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 165: I don't play videogames and quarter-career burnout

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I recently joined a startup. After joining I realized most of the engineers are gamers. They play games during the lunch hour, and if we end up having lunch together, everyone is talking about the game that they are playing or some news in the gaming circle.

    As a non-gamer and introvert, I find it different to join in their conversation. How can I join in, or bring the talk back to something else?

  2. I’ve been working as an Android Engineer for 7 years from the beginning of my career. I loved my profession but things started to go not so well with reaching of the senior level.

    Coding tasks became boring because I knew how to solve them before starting. Most of the time I was helping less senior engineers but it didn’t give me satisfaction.

    I tried to solve the problem by quitting my job. I joined a company with a team of only senior engineers hoping that it meant more challenging tasks.

    Things did not improve. Tasks are still boring and I don’t learn anything new from my colleagues because they are around the same tech level as me.

    I don’t think I’m burned out because I still enjoy programming when I need to use my brain for solving a problem.

    I don’t want to move to management because I like coding more than people.

    I don’t want to switch to another tech stack because it means a pay cut and I think that I’ll get bored again in a year or so.

    Is it some kind of quarter-career crisis? Is there a way to be an expert at the field and still like your job?

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Episode 164: Fear of firing and disengaged teammates

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hello,

    First of all, I love the show, thank you so much for the amazing work!

    I always think I’m going to be fired.

    I’m an extremely anxious person so I feel the need for constant feedback and for someone to tell me everything is alright. Minor problems send me into absolute despair. How can I deal with such anxiety?

    I frequently ask my manager during 1x1s if everything is alright and how I’m performing and he almost always says things are going well.

    In our 6-month performance reviews I get more detailed feedback on what I’m doing well and what I can improve. This makes me feel less anxious because I know exactly what my boss is thinking. Even if something has to be improved, at least I know it.

    Are there any indicators I can use to tell if I’m about to be fired or if my manager is happy with my work? I’ve told my manager about my anxiety and that I’d like constant feedback. That has helped, but I was hoping to get more detailed feedback. Preferably this feedback would make me able to tell, in a scale from 0 to 100, how well I’m performing.

    Thank you very much!

  2. Hey Dave and Jamison, love the show your insight.

    I have been having a problem on my team that I hope you can help with.

    We are a team of engineers that have internal customers. It’s a bit of a back end of the back end role.

    The problem is NONE of the other engineers are customer focused. They don’t engage with the real needs of our customer teams. Tickets come in, they do what’s in the ticket as it reads exactly and we end up with requirements getting lost, tickets needing to be reopened and our reputation going down the tubes.

    I have taken it on myself to engage with the customer and help them out. BUT, now I have become a glorified customer service rep and I can’t do much of my own work because I’m passing messages back and forth between engineers who don’t like to talk to their customers.

    My manager says the team needs training and he is going to work on it with them, but this has been going on for months. Should I take the Soft Skills advice of ‘Quit your Job’, or continue being a middleman?”

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Episode 163: Sounding a warning and negative Glassdoor reviews

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I recently joined a new team to help rewrite a batch job whose source code has long been lost. After taking some time to learn the tech stack and the business problem, I realized that the current approach will not let us meet our nightly deadline. Even a very generous back of the envelope estimate suggests that we’ll miss it by two orders of magnitude. I have some ideas on how to maybe fix this… buuuttt…

    I brought my concerns and calculations to the lead project engineer who dismissed them outright. They did not offer an explanation for why I was wrong, even when I asked for one. I started a proof of concept to illustrate my point, but there were some weird conversations that suggested that I should just drop the issue.

    I know how to make a technical argument about my concerns, but apparently that isn’t enough.

    How can I get fellow engineers to at least take my concerns seriously, not just for this project, but generally? I’m only 3.5 years into my career, so is it just a seniority thing?

  2. Hi! I’m a software engineer and I’m currently looking for my next job. It will be my second-ever job, so this means this will be my first time putting the Soft Skill Engineering advice (““quit your job””) in practice. Woo-hoo! Anyway… Browsing the job offerings I often check Glassdoor to see what people are saying about the given company, and I found a lot of negative reviews. I imagine sites like Glassdoor are negatively-biased, but these reviews left me wondering if there is any way I can investigate how good or bad working for the company would be. Maybe through some questions during the interviews? Any idea? By the way, I love the show, keep up the great work!