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

Recent Episodes

Latest Episode

Episode 196: "Offshore resources" and ageist layoffs

Download

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hi, thank you for the great podcast!

    I work for a software consultancy as a senior product manager. For 5+ years, our team of 40 designers, developers and QA has designed, built, deployed, and operated a large SaaS platform. We are passionate about evolving the product, know the domain well and managed to improve a lot of processes in the client’s company. We go way beyond “just development”.

    The problem is that the client’s internal staff treats us poorly, especially when it comes to product decisions. As a product manager, I have all the responsibilities of a respective in-house specialist, but almost no power. When I refuse to prioritize a feature that does not make sense based on data and user research, the client’s customer success reps go crazy and escalate it to the CEO. I have seen email threads where internal employees call us “offshore resources”…

    How can I change this situation? I don’t want to leave this job because I really like the product I am working on, as well as the team.

    Thank you!

  2. Connor asks: “I recent round of layoffs at my company has me thinking about my future as a software engineer. Every layoff I’ve been through, the more tenured employees are the ones let go. I also, generally speaking, haven’t seen a lot of older software engineers (50+) in the companies I have worked for. I love programming, but can I reasonably expect to stay employable in this field for the next forty years?

A smiling speech bubble

Episode 195: Ad-hoc promotion and quitting a huge company with Charity Majors

Download

We’re excited to have special guest Charity Majors on the show! Charity is the CTO and former CEO of Honeycomb. She has worked at Second Life, Parse, Facebook, and more. She blogs at charity.wtf.

Dave, Jamison, and Charity answer these questions:

  1. I’ve had the role of tech lead informally for the past two years at a fast-growing tech startup. We were a team of 6 developers, and now we are 16. Recently, we had a department meeting in which the Software Development VP communicated that we have 3 teams and I was the tech lead of two of them. I was surprised. He hasn’t mentioned his decision of splitting the teams nor that I’ve been officially promoted to tech lead. I was expecting a one-on-one where he would “pop the question”: Will you be my tech lead?

    I asked him privately if that meant I would be officially promoted and would have my title changed. He said that he was going to have this conversation with the HR Manager and would get back to me, but potentially.

    He doesn’t spend time on one-on-ones, nor is he very good at managing people although he’s good technically. How weird is this situation? A manager tells his team that they now have a tech lead along some org changes. I haven’t been informed, haven’t had my title changed yet, and haven’t been offered a raise yet.

  2. Hi! I love your show and have been listening to it almost since day one. I was an engineer for about 10 years, and I’ve been a manager for about 1 year, and I love my team. They’re high performers, we have a high level of trust. I also like my boss! But the larger org has some issues, and in time-honored Soft Skills Engineering tradition, I plan to quit. I would like to stay in management. So I have these questions:

    1) My employer is a very large public company. How much should I care about negative headlines and Wall Street’s opinion?

    2) How long should I stay in my role as a manager before looking for a new job?

    3) How do I message this to my team when I leave?

A smiling speech bubble

Episode 194: Leveling up through speaking and negativity

Download

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hey friends, thanks for such an entertaining show, I look forward to it every week.

    My question relates to ‘leveling up’ as a developer. I’ve been getting nice feedback for my work on projects and the blog post updates I’ve been writing along the way. This has been noticed by colleagues, managers and the local meetup organising committees in my city. I have now been asked to speak at a number of events internally and in the community. While I am very flattered they enjoy my writing I am not interested in hitting the local ‘speaking circuit’ and would prefer to focus on building, writing and mentoring without getting up on stage.

    Is it ‘ok’ to say no to speaking when it simply does not spin my wheels or is this a mandatory ‘thing’ I must get on board with to progress my career?

  2. I am a tech lead on a team where, for the most part, people are friendly, optimistic and professional. There is one engineer who is mostly upbeat and has shown real potential but in certain contexts, e,g, retros and the odd technical conversation becomes a crippling black hole of negativity. The person in question is quite young, relative to the rest of the team, has only ever worked at our company, they are well compensated and have great opportunities to work on exciting green field projects, every developers dream right?

    What could I be missing? I don’t want to lose this person but I can’t help but feel that they need to grow in maturity and somehow, despite pointed feedback, that’s not happening here.

    What do you think I should do to stop the chronic pessimism, which I’m afraid if not rectified soon will lead to more victims?

A speech bubble

Why should you listen?

Soft Skills Engineering listeners are awesome. Here's what they are saying about the podcast.

Are you a fan? Say hello on social media!