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

Recent Episodes

Latest Episode

Episode 173: Newbie burden and getting a 25% raise

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hello! Love the show ❤️

    I’m 6 months into my career as a software engineer at a very large company.

    As a new engineer, I’m often lost and confused, especially since my team is working on a green field project. My mentor is very helpful and patient with me despite all of my questions. I’ve thanked him countless times and publicly called out his support at standup and in front of management basically everyday. But I still feel like this isn’t enough. He’d never say it, but I know I’m such a burden to him and slow down the team.

    Other than quitting my job to alleviate him from my near-constant “Please help” messages, how can I:

    1) show him how much his support has meant to me and get him the recognition he deserves

    2) stop being such a drain on his productivity/life

    Thank you!!

  2. I’m a Senior Software Engineer, and I played the salary game with a recently promoted Mid-Level engineer on my team, who, in a gross violation of the rules, not only volunteered his own salary, but one of another Mid-Level engineer. In retrospect he was a bad one to play the game with.

    Anyway, it turns out they’re both really close to me now, and are both making a good deal more than I was 5 years ago when I was promoted to Senior. This is mostly (maybe entirely) because I was a horrid negotiator when I first started at the company. It was my first ““real”” job, and it turns out I really lowballed the company during salary negotiations. I’m pretty ready to leave the company (for reasons both personal and professional), but I’ve submitted a talk proposal for an industry conference that takes place 6 months from now. In order to give the talk I’d need to still be employed by the company, so rather than ordering the Soft Skills Engineering Special and quitting my job, I’m going to give it a shot and ask for a 25% raise.

    My question is what advice do you have for this conversation? I’ve read all the usual ““state your value, don’t make it personal, etc”” stuff, but do you guys have anything else that’s been effective in your experience on either side of this?

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Episode 172: Contracting and American email etiquette

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I’m a Full Stack Developer. I feel undervalued at my current job and I am looking at other opportunities. Many recruiters approach me on LinkedIn with contract-to-hire positions. Usually this means the benefits are not as good as direct hire positions and that the company can just dispose of me when the contract is done (after 6 or 12 months, generally). Salaries seem to be higher when contracting, though. Have you ever worked as a contractor for a large company? Would you recommend it? How likely is it that companies use this type of employment as a way to temporarily hire somebody for a specific project and then get rid of them once it’s done? What signs should I look for to avoid such companies? Does contracting actually make a difference? I live in Oregon, where employment is at-will anyway, so I can get fired at any time without any warning.

  2. Hello, I’m a mechanical engineer from Brazil. I really love your podcast. As a mechanical engineer I don’t develop software but I believe the soft skills are important to everyone. I work in an American multinational company and I often talk or send e-mails to the engineers there. However, our culture is different so I don’t know how to behave or how straightforward, informal or political I must be. I’m always afraid of offending someone. What kind of things I never should say or do when dealing with Americans? We Brazilians become friendly and intimate very fast. Do you guys notice these kind of different behavior from different cultures?

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Episode 171: Unwilling mentorship and tortoise vs hare DevOps

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hey guys, love the show. I’m starting to realize that our QA engineer lacks some skills required to do their job effectively. It’s now starting to affect my work and I can only see it getting worse. I’ve tried approaching them about their work and given them some pointers on how they can improve. I’ve done several pair programming sessions as well. They are a bit stubborn though and I don’t think they will change until things get a lot worse when they realize their mistakes first hand. We are a small team and I’m the only other member of the team with automated testing experience.

    Should I be having a discussion with my manager about this? The company is pushing for more automated testing and if the problems are addressed now it would be easier going forward. I’m hesitant to say anything in case I open up a can of hate worms though or get them fired as they are a nice person.

    P.S. I’ve only been here a couple of months so moving jobs won’t be an answer for me on this one ;D

  2. Greetings from Germany,

    I am coming from the Infrastructure side of things, and we are a team of engineers with 0-3 years of experience getting into DevOps (tm). Often we encounter new tech-stacks that involve a lot of concepts to learn (like AWS, Elastic, CI/CD, System Provisioning). The way we approach these topics leads to some conflicts. Most of my colleagues like to jump into the water and set up production systems based on a mix of trial & error and copy pasting examples form StackOverflow. I on the other hand try to do things a bit slower by learning the basic concepts and applying them together with examples to get a deeper understanding of the system.

    My approach is slower but often leads to more robust and thought out systems. However it leads to my boss and my colleagues often eyerolling me for seemingly “overthinking” it. But I also see the appeal of the other approach, since it allows for fast results and pleases the stakeholders. But I see a lot of issues and often time consuming restructuring projects coming from that.

    Should I just give in and swim with the stream while i suppress my inner nerd cracking down on things?

    Loving your Podcast btw and recommend it to all my fellow tech nerds. :)

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