It takes more than great code to be a great engineer.

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Soft Skills Engineering is a weekly advice podcast for software developers. We answer questions about all the stuff you didn't realize you needed to know about being an engineer:

  • pay raises
  • hiring
  • going into management
  • annoying co-workers
  • quitting your job
  • meetings
  • micromanagers
  • installing a ball pit in your office
  • and much much more...

For answers to these and other questions, our hosts Dave Smith and Jamison Dance are here to help.

Why should you listen?

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

Jack says:

Not only did Soft Skills Engineering help me land my first gig, I also used your advice to negotiate a $10,000 raise! I love your podcast and will continue to heartily recommend you to everyone I know!

Hdennen says:

Facing a 9 hour drive, I grabbed a bunch of podcasts to listen to. I don't even know what the other ones are. Seriously, this podcast is full of massively helpful and relevant content from two people who are experienced, funny, and insightful.

Saad says:

Listening to Soft Skills Engineering has completely shifted my thoughts on what it means to be an engineer. It’s probably one of the more useful things I’ve gained during my time at Amazon. It definitely helped me grow, and I’m totally indebted to you for that.

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Recent Episodes:

Episode 111: Dogma Rehab and Getting a Co-worker Fired

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hello Jamison and Dave. 💕 your show! 👏

    I have been a C# dev for 7 years. Last year, I learn Erlang. I fell in love with functional programming. After that I learned Elm and oh boy… I had never dreamed a compiler/computer could do so much work for me, preventing so many mistakes that would otherwise require an unholy number of “unit tests”.

    The thing is I can no longer find satisfaction with any job. I love to write software, but at some point I became almost dogmatic. I abhor more and more the discipline it takes, in certain languages, to make my code be as pure and testable as in an FP language.

    I had to do so much un-learning, that now I feel that I am refusing to un-un-learn all these different ideas and paradigms and just go back to making the tests happy.

    I seek your humorous words of wisdom on how to find contentment with my job again, without looking at a language and dreading it.

  2. I have a co-worker, who is pretty incompetent technically. Over the past few years that I’ve been here, he has proved time and again that he is incapable of learning and really grasping how things work. He is able to accomplish basic feature work, but not capable of making good architecture decisions, or why a given framework should be chosen, or how to solve harder problems (I’m not sure how to describe this. But for example, how to build a resilient API client).

    However this person is great at creating slides, and presentations, and JIRAs, so I think management thinks they are ok at their job.

    He’s also a nice guy. I’m not sure how to say, hey you suck at your job. Which is pretty harsh. Or to suggest to someone that he should be replaced.

Episode 110: Team Spirit and Half-hearted Recruiting

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. How do I help foster team spirit in a newly created team?
  2. I work for small startup (fewer than 10 people). My boss wants to hire another developer and asked me to look around for people.

    I don’t feel particularly strongly about this team. I’ve been there for about a year, but I don’t imagine myself working there for another twelve months.

    I don’t want to refer my friends because I don’t want them to join a team I don’t feel good about.

    On the other hand, I want to work with great people. I see how other devs may enjoy working in such an environment, but it’s just not for me.

    In the long run, I obviously want to leave this job, but what would you recommend doing in short term? Is hiring under such circumstances really that different than hiring if I liked this team?

Episode 109: Critical Junior Dev and Introducing New Tools

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I run a small dev team. One junior developer constantly openly challenges things that don’t meet this their preference. As a manager I don’t want to stifle innovation, but need to find a balance on being able to meet business goals on schedule.
  2. I want to add an automatic formatting tool to our code, but my co-worker is resistant to the idea. He started this project and I’m brand new to it. I don’t want to push it too much, but I would really love to use it. I’ve shared with him all the reasons that it would be good, and addressed most of his concerns. I’ve also submitted a PR to show him what it would look like. Also, he is in another timezone 9 hours away, so communication is all on GitHub, Slack, and the occasional video call (if I wake up early). He finally said if it really helps me, then I can go for it, but I don’t think he would like it if I did. Should I go for it? Try to convince him more? Or just drop it?

(Rerun) Episode 35: Attracting Talent and Quitting Responsibly

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We’ve got another re-run this week, as Jamison and Dave both recover from being sick. We’ll be back with a new episode next week.

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. How can I attract talent?
  2. How do I quit without burning bridges?

This episode originally aired on November 15th, 2016.

Episode 108: An Insecure Teammate and Disclosing Past Ratings

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. What do I do about an insecure teammate whose insecurity causes them to lash out at others?
  2. I’d like to change teams within my company, but I’ve had some negative performance reviews in the past. How early should I disclose this to my prospective manager?

Jamison talks about the Khan Academy Engineering Principles, which are great and which you should read.

(Rerun) Episode 40: Office Visibility and New Tech

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. How can I encourage my team to be more visible in the office?
  2. How do I learn new technologies without going through a noob phase?

Episode 107: Silence After Interviews and Newsletter Politics

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Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I recently interviewed for a role I was very interested in. I didn’t get the job,and despite several attempts, didn’t receive any feedback on what I could have done differently. I still really want to work there at some point in the future, but have I taken it too far? Have I accidentally burned all of the bridges before I set foot on them?
  2. I am a lowly SSE that recently started a tech newsletter at my company. One of the senior VPs (let’s call them “E”) sent out an email to the org asking people to reply to a newsletter survey so that their team can be featured. A senior manager (“K”), was upset his team wasn’t featured but I informed him that he didn’t reply to the original survey. I explained to “K” that he can still send me information for the next issue. “K” then replied back with something very condescending and has now made the newsletter a political device. How should I proceed from here?

Episode 106: Working From Home Without Rotting and Meetup Etiquette

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Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Since working remotely I’ve noticed a trend to do things like not leaving the house, growing my beard out to above average length, or not wearing (real) pants. What should I do to keep from losing any/all interpersonal skills?
  2. Is there such a thing as meetup etiquette? When I attend meetups and attempt to initiate conversion with people, I’m hesitant to interrupt people who are in discussion with others. Should I wait, try to join the discussion or just barge in on the conversion?

Episode 105: Interviewing for Management and Annoying Noises

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Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I’ve been a software engineer for 13 years and would like to apply for a management role. I’ve never managed before. How do I apply for a job as a manager without managerial experience?
  2. How do I deal with annoying noises around my desk? One neighbor listens to loud music. Another one pops the bubbles on his bubblewrap (to calm himself obviously but also infuriate me). Please help =)

Episode 104: Interviews With VPs and Hiring a Tester

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Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I went through the interview process, and as last step I had an interview with the VP of engineering. At the end of interview he asked if I had any questions for him. I didn’t know what to ask. What do you ask?
  2. I’m a front-end web developer on a SCRUM team. Our Product Owner is also our tester, but she has a very busy schedule and she hardly has any time to test anymore.

    My team thinks we need a second product owner, but I think we should hire a dedicated tester to help the PO. How do I convince my team and my manager to hire a tester instead of a second product owner?

    We don’t work with scripted test plans or anything, so I think a dedicated tester would be a huge benefit to our team and our deliverables.