What skills should one consider developing when deciding to pursue a career in DevRel?
Updated: Mar 8
Or what skills are you focusing on improving?
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I think communication is a skill an aspiring DevRel should have as
DevRel acts as a 'middle-man' between the company and the users.
In a DevRel role, it's essential you get across to users' feedback and in this case, I think communication is pretty much important in this case.
Empathy and authenticity. Developers don’t like to be marketed to, so making sure that you’re being yourself and understanding what it is that they need from a DevRel is very important.
Developers have problems to solve, and DevRel has a possible solution.
That’s the goal is to show them the problem being solved, not making promises about speed, agility, etc. Show the problem getting solved.
Listening is a skill that deserves attention or, really, listening with intention—engaging with a goal in mind more often yields actionable, helpful ideas. Of course, the casual conversation has its place, but it may take a while to discover valuable insight for both parties. Even taking a few seconds at the start of a conversation to anchor to a context can help make the most of each connection.
I think it's a bit context-dependent. You need to do a bit of self-analysis and figure out where your weak points are and proactively try to work on those things. If someone is highly technical but has less experience presenting and/or writing, then you should try to build up those skills. If presenting and engaging with people comes naturally but you have the less technical skill, then focusing on deepening your technical skills makes sense.
Working in developer relations, especially advocacy, requires a wide breadth of skills. To be really good at it, you need to constantly be working on skill stacking: listening, writing, speaking, programming, and explaining technical concepts to different types of audiences are all skills that you need to be building.
So my long-winded advice is to try to shore up your weaknesses. This is also great for storytelling in an interview, it shows you care about self-improvement, you have passion for what you do, and even if you don't perfectly line up with the job requirements, you're someone who's going to walk through walls to level up so you can do the job.
Curiosity and a passion for learning. You won't know everything so you will often have to find answers.
A key piece for me is the ability to learn and then teach. In many situations, you need to be encountering something new before others, learn that to keep ahead of the need, and then be able to create something that helps others learn what you just had to.
Cross-functional relationship building, which encompasses flexibility, curiosity, empathy, and how to reframe communication style and methods to meet folks where they're at!