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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Why should you listen?

Here's what listeners say:

Recent Episodes

Latest Episode

Episode 236: Making mistakes and Lowball offer


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. Can you talk about making mistakes at work? How do you handle it, how do you frame it when you talk about it, do you try to minimize or be honest about it, how soon is it to pretend nothing went wrong and you’re doing great, etc. Thanks!

  2. Hello there, Huge fan of the show here, I often laugh hysterically listening to it on long commutes and people think I am on drugs.

    I just finished grad school in a foreign country and i am in the middle of negotiating a job offer with a company whose field of expertise is my passion. All seem to be going well and i have a feeling that the company is hugely interested in me. HOWEVER when we arrived at the salary subject i found that WAN… WAN… they want to pay me a fresh graduate salary even though i have 3 years of part-time and 1 year of full-time development experience abroad; i know their decision is not based on my skills as i did not even have to do a technical test (we mainly talked about the tools i used in the past and the work i did related to that field and it was convincing enough).

    As i see the situation, I have 2 options of either take their offer and use it as a learning experience before switching to a well paying company or say No and go on Vettery?

    Let me know what you would do in my case. Merci

Show Notes

Patrick McKenzie’s article on salary negotiation:

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Episode 235: Bus factors and toxic time bomb


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. I work as an IC in a team which owns 3 very different and large parts of the system. Our team is 4 experienced engineers and 1 intern. Historically each person was assigned to a single part and, as you might expect, we have a bus factor problem. With this layout we’re making as much progress as possible and it helps us to compete on the market but creates a dangerous situation if someone would decide to leave (spoiler: I will).

    What would you do if you were IC, team lead or a manager in such a team? We’re already exceeding headcount so it’s not an option.

  2. I am a developer with 1.5 years of experience, and was put on a greenfield project to rapidly develop a new application. We have a contractor that came onboard to help with the process. On the very first day of meeting this person I noticed their propensity to not allow anyone else to talk and interrupt.

    Fast forward several months and this person has really become a micromanager, they’re requesting the source files from our UI contractor, they got another person kicked off the project because they didn’t like the changes they were making interfering in their development process, they have constantly hoarded all the real dev work and work frequently until 9pm.

    I have voiced my concerns to the PM, mainly about the bus-factor, since layoffs are likely coming and this person likely won’t be converted.

    At this point I am just tuning out on this project. I do the scrap issues the contractor basically doesn’t want, but I am seeking learning opportunities elsewhere within the company and have nearly zero interest in the project which I see as a ticking time bomb.

    What would you recommend? I could potentially escalate the issue to the manager of our team but I basically see working with this individual as toxic and the PM as autopiloting to the finish line.

Show Notes–640k–quote-won-t-go-away—-but-did-gates-really-say-it-.html - apparently the bill gates quote is apocryphal

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Episode 234: Job hopping and untenable counter-offers


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


  1. How can I stay at a job for a long period of time?

    I’m on my second job after graduating and as I’m approaching my first year at this company I’m already thinking of moving somewhere else. A similar thing happened at my previous job where I stayed for around 15 months.

    I feel that by switching companies so often I’m hurting both my personal development and future employability. At the same time the easiest way to get a better role or a raise is to switch jobs.

    What should I do? Have I just not been lucky enough to find a company that offers better career progression which would give me a reason to stay? Is the problem with me? How did you deal with this in your own careers? How about when you’re making hiring decisions - are you wary of hiring frequent job switchers?

    Great podcast btw, keep it up

  2. Is firing the new counteroffer?

    A junior dev on my team confronted us with an offer he got from another company. He is already paid at the limit of his range, his upcoming performance review is “not great, not horrible”. The amount offered to him would put him in our lower senior range and there is no justification for that at all.

    He made it clear he is in a complicated financial situation (got his bank account emptied and credits maxed out).

    I don’t see a path to him getting close to the salary he got offered in the next year or even longer. We are not a company that fires people if they do not grow at a certain rate, but given his situation he is probably not going to stick around for long.

    He also made it clear he would like to stay if not for the salary, but now I am thinking it might be the best for the company to fire him, maybe even for him. Is that cruel, which other options am I missing?

    Given your eternal backlog of questions your advice is probably coming late, I would still be interested in it.

    Thanks for all the other advice, it’s both entertaining and very helpful.

    Best from Colombia