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 316: Skills reboot and quitting the perfect job


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hi! I have been a software engineer at a very small company for 10 years. We write desktop products and single server products - I don’t have experience with scaling systems or the latest & greatest Javascript frameworks. I would like to move to a company where I can learn and grow, using a more modern stack. My coding skills are great, but it seems like I just don’t have the experience many companies are looking for. With 15 years total experience I am too junior for senior positions, and too senior for junior positions. I’m feeling stuck and am tempted to quit my job so I can focus on side projects using the latest and greatest tools. Or is there a better way to get unstuck?

  2. Listener James asks,

    How do you know when it’s the right time to move on from an almost perfect job?

    I’ve been a frontend developer for 6 years and spent the last 2 years at a really great company. I have lot’s of autonomy, a competitive salary, excellent stock options, and great job security. But, so far my entire career has been working with the same technologies, and there’s no scope to learn new languages at my current job.

    I was recently contacted by a recruiter, which resulted in an interview and offer for a full-stack role with a stack that would be completely new to me but really excites me.

    I’m worried that never holding development job for more than 2 years would look bad, but at the same time I don’t want to be stagnant and not learning.

    Should I stay at my current job where I’m comfortable, or take a risk and jump into the unknown to develop my career.

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Episode 315: Poor feedback recipient and rubber duck


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Do you have any advice on how to give feedback to people who don’t take critical feedback well? There’s a person who joined my team with the same job title and level as me (senior product designer/L5) more than a year ago, and since then he has shown that he not only lacks a lot of skills to be considered senior but also lacks the self-awareness to see where he falls short and how he needs to improve. There have been multiple occasions in our 1:1s where he has alluded to critical feedback he’s gotten from people on our team (including our manager) and has written it off as irrelevant or untrue, will come up with excuses for his poor performance, and will make off-hand comments about the person as a way to discount their credibility. Overall I feel like this is part of a larger display of narcissist behavior; I’ve noticed that the only time he’ll listen to suggestions is if you make it not sound critical and sandwich them in between compliments.

    Up until now, I (hopefully) have avoided being on the receiving end of his negative comments, but since I’m trying to go for promotion, my manager wants me to give him more guidance and tell him directly the feedback that I’ve brought up to her. Seeing how he’s reacted in the past, I’m unsure how to just start giving him unsolicited feedback and am afraid of what he’ll think and say to others about me as someone with four less years of industry experience trying to give him advice. I’m also afraid that this will damage our working relationship as I’ve seen how despondent he becomes when things don’t go his way. I’ve told my manager these concerns and her response was that it isn’t on me if he reacts poorly to my feedback, but I feel like putting in the energy to give him feedback that he probably won’t even listen to is exhausting and isn’t worth the possibility of him becoming more adversarial towards me. What can I do? Any advice??

  2. I recently joined a new company following the patented space law certified strategy of quit your job. I have a senior colleague who has been there maybe 8 months more than me. Whenever he has a problem, he likes to call me away from my desk and start explaining his entire problem to me. I have no knowledge of the real codebase yet and am not even an experienced programmer as I barely have 2 year of experience. I just stand there and nod and give various quips from time to time to pretend I’m listening. This can last up to 30 minutes and happens numerous times a day. If I say I’m busy he just waits 5 minutes before calling me over again. I cant get any work done because of this. How do I deal with this senior team mate that uses me as a rubber duck. Should I just buy him an actual rubber duck ?

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Episode 314: "That guy" and how to skip level


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hi! Love the podcast and have been listening for a while.

    I have a question about dealing with “that guy” on the team. I’ve been through several teams throughout my career, and every once in a while, I get on a team where there’s always a “that guy” that everyone seems to tiptoe around. They’re the type that would yell and scream to have everything go their way, and they’re typically very blunt to anyone, saying things in a really hurtful way. These people can either be technical or on the product side, but I’ve found it really difficult to work with people like this.

    After working long enough with “that guy”, it seems the common thing people do is just to say “Oh, that’s just so-and-so.” or “That’s just the way so-and-so is.”, which I feel is the only thing you can do, but that just doesn’t sit right with me because it’s incredibly toxic.

    I don’t think the solution is to just fire people like this, but it boggles my mind how so many teams just let this kind of behavior happen because the manager can’t or won’t take any action other than give them a talking to, which seems to just allow the behavior to continue because there are no consequences.

    Have you ever dealt with situations like this? And if so, how do you normally handle it without just ignoring it?

  2. I am a senior FE engineer and I have recurring 1-1s with my skip level manager (manager of my manager) who is the Head of Engineering at the unicorn I work for. I usually ask what is top of mind for them (usually hiring), give feedback about my manager, and get additional feedback on bigger picture things I’m working on (e.g. we’re currently working on metrics to measure impact and value of our design system and other internal tooling). What else would you ask them to make the best use of this time?