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 258: Addicted to scrolling and underpaid with equity


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. Listener “Scrolly McScroll-Face” asks,

    Hi Team! Love the show. Keep up the great work and congrats on 256 episodes!

    I think I’m addicted to my phone? Every time my code goes to build, or something I know I need to wait on, I open my phone and start scrolling. 40 seconds later when the build is done, I’m still scrolling. In between thoughts, I also open youtube in new tab fairly regularly.

    It’s definitely gotten worse while working at home during these times. I’m surely not alone in this slipping of discipline….

    I’ve tried to put my phone in the next room and that has some success, but I don’t always remember to do that. Do you have any tips? Anything you’ve seen while managing folks?

    I love my job and I love the work, so I dont think I’m not engaged enough, and I struggle to see how a different job would engage me more.

  2. Hi I am the under-leveled engineer from episode 240, and I want to provide an update and ask a follow up question.

    I was promoted in this cycle, and because of my shyness I used Jamison’s favorite problem solving technique of doing nothing prior to my review, my compensation in the new level is also underwhelming. Or is it?

    Comparing my pay with some data point on, my salary is slightly below average. As part of my promotion, I have another equity award, and that is also slightly below average compared to the data points on the site. However, I already have an existing equity award granted to me when I started at my previous level. It is unclear to me if the data points on the site have taken into account for an internal promotion vs an offer extended to an external candidate. If I add in the previous equity awards and my compensation in this new level, then my total seems too be way out of band, on the good side.

    Digging into it more, there are other sites and blog posts that talk about things like refreshers and bonuses. These are brand new concepts to me since my previous jobs only pay salary, event the tech jobs in middle America. Could you talk about how compensation is structured in the big leagues?

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Episode 257: Oops I didn't negotiate and really another raise question


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. I’m currently in my first job as a software engineer. Before working full time, I worked at the company as an intern, and during the last few weeks of my internship the engineering manager asked ““We want to bring you on full time. What are your salary expectations?”” Naive me, not wanting to cause any trouble, responded with a very moderate number. They give an offer that was 10% less, but with ““really good benefits,”” so I accepted.

    Just over one year later, I feel like I’ve proven my value to be substantially more than what I asked for, and I know I’m making 10-30% less than my peers. A couple weeks ago, I had my salary review, and rather than the management being open to negotiation (which is what I had expected going in) they just told me ““You’ll be making 4% more this year.””

    After the meeting, I mentioned to my manager that I felt that the raise wasn’t representative of the value that I would be giving the company. He responded that they pay ““Within expected ranges for my job title and experience.”” I was a little hurt by this, because I want to be paid based on the value that I provide, not based on my title or experience. I don’t think I should quit the job, because I get along well with the team, enjoy my work, and they are paying for my master’s tuition on the side. What should I do?

  2. Hear ye hear ye, Gods of podcasts, I have a question for thees! I think my salary is ok, £60k (UK) and I’ve brought up the subject of raises a couple of times with my boss (2 years ago and 1 year ago) - both times I was told I’m doing pretty well but they’ll look into it. So far no sign of a raise but I’m not annoyed, I really like my job and the people I work with are great.

    I’m now on paternity leave and have taken the time to do some interviewing to see what’s out there and keep my skills sharp. Turns out I could earn a lot more! Who knew!? I’m now caught between going back to my boss with these other offers to say ““actually no, turns out I’m not doing great, gimmi more money”” or quitting my job for more money but a potentially worse job… help! How do I say ““more money please or I leave”” but nicely?

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Episode 256: No degree ceiling and reverse whippersnappers


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. Hiya, thank you for the show. It’s very insightful and both of you are pretty charismatic. Without getting too much into details I had a number of difficulties when I was younger which caused me to never finish my computer science degree. I took a job as a Business Intelligence analyst because I needed to move out. Fast forward a few years and I am now an Engineering Manager for one of the biggest companies in the UK - nearly 2000 engineers and around 100.000 employees overall.

    I consider myself incredibly successful for my age, just turned 30. I manage two teams(11 and 4 ppl) that are seen as the top performers in the Data Engineering department, and that is credited to my leadership.

    I’ve always been very self conscious of the degree situation. I’ve tried to finish it online a couple times but I simply can’t find how. I am now being asked to apply to my boss’ position as Senior Engineering Manager, which could mean being responsible of 6 teams of around 10 people average and a sizeable budget.

    I live in constant anxiety from the possibility of hitting a ceiling or being confronted about the degree situation. While I didn’t hide it on the interview process It’s not something I advertise at all but I got to a point where I just don’t know what to do about it. And so that would be my question: What would you advice for someone in my position?

  2. I’m working at a small company where we used to have 2 developers. Both of us had at least 10 years of professional experience and both of us are around 28 years old. A few months ago, our bosses decided to hire 3 new FE devs and all of them come from bootcamp.

    That wouldn’t be so unusual, but all of them are 35+ years old and have families and basically just 6 months of experience. This causes a lot of friction in our team. We’re trying to “mentor” them in best practices and experience we’ve gained over time, but sometimes they don’t accept it, because we’re just too young for them (in one case 10 years younger).

    Do you have any tips how to approach “mentorship” when it comes from younger to older dev? And how to overcome the 10 year barrier?

Show Notes