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 261: Anxious about work and senior imposter

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. Hello, I have been working as a software developer for 10+ years now and recently took a job at a non-technical company.

    I was recruited to craft a web app for this company and thought they had an idea of what it means and the changes it may require.

    I am the only developer on the project. I feel like, either I’m not communicating well/at all, or they just simply don’t care about the work they recruited me for. I don’t have a good work/life balance since I’m always anxious when I receive an email from the company fearing someone will complain about the quality of my software. I feel isolated and unable to show how my work positively impacts the company

    Since I know my work is not perfect, I feel like I should not complain at all and just make my software bug-free. I’m doubting my abilities and starting to think I actually don’t know anything about Software Engineering.

    Because the company is non-technical, do I have the right to say that my work is that essential? What should I do so I don’t feel like crap every morning before going to work?

  2. In your last episode, you brought up a listener question about a developer of eight years accepting a senior developer position. I’m in a similar boat, but with far less experience. How much less? Well I’ve worked as a developer only for THREE. This is by no means a flex, but I’m kind of worried that I’m in over my head. There was little due diligence on my new supervisor’s side, so my trepidation is that I’ll be two/three months into my new job and they’ll look at my perf and see “this kid is not a senior at all”. I know, the classic imposter syndrome. I’ve been straight forward with my new supervisor about my experience level—or lack thereof—and they seemed not too worried about it. Do you guys have any advice for me going into this? What can I do to maximise this opportunity I’ve been given this early in my career? Love the show!

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Episode 260: Pay cut after hired and new job ramp-up

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. Hey guys! I’m a long-time listener and like many of your other listeners have listened to each episode!

    Until now I didn’t have anything to ask, however, I have a story to tell and I was hoping for your opinions on this. Someone I know is a somewhat junior dev, they left their first job for a new job that had better pay. They were pretty good at negotiating a good salary, while still being transparent about their work history. But a few months ago management said they were underperforming compared to other coworkers and their pay would have to be cut. At first, they said at most it would be 10%. However, it ended up being 23%, which way less than even their prior job. Needless to say, they’re taking the softskills option and looking for a new job. My question is how commonly does this happen, and what are some telltale signs that this could potentially happen? Thanks for your time and a have great week!

  2. I’m 8 years into a career in software engineering and I just accepted a senior engineering position at a well respected tech company in Silicon Valley. While I believe I am qualified for the position, it will be a big step up for me in terms of the caliber of engineers I’ll be working with as well as the overall scale of the system compared to my previous jobs. The standards of engineering and general productivity will likely be higher than I am used to, though I’m excited to level up. I’m not looking for advice about my specific situation, but I’m curious: what are your guys’ priorities during your first days, weeks or months at a new but senior-level job, to ensure you hit the ground running and set yourself up for a successful tenure at the company? Anything you used to do that you don’t anymore? Any common mistakes you see engineers make when they join new teams?

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Episode 259: Moving up to meetings and will remote work stay a thing?

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. This question came with a delightful ASCII-art diagram that I will now dictate as follows: “pipe space space space space” JK

    TLDR: I want to move up the ranks but I’m not sure what might await me… except meetings. What should I expect? And how do I get there?

    Too Small, Want MOAR! I work in a big enterprise as a Tech Lead in an ““agile team””. So day-to-day I focus on getting our team to build the current feature we’re meant to be building (eg by helping other devs, attending meetings, and sometimes writing code). The next step for my career would be what we call an “Engineering Lead” but I’m having a hard time figuring out what that role actually is and our “EL” is so slammed with meetings I’m afraid to take any of their time to ask… SO - Dave & Jamison, can you enlighten me? What might the goals and life be of someone at that level and how would someone who still codes every day(ish) start figuring out what to do to get there?

    P.S. It’s taken me about 4 years but I’ve finally managed to listen to every single SSE episode! (I have a kid, binging podcasts isn’t possible for me). P.P.S. In an interview recently I was asked ““What’s the most valuable piece of advice you were ever given?”” to which I replied ““To negotiate for better benefits in job interviews, got it from a podcast called ‘Soft Skills Engineering’””. The interviewer thought that was cool, subscribed to your podcast during the interview then REFUSED TO NEGOTIATE ON ANYTHING! >:(

  2. Living in a small town my options as a software engineer have been limited to working for one company straight out of uni for 7 years. Wanting to develop in my career, and knowing you have advised others in the past to move on from their first job out of uni. What is your opinion of seeking out and switching jobs into remote work? Will this provide the same development value found in a traditional job switch, especially after the impact COVID has had on the way companies see remote work.