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 266: Switching tech stacks and awkward zoom silence


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. Should I change tech stacks every few years in order to not get pigeonholed?

    Is it a good idea to stick with a tech stack for as long as I can or should I follow the market trend and try to learn another promising tech and then try switching into that?

    Would you advise me to be more of a specialist or a generalist early in my career, and what about later when I’m more experienced? I’m a full-stack web developer who’s just starting out my first job (if that matters)

  2. I love this show so much, I’m even trying your goto advice - quitting my job! But not untill I’ve got another lined up so shhh about it already. In the mean time, I work for a huge agency as a senior(ish) developer and have recently started work with a new team. However, they have issues: no one turns on their camera for video calls, which I’m ok with, but it makes the next bit worse somehow - most say the absolute minimum in response to any questions and offer no opionions / thoughts / ideas. It makes things like sprint retro meetings very awkward. We have a scrum master running our meetings who is clearly struggling to engage the team, I try to hold off to let any of the others answer questions but I always seem to end up picking up the slack. I’ve even started timing how long I’ll let the slience endure before jumping in to answer, I’m now waiting 15 seconds. Have you come accross this before? How can I get people to engage more?

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Episode 265 (rerun of 216): One-on-ones and inter-team power struggles


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. I have a weekly one-on-one with my manager. What should I talk about in them? Things like feedback and career goals become old and repetitive real soon, and I end up discussing current work items. I understand that a one-on-one is my time to ask questions and don’t want it to be a longer daily-standup.

  2. My front-end team mates are in a power struggle with my back-end team mates and my design team mates. They’re intentionally making technical decisions that artificially constrain the choices of other teams.

    For example, design wants a certain interaction for a new feature, and my team says “nope, it can’t work that way, cause the components we built don’t allow that”. Or, they make tickets for the back-end team as in “endpoints have to work this or that way, because our components assume that structure”. This often seems detrimental and confusing to other teams.

    When I push back against my team they are angry. When I defend my team other people are angry. When I try to strike a compromise I feel gross because I usually think my team is wrong. I’ve tried talking with other teams and managers about the problem. I feel gross about that too because I don’t want to point fingers or throw my team mates under the bus. Where should I even start?

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Episode 264: Finger pointing and getting recognition


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. Hi Mr.Smith and Mr.Dance,

    I’m a software engineer at a big software company. I recently learned to self-evaluate and found that I’m really bad at being finger pointed. I am normally an easy-going team player with an open mind. I accept that I can be flawed sometimes, and I would never blame anyone. But whenever someone points their finger at me and says “this bug is caused by YOU!” or more commonly “this bug is caused by YOUR systems!” (sometimes with facepalm emojis or this emoji 🤷), I suddenly become super defensive and frantically try to find counter evidence to prove that it is indeed THEIR system that is at fault, or at least some OTHER systems that is at fault, but definitely NOT MINE. After I cool down for a few days, I regain my composure and realize that what I have done was wrong and not useful to the discussion. This is specifically in the context of informal issue debugging between teams, not strictly a blameless postmortem meeting.

    I think blaming others is not a good behavior and makes the workplace toxic and unproductive. I would like to improve myself (and others). Any suggestions and recommendations?

  2. First of all I have to say a big THANK YOU to the work you’ve been developing, it’s helping me a lot to set my expectations and pave my career path. So, to the question…

    I’m currently working for a large Brazilian fintech and I’m starting to get a little bit annoyed by the lack of acknowledgement. I’ve already made it clear to my managers a couple of times and I always received great feedbacks and always performed “above the expectations” for my level. But in the last 1:1 we had I was a little bit more insistent about it and the explanation they gave me was “we know that our developers are above the average, we know that a Junior here can easily get Mid-level or even Senior in other companies, but we want to be a tech reference in the country and we don’t want to spoil the devs by promoting them a couple of times in the same year”. I understand this ambition but it got me a little bit frustrated. Of course I don’t want to be a mercenary nor a mediocre developer, but if this is the objective they’re aiming they should at least pay a competitive salary. This conversation really demotivated me, it seems to me they just want a high specialized work-force for a cheap price. I really appreciate everything I’m able to learn inside the company, for sure everyone is above average and being there is like being in school and it’s been really cool. But I’m starting to question if this “trade-off” of low pay and high learning makes sense once you’re already in the Mid-level corporate world. I’m pretty sure I can double my salary in the next month if I wanted to - a couple o recruiters contacted me in linkedin and I also made some interviews -, but this “tech reference and always learning” thing keeps bothering me and I wonder how much of it really makes a difference in the long run.