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 241 (Rerun of 184): Indispensable and IT cold war

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. How do you quit when you’re indispensable to the team?

    I am the lead developer at a startup. I have a small team of 3 developers under me. I am essentially the “person who wrote all the code”. I have an offer from another startup for more money and more percentages of the company and they want me over there asap.

    I’m afraid to quit this startup as I fear that it’s not yet at a place where it could survive without me. I realize that sounds super egotistical but unfortunately I don’t have a successor ATM and none of the other developers are at a level where I could potentially train them to be my successor in the time frame I have with the other offer.

    The other sticky thing is that the current startup probably doesn’t have enough money to hire someone at my level for what they’d actually be worth. I, and the rest of the team, are severely underpaid, as this is a bootstrapped startup. Love your show, would love to hear your guys’ take on this.

  2. I recently interned at a local factory to help clean up some broken 20 year old databases. After remaking them, I quickly became a rising star and word spread fast of my aptitude. I was offered a full time salary position, in which I was able to negotiate for some special privileges and a cool title: software engineer.

    I am having an awesome time building little tools for various departments while learning different languages. I’ve been very fulfilled with the projects and recognition I’ve been getting, there’s just one problem: the IT department absolutely despises me. They see my sole existence as an affront to their entire structure. I am a part of the engineering team and work very closely with product and process engineers, which is apparently hurtful to their ego.

    Lately, IT has been actively obstructing every project I work on and refusing many requests, sometimes with obviously false excuses. I do not have admin privileges, I have limited internet access, I’m not even allowed to have my email password. It’s at a point where I start getting serious anxiety when I need to see IT (e.g. to install a framework or IDE extension).

    How can I navigate these awful encounters without letting it harm my view on the rest of the job? I am feeling like I need to wage war but I want to retain my golden boy status.

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Episode 240: Under-leveled in the big leagues and pushing back

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. I became a software engineer 4 years ago after graduating from a bootcamp. I then worked a few software jobs in middle America. About a year and a half ago, I got a job in a well know tech start up and moved to a big city with heavy software/tech presence.

    Before I moved, I suspected I was good at software engineering, and after working in this tech startup “in the big leagues”, I confirmed my suspicion by quickly becoming the go to engineer for the team. I just finished a project that delivered a major tech component of our core system, and received lots of kudos.

    Because of this I suspect I was mis-hired for my current level; this is the first job that I can compare myself with more than 10 software engineer peers, and evidently I am above average. I used to tell myself I was not that good because I didn’t work at a “real tech company.” I am pretty certain I will get promoted in the next cycle, but how can I land my compensation to be above average in the pay band as well? Should I share my feeling that I was mis-hired in my current position?

  2. How do I push back the work I do not really want to do while still being a team player? My manager assigned me a project that I do not really want to work on and when I try to push back, he said he finds me the best person that suits this. I ended up doing it since I want to be a team player, but I don’t believe it will benefit me in the long term in the team. How can I push back to my manager in other occasion in the future? Thanks for your podcast, it has been very amazing.

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Episode 239: Hustle and patents and toxicity

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. Really love the podcast. Keep it up! I’m in a senior role at a software company and have been here over 5 years. I have come up with a SaaS product idea after finding a problem in my company’s engineering process and started working on it. It solves a niche problem in general software development so it isn’t related to my company product. I would like to use this product at my current company both to help me manage the technical issues at my current company and to help validate and grow the idea.

    Should I have any concerns with what I’m doing? Can my company claim my idea as it’s own? What should I be doing now to protect myself? Any other things I should consider? Does it make sense to validate a new side hustle idea at a company while working full time at said company?

  2. Please help soft skills wizards:

    Junior eng at a huge conglomerate, quit mid-patent process (OK I HAD A PRODUCTIVE TUESDAY A MONTH AGO and I’m pretty good with mermaid.js).

    If they come back with a job offer post-departure, since I am the sole inventor on this patent, how do I properly handle this one?

    My manager was…. extremely toxic and every attempt that was made to move was botched either by CoViD-19 or my chain of command. I don’t think I could feasibly have a positive interaction with my former manager and working under him has had a significant impact on my mental health.

    But…. I loved my work. I loved some of the people I worked with. Sometimes it being a huge conglomerate had its upsides as well: I was able to bend the rules as long as the bureaucracy had prevented someone from implementing the visibility that would have demonstrated the rules were bent.

    If they give me an offer to return as a junior architect I would be very tempted to do so, but would be afraid of being anywhere near my former manager, director or VP.