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 207: Unclear career goals and garbage code

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I’m a senior software engineer at a fast growing software startup. In the past year and a half that I’ve been with the company I’ve gone through 5 reorgs and have had 5 different managers in 4 different teams. Each time I sit down to do a 1 on 1 with a new manager they ask about my career goals and aspirations.

    Initially, when I joined the company I was a weak and feeble non-senior software engineer. When I was asked this question then, my answer was “to learn and grow, and have more authority and autonomy over the systems that I build, and be considered a senior software engineer”. Over the past year and half I have proven my worth and paid my dues and got the title of senior software engineer, along with the pay raise that came with it.

    My career development horizon has not been very broad. I didn’t even know there were levels beyond senior software engineer for a long time.

    I feel like I’m missing out on growth opportunities by not having a clear answer to this question. Please help!

    Love your show, keep it up.

  2. I career switched via a coding bootcamp 3 years ago and have been at my current company ever since.

    The bugs created by my garbage code from the early days made me a big believer in clean code practices — I now feel strongly about using descriptive variable names, avoiding duplicate code, etc.

    However, my boss/CTO is on the opposite end of the spectrum. As long as the code works, he doesn’t care what it look like.

    I want to stay at this company because I strongly believe in the product and I love the flexibility of a small start-up, but my boss and I keep bumping heads.

    For example, we recently switched over to PRs, and each PR my boss has made included blatant violations of the coding standards document we created together (!). When I request changes on the PR, he says he’ll do it but it isn’t a good use of our time to rewrite it when the code works.

    My question is two-fold:

    (1) As the most senior engineer on the software team, how can I go about promoting a quality-driven approach when the CTO doesn’t see the value in it?

    (2) If all else fails, I’m open to quitting, but I don’t want to end up the same boat. During interviews, what questions can I ask to find out if the company truly values code quality?

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Episode 206: Micromanaging WFH and vaguely tech lead

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Due to corona virus, we had to work from home. But the manager, is checking up on us very frequently. We have to give the day’s plan at 10:00am sharp, otherwise he assumes that we are taking the day off. Also, we have to send an email listing the things we did at the end of the day. This is on top of using jira. I feel he is micromanaging a lot and because of this, the team isn’t able to work efficiently. P.S. Now he wants us to add our tasks to a Google sheet.

  2. Hi Dave + Jamison,

    First of all, thank you for putting on the show every week. It is definitely my favorite podcast by a wide margin, every Monday I just keep hitting refresh waiting to get my weekly fix.

    I started my job about 10 months ago in a late stage startup. In my last annually review, I was recognized for all my hard work and was made into a “Tech Lead”. I am not sure what this means. There is no “tech lead” title in the company wiki. Everyone title is just “software engineer” with a level. The salary adjustment definitely suggest this is not a promotion, and the all important company wiki says I need to wait to get promoted anyway. What is your advice? What should I start doing now, what does it mean for my career?

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Episode 205: Old code outage and questions leaking

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Ever since I graduated from college, I’ve been working in a rising tech company for almost 5 years. I’ve been working on some project and different teams, and it has been more than 1 year on my current team. One day, someone mentioned me that their service is down because of my code from when I was on the previous team and I didn’t even touch that code for almost 2 years. I explained that I am in different team now, so I refer them to the current members of my old team. I also gave some suggestion on how to fix it, but that team didn’t respond fast enough and eventually other person fixed it. Somehow I feel really guilty that I didn’t do anything to fix it. My question is: Until when I responsible for the code I wrote? Is it as long as I’m on the team, or as long as I’m still working in the company? Please advise. Thank you.

  2. An external recruiter learned what would be on my technical screen from a previous candidate and shared that with me. Should I warn company X that their technical screen is compromised?