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 237: Salary vs tech stack and how to quit an ad agency

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. I am REALLY into music. I mostly get paid to listen to Spotify. With this in mind I decided to apply for a new job at a “globally leading audio technology company”.

    The job would be paying a lot more. About 30% more minimum based on the advertised salary range.

    However, I hate the stack being used! I have been given a homework assignment to complete, but it has not been an enjoyable experience.

    I enjoy my current job, however the company doesn’t seem as stable, and their are complications with tax/benefits which i won’t get into.

    So to summarize, should I take the classic SoftSkills engineering advice and quit my job for a sweet pay check and an interesting industry, to suffer the stack?

    Maybe I will learn to love it?

    Any advice?

  2. I’m at my first developer job at an ad agency, and on a regular basis I and my co-workers are working well in excess of the 40-50 hours a week (closer to 60+). On many occasions we work the weekends as well. I’ve worked on websites, a couple of apps within a proprietary system, banner ads, and html emails. I’ve learned as much as I’m going to at this job. There are no code reviews, no training, and no on-boarding. I no longer want to work at the agency, but I can’t afford to just quit my job. Given the perceivable lack of transferable skills(recruiters have said this to me, ie no product experience), what are some of my options? Mind you, I also don’t have a fancy CS or CS-related degree that I can leverage.

Show Notes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knuth%27s_up-arrow_notation http://boston.conman.org/2003/12/02.3

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Episode 236: Making mistakes and Lowball offer

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. Can you talk about making mistakes at work? How do you handle it, how do you frame it when you talk about it, do you try to minimize or be honest about it, how soon is it to pretend nothing went wrong and you’re doing great, etc. Thanks!

  2. Hello there, Huge fan of the show here, I often laugh hysterically listening to it on long commutes and people think I am on drugs.

    I just finished grad school in a foreign country and i am in the middle of negotiating a job offer with a company whose field of expertise is my passion. All seem to be going well and i have a feeling that the company is hugely interested in me. HOWEVER when we arrived at the salary subject i found that WAN… WAN… they want to pay me a fresh graduate salary even though i have 3 years of part-time and 1 year of full-time development experience abroad; i know their decision is not based on my skills as i did not even have to do a technical test (we mainly talked about the tools i used in the past and the work i did related to that field and it was convincing enough).

    As i see the situation, I have 2 options of either take their offer and use it as a learning experience before switching to a well paying company or say No and go on Vettery?

    Let me know what you would do in my case. Merci

Show Notes

Patrick McKenzie’s article on salary negotiation: https://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

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Episode 235: Bus factors and toxic time bomb

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. I work as an IC in a team which owns 3 very different and large parts of the system. Our team is 4 experienced engineers and 1 intern. Historically each person was assigned to a single part and, as you might expect, we have a bus factor problem. With this layout we’re making as much progress as possible and it helps us to compete on the market but creates a dangerous situation if someone would decide to leave (spoiler: I will).

    What would you do if you were IC, team lead or a manager in such a team? We’re already exceeding headcount so it’s not an option.

  2. I am a developer with 1.5 years of experience, and was put on a greenfield project to rapidly develop a new application. We have a contractor that came onboard to help with the process. On the very first day of meeting this person I noticed their propensity to not allow anyone else to talk and interrupt.

    Fast forward several months and this person has really become a micromanager, they’re requesting the source files from our UI contractor, they got another person kicked off the project because they didn’t like the changes they were making interfering in their development process, they have constantly hoarded all the real dev work and work frequently until 9pm.

    I have voiced my concerns to the PM, mainly about the bus-factor, since layoffs are likely coming and this person likely won’t be converted.

    At this point I am just tuning out on this project. I do the scrap issues the contractor basically doesn’t want, but I am seeking learning opportunities elsewhere within the company and have nearly zero interest in the project which I see as a ticking time bomb.

    What would you recommend? I could potentially escalate the issue to the manager of our team but I basically see working with this individual as toxic and the PM as autopiloting to the finish line.

Show Notes

https://www.computerworld.com/article/2534312/the–640k–quote-won-t-go-away—-but-did-gates-really-say-it-.html - apparently the bill gates quote is apocryphal