You’ll see it on every job board whenever you’re applying for a new role as a developer. Alongside engineer roles, there will always be ‘senior’ positions available. But what does a “Senior” developer mean? What makes a developer more of a senior than others? Years of experience? A history of working in lots of organizations? Being able to code with your eyes closed? More gray hairs than you can count? Jokes aside, being a senior developer isn’t just about how many years of experience you have on your resume. Yes, having years of experience does help, but that isn’t the only thing that makes a developer a senior figure. So, what does a ‘senior’ developer mean? That’s exactly the question our CEO at VanHack, Ilya Brotzky, asked on LinkedIn.

Those working in the tech industry have similar opinions. Although at the base of every senior is being technically competent, it’s all about sharing the knowledge and leveling up both teammates and juniors as part of their day to day work. Mentoring a team isn’t easy, but the experience is what helps senior developers boost their team’s skills.

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A Responsible, Knowledgeable Leader

Experience is something you need time to measure and not something you can gauge easily in an interview or a resume. A junior knows how to code but might not be able to solve their challenges alone or in time. A mid-weight developer can code better and solve problems, but they won’t be aware of all the technology particularities or face blockers because of it.

However a senior knows the particularities of technology and have the knowledge to help mid or junior-level developers solve these blockers. That means a senior developer is someone who’s responsible with a wide skill set range, without the delivery of their projects getting delayed while they help others.

The other aspect of being a senior developer is being aware of the actual use of old and new software concepts — and knowing how to use them wisely in work.

Another common misconception? Ego. Many assume senior developers are in it for themselves and believe they’re better than others. That isn’t the case. Senior developers know how much responsibility is for them to develop those under them so that the team can succeed — which means the business can succeed too.

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Achievements and Responsibilities

A senior developer is also typically someone who has one or two achievements to boast about in their career. They might be an expert in a niche subject, or they might have been guest lecturers at talks, events and conferences. In other cases, they know how to coach other developers to improve their coding skills.

Along with this, being a senior developer is being able to showcase skills and abilities in different roles, technologies and situations. Whatever situation they’re placed in, they thrive.

If you’re trying to land a senior role, have you spent time carving out a specialism in one area? What exciting, game-changing products have you worked on? What was your responsibility? When did your team turn to you for your leadership skills? All of these aspects are what separate developers from seniors.

Four Main Qualities of a Senior Developer

You can point to four main qualities that make a developer a senior figure. These include:

  • Technical ability
  • Leadership
  • Experience
  • Mentorship

Let’s dive into them in a bit more detail.

Technical Ability

Every senior developer needs to be proficient in aspects such as programming languages and complex codes. This technical ability is what less experienced developers will lean on when they face problems. It also means a senior can make decisions quicker and overcome complex situations.


A senior developer needs to be able to lead a team while balancing their own workload. They’re responsible for delivery and progression, so less experienced developers know who to turn to when they face complex issues or require support. A senior developer isn’t someone who tries to go at it alone but knows how to delegate and how to get the most out of a team.


Experience doesn’t mean you need to have worked for over 20 years as a developer to become a senior. In some cases, you could have jumped into coding straight after college and established yourself as a natural talent. You might only be with a company for four years, but if you excel in other areas and become a constant figure they can rely on, you naturally build on your experience.


A senior developer knows what it takes to mentor less experienced developers. They’re concerned about their own progression as they are about helping their team progress and develop too. They’re there when the team needs them, can solve issues for them and can guide them to find the answers and turn them into seniors in their own right one day.

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How to Become a Senior Developer

Becoming a senior developer isn’t a box-ticking exercise, but if you’re serious about taking that next step, then here’s a list of what you can begin working on right away.

  • Develop your technical skills.
  • Improve your teamwork ability.
  • Offer to mentor a junior developer.
  • Understand business operations and goals.
  • Improve your communication skills.
  • Volunteer to host a talk, conference or workshop.
  • Fine tune your attention to detail abilities.

A software developer is an in-demand career with organizations worldwide hunting for the best tech talent around. If you’re ready to jump into the world of development or you think it’s time to become a senior, check below how VanHack can help.

Find Your Dream Senior Developer Role With VanHack

At VanHack, we’re passionate about helping the best tech talent find their dream roles in some of the best companies all over the world. Using our free platform, you can create your profile, record videos, complete an English verification test and complete code challenges to stand out from the crowd.

Ready to start your journey to becoming a senior developer? Sign up to the platform today.

🌎 VANHACK, LinkedIn Talent Awards Winner 2021, is Canada’s most respected recruitment company. With more than 1,700 hires, VanHack is on a mission of increasing diversity and creating a borderless world. So if you are a software developer looking for a job abroad, in Canada, the US, or Europe, join VanHack today. 100% free for candidates, plus you will get all the preparation you need when your profile is shortlisted.

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