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 187: Interview insanity and making up for lost time


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hello there!

    To say things pretty directly, I hate the recruiting process in software engineering, especially coding tests on whiteboard during interviews. It makes me very nervous and I already missed a job opportunity because I could not handle my stress correctly. Plus I think that the problems asked in those interviews are irrelevant to the day-to-day job, which means that I need to study again sorting algorithms and tree balancing every time I want a new job. How do you deal with those interviews? Do you do heavy preparation? Do you think that the interview process is stupid too? Should the permanent access to StackOverflow be stated as an elementary dev’s right :D ?

    Thank you very much, keep on the excellent job :)

  2. I’m in my mid 30s and have been coding for about 20 years, I have a non-technical bachelor’s degree and have had a fairly varied career. I did freelance web development work throughout college, and then after college had a couple of different jobs as the sole in-house web developer for two different small media companies. After that I spent some time running my own web dev/design business with some partners, freelanced some more, and then finally decided to get on the career track about 4 years ago. At that point, I ended up taking a remote developer job at a small company of about 8 people with no real hierarchy or management structure and worked there for 3 years.

    About 6 months ago, I moved on from there to what now feels like my first “real” job at a tech focused company (still remote), and while I’m happy with the work and compensation, I’m realizing that I’m at the bottom of the software developer hierarchy and there are many people above me who are a fair bit younger and, I assume, less experienced than I am. I don’t mind being subordinate to younger devs, but I do feel like my career is a good 5 or 10 years behind where it should be because until now I haven’t worked in an environment where it has been possible to earn a senior, lead, or management title. I’ve been coding for a long time and am very interested in moving up the ladder, leading a team and working more at the product level. Do you have any advice for how I can accomplish this quickly and make up for lost time - especially considering I’ve only been here for 6 months?

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Episode 186: First job negotiation and am I a senior engineer?


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hi! I am 29 years old and a couple of years ago I decided to turn my career around by going from teaching history to frontend development. After 2 years of education I am now doing my first internship in small but established company. I have the feeling I will soon be offered a full-time position.

    How can I ask for the best job offer (salary-wise) accordingly to my age but few experiences? I don’t want to be perceived as ungrateful, nor be exploited and get underpaid.

  2. How do you know that you are a senior engineer? Not just the title you are given, but when do you really feel like one? Some people relate this to experience, but you can be coding or doing crappy stuff for 10 years so for me this is not the answer.

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Episode 185: Fragile coworkers and soft demotion


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hello! I am the only principal architect in my department. In addition to technical and delivery obligations, I am also responsible for mentoring of engineers. Recently, I reviewed some very lackluster customer facing presentation materials drafted by a junior engineer (for which I provided templates and talking points) and informed them this would need to be worked again from scratch. I received verbal confirmation that the effort was indeed lacking, and that they would take a different approach. Imagine my surprise when I was pulled into an HR meeting by my manager, telling me a formal complaint was filed for my being ‘belligerent’. Also mentioned to me was that this engineer would be leaving the company because they couldn’t possibly continue to work with me. Now might be a good time to mention we are a completely remote team and this is the first negative feedback this engineer received from me (due to having only been on the team for 2 weeks at that time). This individual has moved into a different group which I work with often, but now I’m concerned about having someone on the team who cannot handle direct (but professional) criticism. How do I handle this professional relationship going forward? P.S. this engineer is nearly 40 and we are consultants in 100% customer facing roles.

  2. Hi Soft Skills Advisors, I think I may have been ““soft demoted”” at the start-up I work at. I used to be part of the senior management of the company as the most senior technical member of the staff. However, due to a series of unfortunate mistakes on my part (both technical and managerial), I seem to be no longer trusted or included in any discussions or decisions. I feel like I’m demoted from my position in everything but official title. And yet, everyone in the senior management reassures me that they still very much value all my contributions.

    Is it time to take the time-honored soft skills advice and “quit my job”, or am I just being unnecessarily emotional and paranoid here and it will just take some time to rebuild trust?

    (I’m paid a good salary and still have my stock options, etc.)