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 203: Downturns and conflict

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I am worried it is only a matter of time before the growing pandemic impacts the job market. I work for a young start up, and as of yet I am gainfully employed. But if this goes on as long as some folks say it will, I’m just not sure. I’ve heard there was a software job market crash after the dot com boom. What was that like ? What’s the best thing to do if you get laid off in a market downturn? Wait it out? Look for software jobs? Switch industries, temporarily?

  2. I’m a technical lead on a small team. Two of my teammates are constantly annoyed with each other and I need to know how to talk them down so we can be a better team. Let me introduce them:

    Alice (the names are made up), an experienced programmer, who is slower to catch on, keeps dragging old arguments and old ways of thinking in, works very slowly and in her own vacuum, and often comes across as difficult to work with. Alice constantly disagrees with the team on things like naming conventions and solutions to problems.

    In the other corner, Bob, a 2nd year coder, eager to follow leadership but still learning when to ask for help. He takes criticism constructively, but not from Alice because to him it sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard.

    Alice and Bob constantly bump heads. Yesterday, Bob rewrote Alice’s stored procedure because it was slow and he had some ideas with how to reuse some code. Today it was SQL formatting - Bob’s SQL is ugly, according to Alice, who wants to confront him on it. I suggested we create a style guide to settle that argument.

    This kind of thing has been going on since the team was formed. My question is, what can I do? They both look to me as the leader, and I don’t want to take sides, but we’ve had this problem for nearly two years.

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Episode 202: Can't stand up and new team, new me

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hey Dave and Jamison. Due to a chronic joint problem, I find it uncomfortable to stand for more than a couple of minutes. How do I talk to my boss about sitting during standup meetings? If I change workplaces, when do I talk about it to a new boss? I look and walk just fine, so people usually don’t realize that there is something wrong with me. I’ve already been to the doctors, and there is not much they can do, so I need to soft skill engineer my workplaces.

  2. Hello! I love your show! I am an entry level engineer that had graduated college with a B.S. in Computer Science in May of last year. I was on my previous team for about six months doing mostly documentation and asked for more development work because I didn’t have a lot of experience in hardcore dev work in my past internships. My manager, some of my team members, and the lead systems engineer gave me high props that helped me get onto a new team.

    I’ve been on the new team for two months but I am having a hard time finishing my tasks. I try to do things on my own before I ask for help, but it seems that I’m always stuck or can’t get the code to work in a reasonable time. My team has a strict deadline at the end of March. I have multiple tickets in Jira assigned to me before then.

    When I ask for help, it seems like my team members just finish my tickets for me. I feel like a fraud and it really doesn’t seem like I am delivering. People had praised me for my work to get on this new team, I don’t have anything to show for that praise. How did I even graduate from college with a Computer Science degree? Do you have any advice on my situation?

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Episode 201: Too soon for a raise and management, masters, maybe?

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I started a new job 6 months back and a lot has happened since then. I signed on as a junior dev and have since been given more and more responsibility. Including (but not limited to) deploying and releasing after hours, shared responsibility with the resident senior devs for reviewing pull requests, and aiding in the creation of new processes and overall advancement of our company’s software development process and culture. How soon is too soon to ask for a raise after starting a new job?

  2. Listener Andrew asks,

    As a military veteran of 8 years, I have the opportunity to enroll in a masters program for little to no cost, but I’m not sure what kind of program to choose. I’m a web developer and also serve as my team’s ”Agile Owner” (kind of like a Scrum Master) which I really enjoy. In fact, before I got my first dev job, I trained in Scrum to try to get a leadership role in the software industry and use my bachelor’s in engineering management. It seems logical to continue in that vein and choose an engineering management masters program, but I enjoy being a direct contributor and applying my Agile training without any real responsibility as a manager would have. I sometimes think I should go for a masters in computer science and double down as a technical knowledge worker, but I fear I’d be in way over my head since I don’t have an institutional computer science background. On the opposite end of the spectrum, part of me thinks I should get an MBA like some friends from college to hedge my bets for climbing corporate ladders in the future. On top of that, lately I’ve been very interested in learning more about design. I’m just not sure what to do, and I have a habit of making big decisions with my head instead of my heart which sometimes leads to 8 years in military service which I don’t much enjoy, so I’d love any advice I can get. Thanks! Soft Skills Eng is my absolute favorite software industry podcast.

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