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 214: Jumping ship and saying "I can't"


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. We have just today been told that we may or may not have a job in 1 week. I feel lucky because I handed my notice in yesterday for a new job, but my colleagues are not in such a position. The company burned through all it’s money, and its only hope is that someone or some company who wants to buy the business in its current state.

    How would you approach a situation like this? Is it best to just jump ship right away? What would potential new employers think when you told them the situation? What about my co-workers?

  2. Long time listener, first time caller asker.

    How do I tell my boss I can’t complete a task?

    I’ve been with my current company for 6 months. In that time I’ve fixed a lot of problems that have blocked our current embedded system project because of my hardware design background. Sometimes I take a bit longer than projected, but I’ve been upfront about that and it’s all fine.

    I was trying to implement a new feature and it was meant to take around 3 days of work to do, but after 3 weeks I just couldn’t quite get it to work. I asked for help and pulled out every trick in my arsenal and just couldn’t figure it out. I ended up having to tell my boss that I was out of ideas and letting him tell me to shelve it, but I could tell this disappointed him.

    What should I do next time?

Show Notes

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Episode 213: Interviewing your future boss and screwed by private equity


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. My manager has left, so I have the task of interviewing candidates for my future boss’ position. I’m not doing it alone, one more engineering lead joins me for my tech round. After this round, the candidate gets to talk to upper management for the final decision. My question is, what are the lines you should never ever cross in an interview when interviewing your future boss.

  2. Our company was purchased by a private equity firm this year. Layoffs began immediately. While the company was gradually carved up, leadership continually violated every promise made. This week, during the most recent round of layoffs, I lost my job. I worked my butt off for years trying to contribute as much as I could to make a positive impact for both users and coworkers. Alas, despite all of my efforts, I was proven expendable. It feels like there was little point in doing as much as I did for this company, especially during the panicked response to COVID.

    How do I find and sustain a sense of security at the next company? How do I ensure that I can safely care about the company—the work done and the people helping to do it—finding that precarious balance between being invaluable and burning myself out?

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Episode 212: Turnover and self-inflicted complexity


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I’ve been working at a big software company for two years. Since joining, 10 people have left my team, which is more than 50% of my team. Usually it’s the experienced developers who leave either for a different team, a different role or a different company altogether.

    The latest departure of a peer who I’ve been looking up to as a brilliant developer has been affecting my mood quite strongly. On one hand, I should be glad that I’m becoming a more pivotal member of the team, having moved up in the “seniority chain”. On the other hand, I’ve always believed the saying: “If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room”.

    Should I be concerned about this turnover rate? Is it considered normal? Why am I feeling different about this last departure than all of the previous ones?

  2. I am the tech lead on a team at a large tech company. One of the developers on our team has consistently struggled to meet deadlines and project deliverables. He frequently seems to invent his way into impossibly complex software problems. Additionally, he also seems to lack the ability to focus on a single thread, and tries to tackle diverse kinds of work in parallel. I’ve tried to help mentor and coach him, advising him to stick to one problem at a time and try to raise his hand and has for help before he backs himself into a hermeneutically sealed NP-hard problem — but I haven’t had much success. I wanted to see if you guys had any advice. Thanks a million!!!

Actual study showing actual results that we actually linked in the show notes this episode: