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 270 (rerun of 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 269: A bad product and running the meter down


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. How should I deal with the product I am building being called “the worst tool in the domain I’ve ever used”? The product I’m working on is quite old, has many customers, but by no means is a product everyone loves or even talks about. Most of the public feedback I see is negative, with very little praise or even good words about it. Lately, it’s been straining me and affecting my motivation to work on this product, even though otherwise I like working on it, with the great team, good tech stack and so on. Thanks!

  2. Hi! I miss going to the gym (because of lockdown) and listening to your podcast while I do cardio! My question: I’m a freelance developer working remotely in a team of other freelancers. This is my first full remote and freelance job setup. Recently, I’ve been feeling like the other developers are “just letting the meter run”, as it takes them a long time to complete tasks (without writing unit tests or documentation), the tickets they work on don’t pass initial QA, they log in late in the day and disappear in the afternoon usually without leaving a slack message or status. Is it understandable to think so negatively about them all the time should I just mind my own business and just manage my feelings? Help appreciated - I have been thinking of leaving this project because of them, which is unfortunate because the company and their product are interesting. Thanks!

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Episode 268: Title inflation and solo remote engineer


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. I have a question about ‘title inflation’, where you get promoted faster than your experience would normally suggest for that specific title. If I’ve been a ‘Senior Software Engineer’ for all of a year, and am now getting recruiting offers for Director and VP of Engineering jobs, is it worth interviewing and seeing where it goes? I don’t really see myself at that level, but I… might be able to level up to it quickly!

  2. Should I take a remote work offer or find a new job in a new place? I am moving to another country with my husband in 2 months. I am the only frontend developer in the team and my company has been having difficulty hiring people, so my boss asked me if I could work for the company as a remote employee. I am reluctant to the offer because my plan has always been to find a new job so that I can blend in with the local community. Not to mention the 12-hour time difference and lack of new challenges. Sadly, I find it difficult to reject him and leave my colleagues behind. What is a better action to take?