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 333: Unsure about management and I shall decline the offer


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I have been at my job for 5 years since I graduated college. I love who I work with and what I do. My question is more about the future. I have a family now and I love my work/life balance and limited meetings as an IC. I used to confidently say “I want to be a manager and eventually a CTO.” Now I am less sure.

    I would love to help people achieve their goals, but I love coding and do not want to give that up. The thing I love the most outside of coding is bringing engineers together. I am in charge of a monthly meeting for BE engineers to share what they work on. I am good at getting engineers to show up to events. I have hosted other demos and events and potlucks that even the most quiet, introverted engineers show up and have fun.

    What options are there for engineers who love coding and want to have a bigger person impact, but are not 100% sold on being a people manager?

  2. I recently interviewed at a large tech company. I did three interviews at the remote “onsite” and did well in two of them but flunked the system design one. Since I was interviewing for a mid level position, I feel like I missed some things that are inexcusable. I’m a very growth and career oriented person so I’ve been doing my due diligence and have been heavily studying system design concepts since. I haven’t received a response yet but I expect a rejection and I do think it would be fair, given my SD performance. However, if they miraculously come back to me with an offer, I would decline it, because this would mean their hiring bar is low and that’s not the level of colleagues I’d like to work with. I know this sounds very self righteous and so I’d like to hear your thoughts on it, since you guys are always very insightful.


Show Notes

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Episode 332: Layoff + baby survival and 18-year-old CS graduate


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. My company recently had a big layoff - about 40% of engineers are gone. My job is safe (for now). About 6 months ago, I was promoted to a “Staff”-ish position that I’ve been really enjoying and looks great on my resume if I hold it for a good length of time.

    Besides just enjoying my job, I’ve just moved house and I have a baby on the way, so I’m highly motivated to have some stability (and get paid parental leave.)

    My gut says give it the 9 months to see how it all plays out - but my brain thinks my gut is an idiot. Interviewing while taking care of a newborn for the first time feels like an incredibly difficult thing to do and the job market may not be getting better.

    Do you have any advice for how to navigate this situation?

  2. Big fan of the pod! How should I approach being slightly younger than my peers at the workplace? I graduate in December with my bachelor’s in CS but just turned 18 a couple of months ago. I’m actively interviewing at big tech companies and plan to start working as soon as I graduate. Should I avoid the topic or would it be completely inconsequential for my peers to be aware of my age? I’m looking to move up the ranks quickly, and can imagine many developers wouldn’t love knowing their manager is in their early 20s. For what it’s worth as well, I haven’t been open about being slightly younger in my university setting, as early on I noticed professors didn’t respect my contributions as much when they were aware of my age. What’s your take?

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Episode 331: Prickly ticket and title downgrade


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Listener ninjamonkey says,

    I am a new grad who is half a year into the role now at a very large company. Recently, a senior engineer on my team asked me to create a ticket for an infra team for a problem with a service. I provided logs and steps to reproduce the issue and did a health check before submitting.

    Right after, the manager of the team put me into a group chat with their team, asked why I created the ticket and told me to start doing my job and they can’t debug for me.

    From these interactions and comments on the ticket, it feels the infra team will likely not work on the tickets I report or de-prioritize them. This has left me discouraged and hesitant.

    I will have to do lots of this kind of infrastructure work in the future. Additionally, one of the goals my manager set for me is to work with more external teams for the upcoming year.

    What do I do here? Do I tell my manager about these interactions? Do I tell my team lead, staff/seniors to swap out for different kind of story?

  2. I work for a small startup. I was the first employee other than the 2 founders.

    Being the first developer hired, naturally means I have the most knowledge about our application. I also have good organisational skills, which has led to me becoming and being referred to as the “Lead Developer”.

    I have recruited 2 of the 3 new developers, and have trained both of them and got them up to speed.

    At first I was pleased with the progression and was keen to grow into the position, and told the founders so.

    Since then, I have changed my mind, I don’t want to be the lead - due to the following:

    • The communication is absolutely pitiful. Any questions we ask of the founders we get about a 30% reply rate no matter the form of communication.
    • We get poorly defined tasks and requirements
    • The CTO will just blast through some of our features over the weekend and say here I fixed it for you

    I don’t want to quit my job (just yet… its a comin though).

    I have actually discussed the above points with them, but I know these 2 founders will never change their ways.

    How do I tell them I just want to go back to being an Individual Contributor like my Employment contract states?