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 119 (rerun of episode 77): My boss wants me to speak at conferences and how to get better than a 2% raise

Download

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I started my first job as a developer 2 months ago. My boss wants me to give talks at meetups and then later, conferences.

    I have no idea what I can talk about as I am still very much learning.

    How do I find a topic to research and work on so that I can deliver value to people listening to my talk?

  2. What are some things I can try to increase the scale of my annual raise or bonus? For example, if my company averages a 2% raise each year, but I really want a 3% raise this year, how might I go about it?

A smiling speech bubble

Episode 118: Asking For Help and Speaking Up

Download

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. What is the right balance between asking for help and figuring things out on my own? How do I know when it’s time to ask questions or when it’s time to spend more time drilling down into the code?

  2. Been at my first job for a couple of years now, and I am very quiet in the workplace and still find it hard to open up, be assertive, and speak up in meetings.

    When I try to go out of my comfort zone (arguing about technical decisions, setting up and driving meetings), I don’t think my manager appreciates my efforts. I am told that I need to voice my opinions more and have more of a two-way conversation. I feel I’m not given concrete chances to improve, and it’s very demotivating. How should I deal in situations like this?

Job pitch time! Are you interested in working at Walmart Labs? Email Jamison at [email protected]!

A smiling speech bubble

Episode 117: Defense Industry Stigma and Responding to Negative Feedback

Download

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Will working as a defense contractor hurt my future employability in private industry?

    I work as a full stack engineer for a small defense contractor with a security clearance. My company is awesome; All of my coworkers are super talented/motivated. On top of that we get to work with modern tech stacks (React, Elm, Go, Rust, Kafka, you name it, we can use it). I have heard rumors that it’s hard to move back to private industry after working in this world due to working with old/legacy tech and the view that defense contractors generally have less than stellar engineers. Is this true? I feel I’m in a bit of a unique situation due to how good I have it at my company and feel I could demonstrate that my technical chops are up to par with industry standards.

  2. We we just did a 360 performance evaluation where we provided “strong points” and “improvement suggestions” for two colleagues assigned by management. The completed reviews were sent to management and management forwarded it to the people under review.

    One of the reviews I received was very positive but the other one, from a senior teammate I work closely with, had a very harsh and exaggerated “improvement suggestions” section and very short and unconvincing “strong points” section.

    I’m not sure if he really considers me incompetent or he just wrote the suggestions, which do have some truth in them, without bothering to put things in perspective and without considering the impact it can have on my career and motivation. I feel a bit resentful towards the reviewer and am worried about the potential negative consequences of this review (I am relatively new to the company, joined 7 months ago).

    For now, I am trying to act as if nothing happened.

    I am hesitating whether I should talk to this person. On one hand, he can write what he wants in the way he wants. On the other hand, I feel the review is unfair and too negative.

    I would appreciate your input on this.