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

A speech bubble

Why should you listen?

Here's what listeners say:

Recent Episodes

Latest Episode

Episode 384: EM missing code and non-location pay


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. A listener named Jay asks,

    Over the past eight years I’ve been promoted from Software Dev to Team Lead and then to Engineering Manager.

    After two years as an EM, it helped me a lot financially, I like what I do and I think I’m doing it really well. However, I have two concerns. First, I love programming and now I don’t have any time other than in my limited free time to do it. I can feel my coding skills atrophying.

    Second, I’m worried that I could only get EM jobs in the future, and there are fewer openings for EMs than for Senior Software Developers.

    Could I go back to a software developer role? Would they even take me?

  2. I work for a staff augmentation company in an African country for a software company in New York. I’ve been with this client for the last five years and I have climbed up the ladder enough that I can access the company financials. I am paid based on my location, which is not much after the exchange rate to local currency. My pay hasn’t increased as I’ve become more effective. Since seeing that info, I don’t feel the need to go over and beyond for this client anymore. The client expects me to be a rockstar developer and ship out code faster they can think of more ways to make money but my enthusiasm has diminished over time and my manager has been notified about it. What steps would you take to ensure you get reasonable pay as a dev earning a location based pay? The staff augmentation company is ran by US citizens.

A smiling speech bubble

Episode 383: In the trenches without writing code and how to close a social skill gap


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I recently started the interviewing for a senior engineering manager role at a fairly prestigious, but not huge (maybe 30-50 engineers) tech company. The job description heavily emphasized the idea of leading as a peer as opposed to just relying on the EM title. I love this approach, but the lead interviewer then disclosed that they don’t want EMs writing production code. This seems like a contradiction.

    Am I naive in thinking so? I certainly understand that taking on a more managerial focus will result in less IC work. However, as a leader I find a ton of value in staying close to the trenches. It allows me to earn the respect of my reports, empathize with their day to day, and sniff out good/bad decisions quickly.

    As an engineer with good softskills, it feels like gravity wants to rip me away from writing code. How do I stop this? Can I? Should I resign myself to a work-life filled with never ending 1:1s?

  2. Hello Dave and Jamison, thank you for your podcast. I have listened to almost all episodes and they provide both educational and entertaining values, you rock!

    I would like to ask you for advice. I am struggling with a problem related to communicating and cooperating with people in general. I have over 10 years of professional experience. I was always a hardcore nerd, sitting alone in front of the computer and programming, focused only on pure technical skills, everything else was unimportant. Most of my career I spent in small companies where I could just spend time writing code and I wasn’t bothered by anything else.

    However, one year ago I started to work at FAANG and now I feel overwhelmed. Technical skills seem not so important anymore. Most of the problems are being solved by talking, negotiating and following up with other teams, participating in meetings and presenting results to management. It stresses and burns me out. I feel it like a waste of time and potential but also I was never a people person, so I am anxious every time I am in a new social situation.

    How could I convince myself that such non-technical skills are equally important as technical skills? What steps can I take to improve my attitude and skills? What would you advise if you had to work with a person like that?

A smiling speech bubble

Episode 382: Mentors for managers and mob programming


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. There aren’t a lot of engineering management growth resources in my company. It’s a relatively small company with about 50 engineers. My manager doesn’t have time to properly mentor me. And I’m not sure I would want him to because I feel like his advice isn’t always the best. Where can I go for management mentorship or other learning resources? Is it worth exploring non-engineering managers on other teams? Or leaning more on my peers? Or should I be looking for outside advice?

  2. A recent episode mentioned awkward Zoom silences. My experience is the exact opposite.

    I recently switched teams at the same company. This new team has a Zoom room open for the entire work day. The first person to start their day begins the Zoom and the last to leave ends the meeting. They do “mob programming” using a command line tool that switches users every few minutes along with all the strict rules of Extreme Programming - a driver, navigator, etc. But they also do everything in groups: story refinement, diagrams, documentation, everything. Live collab, all day, every day.

    I’m one month into this transfer but worried that this isn’t a good fit and that I made a horrible mistake. ALL the other engineers here rave about how this is the greatest thing ever. Am I the weirdo for not liking it? I feel like I am of split-mind to only either speak or type (but not both) and have not yet rediscovered my coding flow.

    Mostly I just wanted to roll a perception check with you: Am I the weirdo for not liking all this collaboration and 100% Zooming, or would this workflow drive most other engineers mad as well? Any pep talk about sticking it out would be appreciated.