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Episode 341: Offer rescinded and layoff stuff

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I am an American student finishing my undergraduate degree in computer science in the Midwest this semester. I am concerned about the economic climate of the technology industry. I am doing my second internship at a major technology company this summer (Microsoft). After that I will go to graduate school and try to ride out the storm. I have applied nearly a dozen programs including one year and two year masters programs, and even a few PhD programs (MIT plz accept me). My biggest concern is having my offer rescinded. I thought there might be economic turbulence, so last summer I had my return offer place me in the most profitable and highest growth division of the company. How do lay-off decisions get made on the issue of rescinding offers versus laying off people? How can I reduce the risk of the offer getting pulled? I am working on finding another software engineering internship, but it’s extremely difficult to find any open roles.

  2. Listener Andre says,

    I need a gut check here. I have a senior engineer on my team that does not perform well. He keeps procrastinating on tasks that I know wouldn’t take much effort. I think it would be great for the team and the company to substitute this engineer for someone with more passion. One idea I have is to volunteer this person to my director to be laid off.

    It would be great for the engineer to feed on the potential 3-month severance package.

    Firing him doesn’t seem like an option because he does the bare minimum for his role.

    What would you do?

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Episode 340: Productivity lulls and code review showdown

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. A listener Daniel asks,

    How do I handle periods of time where I am just not productive as I used to be? I’m talking about periods of several weeks. For example, when your kids are ill all the time (daycare fun) or you are down because of XYZ.

  2. How do you turn not really constructive feedback into useful feedback?

    I have a difficult time dealing with PR reviews from a specific colleague. They have a way to push my buttons somehow, it’s like even when they are actually right, the way they approach the subject or how nit picky their comments are just make it hard to take the feedback or start a healthy discussion. It prompts me to become confrontational. I know it’s not good to react like this, but I don’t feel comfortable talking directly to them about it to try to smooth things out. I don’t think its personal as I’ve seen this kind of comments on other people’s PRs too.

    I am aware this might be me being overly sensitive, but its like every time he is the one reviewing my PR I get the feeling of “oh, not this guy again” and need to mentally prepare for his comments. I’d like to find a way to take the core of the feedback that might be useful and kind of ignore the rest that might feel dismissive or opinionated, and I thought you might have some tools for this.

    The main reason I care about it is that this reflected badly on my latest performance review, as I had stellar feedback in general and the only improvement areas were that I should learn how to deal with mistakes or negative feedback better. I am aware it can be a weak point on me , but I know that a big part of that comment from my manager comes from my interactions with this specific colleague.

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Episode 339: Coworker double-dipping and building toxic community

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I think the new hire on my team is juggling multiple jobs.

    On several screen shares, I’ve seen them quickly close IDEs with third party code, browser windows with what look like a third party jira instance, etc. Maybe that’s some open source project, or a jira instance where they’re reporting a bug, but it seems fishy. In the latest instance, this person meant to post a link to the Jira issue they’re working on in our company Slack, but accidentally posted a link to a ticket on some other company’s Jira. I did some digging and this is definitely not a public-facing Jira instance. It’s internal for their employees only.

    Normally if somebody could do both jobs competently, I’d say good for them and they’ve earned both salaries. However, their performance hasn’t been great. We’re still in the onboarding phase and a lot of missteps could be excused by that, but I’m starting to worry that this person’s goal is to offer only mediocre performance at this job (and probably the other one as well) and we’re unlikely to see expected levels of improvement as they continue to get up to speed.

    Am I being paranoid? Should I raise my concerns with management or give it more time to shake out? Is there a clever trap I can set to *prove* my suspicions for sure?

  2. I recently joined a large software defined telecommunication company, only to be surprised that their internal blind space is very quiet and very few ppl are on blind if any, how do I change this ? how do I get ppl to use blind more? without giving away my blind account. quitting my job is not an option due to the economy