, developing and maintaining the inner components, aka the server-side of web applications. They primarily work on the databases, servers and application program interfaces (APIs) that run behind the scenes to make sure that the client-side of a website remains operational. Due to the technical nature of their job role, backend developers need some highly specialised skills.
In this article, we will define and provide examples of backend developer skills, discuss how to improve your skills and suggest how to highlight them during the hiring process.
Related: Backend Developer Job Description: Duties And Requirements
What Are Backend Developer Skills?
Backend developer skills are a combination of technical and soft skills required to perform all backend developer duties successfully. As a backend developer, you should have the technical skills to work with server-side scripting languages, APIs and database management tools. You also need soft skills like communication, problem-solving and creativity to build a successful career in backend development.
Examples Of Backend Developer Skills
Here are some examples of backend developer skills:
To become a successful backend developer, focus on these four technical skills:
Programming and server languages
Backend developers write code that helps build and maintain the technology that powers the frontend side of a web application. That is why they should be proficient in programming languages like Java, Python, .NET, PHP and Ruby. You do not need proficiency in all of these programming languages, but you should know at least one language. Based on your interest area, choose a language you want to learn and master.
One of the essential job responsibilities of a backend developer is to manage a hosting environment. Database management requires in-depth knowledge of database administration and database management systems (DBMS). Developers should be familiar with recovering and stacking data from databases. Also, they create storage solutions in the application database to store a large amount of information. Some commonly used database programs include MySQL and MongoDB.
Knowledge of API
APIs are a set of functions that help create an application by connecting it to the internet and sending data to the server. The server retrieves and interprets the data and performs the desired action on it. It then sends the data back to the application. Finally, the application presents the data to you in a readable format. The entire process happens via an API. For this reason, backend developers should know how to write API codes that create error-free mobile or web applications.
Knowledge of middleware
Middleware is any software on a server that helps to connect the application's frontend with the backend. Backend developers need to know middleware as it controls the flow of information between the database, operating system, application and server. Good middleware increases IT efficiency and enhances business process management.
Related: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples
Here are four important soft skills an employer looks for in a backend developer:
The ability to interact with your colleagues and stakeholders to ensure the final product meets the project's specification requires excellent verbal communication skills. Also, a large part of your work may involve documenting the code or design and writing test cases. This requires mastery of written communication skills. When you document your work, it becomes easier for other developers and quality analysts to make changes as per project requirement.
Related: How To Improve Communication Skills
Backend developers often need to attend meetings with clients and stakeholders to understand the project's requirement. Having active listening skills will help them build connections with clients, win their trust and avoid missing any crucial information.
Problem-solving skills help you become an efficient developer. Backend developers work on a range of tasks like coding, designing APIs and troubleshooting. They spend a large portion of their workday detecting bugs in the code causing the program to break. Backend developers should find solutions to different programming obstacles like debugging code, making revisions to a website without altering the functionality and preventing unexpected website crashes.
Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples
Technical creativity can be useful for backend developers as it helps them design the look of a website and structure the code. Also, they may have to use their creativity to find out ways to structure a database to model complex project requirements. Another aspect of creativity is the ability to write codes that other developers and quality analysts can easily understand.
How To Improve Backend Developer Skills
Here are four ways to improve your backend developer skills:
1. Practise coding
As backend developers write codes to build communication between database and application, you need to practise coding in one of the programming languages like Java, PHP, Python or Ruby based on the job you are applying to. The more you practise coding, the more experienced backend developer you can become. You can practise it using free online software.
2. Learn new programming languages
If there is a programming language you do not have experience in, enrol in a programming language learning course. For instance, if you know PHP but have no experience in Python, enrol in an online Python course. It helps you come out of the comfort zone and you learn a new skill that may be useful in your job.
3. Learn frontend languages
4. Read books
To advance your career and become a better backend developer, read books. You can either read technical books to improve your technical knowledge or read self-help books to improve your soft skills. When you read books, you understand things from a unique perspective, learn from the mistakes of others and can implement the knowledge gained in your workplace.
How To Highlight Backend Developer Skills
To get a backend development job, you should highlight your skills on your CV, profile summary and during an interview. Here are three ways to highlight your backend developer skills:
1. In your CV
In your CV, under the skills section, mention the backend developer skills and your level of proficiency in them. It makes your CV stand out and increase your chances of qualifying for the next round. You can even mention these skills in the experience section of your CV. Regardless of where you mention these skills, include keywords related to the job description. Using keywords is essential because employers typically use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to shortlist candidates and the software does keyword scoring to find best-fit candidates.
You can add the backend developer skills in your skills section in the following way:
4+ years of experience using version control and source code management tools
Strong communication and problem-solving skills
Expert knowledge of database technologies
Excellent coding skills
You can add the backend developer skills in your experience section in the following way:
Migrated API written in ES version 1.9 to ES version 4.x
Developed new and maintained existing applications
Implemented algorithms and solved system-related problems
Delivered projects using agile methodology
Delivered seminars to the team around new backend development approach technologies and workflow
Wrote re-useable test documents to ensure 100% code coverage
Worked in time-sensitive and complex projects
Discussed project requirements with stakeholders to meet project specification
Related: 10 Best Skills to Include on a Resume (with Examples)
2. In your profile summary
Your profile summary is an excellent place to showcase your backend developer skills. Try to use keywords like “Java”, “API” or “SQL” and action verbs to express your proficiency in a particular backend skill. This helps make your profile summary stand out.
When writing your profile summary, use the following example as an inspiration:
“Passionate and creative backend developer with five years of experience designing, building and enhancing .Net web application for EdTech companies. Proficient in SQL, APIs and GraphQL.”
3. In your interview
Interviews help you display your qualities and experience to the employer and gives you a chance to elaborate on your CV. Some employers ask behavioural questions to understand your personality, while some ask technical questions to learn about your technical skills and experience in a similar job role. Questions on technical challenges help you prove your problem-solving and backend developer skills.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.
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