It takes more than great code
to be a great engineer.

Soft Skills Engineering is a weekly advice podcast for software developers.

The show's hosts are experienced developers who answer your questions about topics like:

  • pay raises
  • hiring and firing developers
  • technical leadership
  • learning new technologies
  • quitting your job
  • getting promoted
  • code review etiquette
  • and much more...

Soft Skills Engineering is made possible through generous donations from listeners. A heart with a striped shadowSupport us on Patreon

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Recent Episodes

Latest Episode

Episode 212: Turnover and self-inflicted complexity

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I’ve been working at a big software company for two years. Since joining, 10 people have left my team, which is more than 50% of my team. Usually it’s the experienced developers who leave either for a different team, a different role or a different company altogether.

    The latest departure of a peer who I’ve been looking up to as a brilliant developer has been affecting my mood quite strongly. On one hand, I should be glad that I’m becoming a more pivotal member of the team, having moved up in the “seniority chain”. On the other hand, I’ve always believed the saying: “If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room”.

    Should I be concerned about this turnover rate? Is it considered normal? Why am I feeling different about this last departure than all of the previous ones?

  2. I am the tech lead on a team at a large tech company. One of the developers on our team has consistently struggled to meet deadlines and project deliverables. He frequently seems to invent his way into impossibly complex software problems. Additionally, he also seems to lack the ability to focus on a single thread, and tries to tackle diverse kinds of work in parallel. I’ve tried to help mentor and coach him, advising him to stick to one problem at a time and try to raise his hand and has for help before he backs himself into a hermeneutically sealed NP-hard problem — but I haven’t had much success. I wanted to see if you guys had any advice. Thanks a million!!!

Actual study showing actual results that we actually linked in the show notes this episode: https://radford.aon.com/insights/infographics/2017/technology/q1-2017-turnover-rates-hiring-sentiment-by-industry-at-us-technology-companies

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Episode 211: Biorhythm and coworker roommate

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hi there Dave and Jamison! I am a tech lead in a small team of 5 people. 4 of them start working at 10-11 AM and one of them likes to start working at 1-2 PM. This person is me. Due to my biorhythm I feel I am the most productive at this time, and I also like to do some of the non-work-related stuff in the morning.

    Nobody in my team has any objections but as a team lead I feel guilty because it often happens that I block someone with my work schedule. I’m trying to do as much as I can to unblock everyone - distributing tasks in the evening, making it clear everyone knows what to do - but that’s not always helpful so it usually turns out that I am stopping my morning tasks to have a call and explain something or have a text conversation. Tbh it irritates me very much :D

    Should I feel guilty? As a tech lead, am I responsible for working at the same time everyone does?

  2. Hey Dave and Jamison! I love the show, I’ve listened to every episode and your advice has helped me a TON!

    I started a new job in a different city a month ago and because of Covid-19 everyone went remote, so I didn’t physically move to that city then. Now there are talks of going back to the office, and one of the developers on my team is also looking for a place to live so we started talking about rooming together.

    It seemed fine to me but then I realized I’d be spending almost ALL of my time with this person who I have not even met in real life yet.

    Do you think this is a good idea with a lot of convenience or a recipe for disaster? Have you ever lived with a co-worker? Any advice would be great.

    Thanks!

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Episode 210: Study time and caring less

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. My question is regarding studying and learning new material. Before I got my job as a web developer, I was studying at least 2 hours per night, but now that I have the job (been in the job for 2 years), I want to come home and relax. How much time do you spend reading about new technology or working on new projects? Do you do it while at work or at home at your own time? I plan on getting a new job in the future and I feel I need to start studying again. I need to refresh my skills on different algorithm questions. My GitHub is empty because I haven’t worked on new projects since I got the job. Should I worry about that? How much studying should I do for future interviews? Do I need to listen to hard skill engineering podcasts to be up to date on new technology? If I’m not doing any of these already, does that mean I’m not passionate enough and I won’t do well in this career?

  2. I just had a 1:1 with a junior engineer I’m mentoring. He mentioned that he has difficulty compartmentalizing work from his personal life (for example, even when he’s not working, he can’t stop thinking about his code and edge cases and possible bugs missed). Got any life hacks to help him care less?