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 221: Current boss reference and getting paid to do nothing

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. I’m in the process of quitting my job. I’ve been a developer here for a few years and made amazing friends. I love the people here but I am looking for a new challenge and a pay increase.

    I was discussing my references for the new role with my partner and she said I should ask my current manager. I stopped hard in my tracks and said “absolutely not.” She works in healthcare and said she wouldn’t get a job unless her old manager gave a good reference. I dismissed this as not applying to software engineering. But the thought has stayed with me.

    Would use your current manager as a reference? Am I wrong to not do this? At what point do you tell your current manager your looking to leave?

    My manager does not know anything yet and I thought it would be “mean” to tell him I’m leaving and also ask for a reference. I do believe he would give a good reference though.

    What are your thoughts?

  2. Hey guys,

    Should I stay at a job where I get paid to do nothing?

    I took a new job as a data scientist a few months ago and since COVID-19 blew up I have had absolutely nothing to do at my job. I’m supposed to be working remotely but our team doesn’t get a lot of business and we’re mostly keeping a facade of being busy with “internal projects” and “training”. This was nice for the first few weeks but at this point I’m concerned about my career development.

    Also, the job is more business-oriented than I expected while I would rather focus on building things. I would like my next job to be a machine learning engineer or a software developer role in some other domain. I’m worried that my “hard” engineering skills are deteriorating with every passing week.

    All of this is made more difficult by the disturbed job market at the moment and the fact that if I stay at my role for another 7 months, I will receive a sizeable retention payment.

    What should I do?

    I love the podcast. Keep up the great work.

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Episode 220: Premature leadership push and credit and status

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. Hello,

    I know you said you don’t read the compliments on air most of the time but this podcast is great. I just found it a few weeks ago and I love the positive fun approach to question answering. It has really made me think about software engineering outside of the ““make code do thing”” box.

    Anyway, the question: I have been at the same company for 4 years. It is my first job out of college. I have ended up working in so many different languages and frameworks I don’t remember them all. I guess that’s just how things go. Recently I have been selected to take on a scrum master role and I feel I am quickly being groomed for management.

    That was never really my goal. I wanted to build a depth of knowledge and always have my hands on code.

    Will taking on these kind of roles hurt my chances at future technical roles? Am I dooming myself to managing spreadsheets and Jira tickets until I retire? Will I only communicate in Dilbert references?

  2. My teammate frequently gives status updates or fields follow up questions about work that was mostly done by someone else. I am pretty sure they do this to be helpful not to claim credit for all the work. I just wish I could speak up about the work I contributed primarily to before they do so on my behalf. I wish it didn’t bother me since we are one team and I would rather focus on the progress of the team rather than receiving credit.

    How should I respond to these situations in a way that allows me to not get bothered emotionally and also do what’s best for the team?

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Episode 219: Remote crickets and Manager Careering

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. I took the cult’s advice and quit my job at a start-up!! Now I’m at a big company and the pace of work is REAL different.

    In my previous life, if I asked a question, I would get an answer within the minute, or at the most, within the hour.

    At my new gig, the response time on Slack can be 6 hours, and pull request comments so far are never – after a day has passed, I just send a Slack to ask for a response to the PR comment. I’ve noticed that if I schedule a Zoom call I have the best chance of getting a hold of them, but a video call sometimes feels like overkill.

    I realize it’s due to my coworkers/manager being super busy, so I try to make my questions short, sweet and infrequent.

    Still, I’m now missing deadlines because I can’t get an answer. How can I get my coworkers’ attention so I can do my work and meet my deadlines?

  2. Engineering Managers support growth of their direct reports. Once you become a manager, it’s expected to own your own career development. How much should you expect your manager to support you in that?