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 245: Sweating the small stuff and quit my first job?

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. Hello soft skills audio, love the show and your great advice.

    My question is how do I stop sweating the small stuff.

    I have one colleague who either can’t spell, or types so fast the words make no sense and doesn’t correct the mistakes. Emails, comments in code, comments in PRs, presentations to management, everything is a garbled mess and makes us look bad as a team.

    Another colleague just can’t stop talking in ‘business speak’. Every conversation is twice as long as it should be because they need to ‘touch base on what’s happening in this space and will circle back’

    These are by no means ‘quit your job’ problems. How do I avoid eye rolling and getting frustrated over something so minor?

  2. I’ve been working at a software company for almost 10 years now. It’s an amazing company, 5 minutes from where I live, with a really good culture. I have an awesome role as a senior developer working with interesting new technologies, a lot of flexibility, responsibilities and a valued opinion on both technological and company-wide matters. However, this is still my first job.

    I’ve invested a lot of time and effort on career growth the last few years but I feel like there are only a few developers at my company who share the same level of enthusiasm and the need to grow as I do. I’ve been able to bring in new tech, introduce modern practices and share knowledge with my colleagues, but it feels like I’m the only one who’s actively pushing for this.

    Since this is my first job, I don’t know if this is the case in other places as well. I’ve done some freelance projects on the side to learn more about how things work somewhere else but mostly I’m the only senior dev on these projects.

    On the one hand I have a job that I love, on the other hand I don’t really know what’s out there. I feel like I might regret it later if I don’t try something else but based on other people’s experiences, I know it’s hard to find a company with such a good culture and understanding as where I am right now. Switching jobs would also give me a significant salary increase, but will require a longer commute. There are only a few software companies in my area.

    Can you help me figure out if I should take the blue pill or the red pill?

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Episode 244: Quitting telephone and recommendontion

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. My coworker Alice reached out to me in confidence to say that another coworker, Blake, is leaving in about a month. Blake told Alice in confidence that they intend to put in their two-weeks notice next week. Making things better, Blake is our entire ops team (<3 bus factor of 1) and our startup was not planning on hiring anyone else into that team for three more months!

    Do I have an obligation to respect their twice-removed confidentiality? Or do I have an obligation to the company (and my remaining coworkers) to push to start hiring their replacement sooner? I’m concerned that if I do nothing, it’s a risk to the company because Blake plays such a critical role and we did not setup Blake in an HA configuration, but I’m also wary of doing something that seems like an ethical gray area.

    I’m not in management, so I have no ability to directly start hiring. But I’m a senior IC and pretty heavily vested in the success of this company. And bummed about my dear departing friend/colleague! And bummed that my workload is about to go up as all of us learn to be ops engineers, too!

    Help! I don’t want to have to take the soft skills patented advice of quitting my job when the startup crumbles under the ops team’s departure, so what do I do instead?

  2. Someone I worked closely with on a previous job has reached out to me, asking for a referral and recommendation to my current company. The problem is, I really didn’t enjoy working with this person. The experience was so bad it prompted me to leave that job for another one. I didn’t want to burn bridges, so when I left the job, I cited personal reasons and did not mention the real reason was that I hated the interpersonal dynamics there.

    It could be the case that their toxic behavior was partly due to the toxic organization we were in. It’s also possible that over the years they’ve matured, but I don’t know. On the other hand, each time I’ve asked someone for a referral, they’ve always done it, so I assume that there’s an expectation to refer previous coworkers?

    I can’t in good conscience recommend this person to my current company. If I provide my true opinions, I suppose they’d eventually find out. Can this person sue me for defamation if they don’t get hired?

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Episode 243: Saying no and conference

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. Quite often my manager writes me in the morning: hey, can you help the team with this thing? And sometimes it happens so that I know no more than “the team” about the thing, and actually there’s no way in the world I can help them, but everyone assumes that I am some kind of expert in it. Where did they get that impression? This is so irritating!

    I absolutely love to be asked for help when what I’m asked for is kind of “my thing”.

    But in some cases, I can’t just say “hey, this is not really my specialty, I will be more of a burden here”, because everyone would think that I’m just lazy or unwilling to help. And then I sit and struggle through the process of everyone asking me questions I obviously don’t know answers to, and I try to guess or figure out these answers, and I suffer because I don’t meet everyone else’s expectations, and everyone else suffers because no one knows what to do, and it goes on and on and on… I don’t know about you - do you find yourself in such situations and what do you do if you do?

  2. My company just asked me if I’m interested in going to a conference that’s about a month away, but I’m currently in the process of job hunting and don’t know if I’m going to be around for much longer than a month. What do I do? It feels dishonest to go and then leave the company shortly after. But it also feels dishonest to say “Nope! Not interested!” because I actually would like to go. There’s also the benefit that people often are recruiting at conferences so it might be a great place to be for that.