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 228: Unpaid team lead and banking hours


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. I’m a team lead right now, but I’m leaving the company. When I discussed with my manager, I recommended a team member to take over my position and suggested raising his salary. In the end, the manager asked that team member to take over as team lead, but refused to raise his salary or even give him the title.

    He said he needs to prove that he can take responsibility as a team lead. Then he will get the title and raise. But I feel they just want to procrastinate and save the money.

    What can I do to help my team member fight for the title and raise?

  2. Hi Dave and Jamison. You have a great show and I really enjoy listening. I am currently a software engineer at a small/medium sized tech company in the healthcare industry. I was recently asked to interview for a similar role at a pretty large hedge fund. I am wondering if there would be a big culture shift if I were to end up making that change. I am under the (possibly inaccurate) impression that for bankers something like an 80+ hour work week is common. I’m wondering if this impression is accurate, if it extends to the finance industry as a whole, and how much it extends to developers rather than bankers/traders if so. I also remember you guys mentioning in a previous episode that video game developers also typically work long hours. Are there other industries where this culture is typical?

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Episode 227: Junior expectations and manager flakiness


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. What should I expect from a junior develop, and how can I help them grow?

    A junior developer joined my team of 4 a few months ago. He has learned things at a reasonable speed but it is still hard for him to implement new features without any help or existing code to copy.

    In past jobs, I usually gave juniors simple, easy tasks, but we don’t have that simple tasks in my current job because we’re working on complicated internal systems.

    Also other junior developers spent lots of their private time learning. I don’t think this junior has spent any time learning in his private time.

    I don’t want to ask them to learn in their private time, but I just can’t help feel annoyed about the fact that he still cannot pick up a well-defined task in our backlog and complete it by himself. I think he really needs to take some time learning some basics like networking and some skills like keyboard shortcuts of text editors. I know there is lots to learn. However, sometimes I lose my patience when I have to repeat myself.

    In addition to lack of knowledge and skills, I feel that he always waits somebody to tell him what to do and explain everything to him. I tried to tell him the whole picture of the project before explain a specific task, but I couldn’t see any improvement.

    What could I do to help him (or make myself feel better)?

  2. I’ve worked with 3 managers in the past 2 years at my first company and all of them seem to have trouble producing results from team meetings and one on ones. More specifically, my managers have mentioned things/events/changes they would plan to do with the team or me and several weeks/months go by and the idea is never mentioned again. At times it felt like maybe it was me that was unable to produce the outcomes of said ideas or that maybe I was some sort of a lost cause. However, my most recent manager doubled the ratio of ideas:results, so I don’t think it’s just me. For my one on ones, we have a long running list of things we talk about and even the trail there doesn’t seem to amount to anything.

    How do I hold my manager accountable for things they say or plan to do? How do I bring up these conversation on one-on-ones without making it seem like I’m the one managing them?

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Episode 226: Declining job offers and being the outside hire


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. How do you politely decline job offers that you never intended to accept in the first place? I’ve been trying to interview more often recently to keep my interviewing skills sharp and check how employable I am. I always struggle declining the offers politely. What usually happens is that I set high salary expectations hoping that the company refuses me, but sometimes they do match it and I end up in an even worst spot. Any tips? Should I come clear earlier in the process?

  2. I was recently hired as a Staff Engineer at a large tech company. After joining the company I was told I was the first outside Staff Engineer ever hired into the organization and the expectations for me were very high. After the first month I noticed that coworkers were acting strange around me and less responsive to my ideas. During a 1:1 one of my coworkers specifically stated that he and several others have been at the company for 5 years and were passed up for the promotion I got and were upset that an outsider was hired. Based on this they would be watching me closely. I’ve talked to management about the conversations and their feedback has been to try to “make friends”. I am the most Sr Engineer in a group of 15 engineers who work across 5 different teams. The situation is turning very toxic where the other engineers are trying to “one-up” me in effort to obtain the promotion for the next cycle. What do I do?