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

A speech bubble

Why should you listen?

Here's what listeners say:

Recent Episodes

Latest Episode

Episode 344: Showing impact without hiring and over over over engineering


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I’m a senior front end engineer at a medium sized tech company.

    During the good times of limitless tech growth, a common way for engineers to grow our “impact” (an important criteria at many companies for promotion) was to find ways to lead/manage more people, whether this was becoming a manager and having more direct reports, or becoming a tech lead and mentoring more people, especially interns and junior engineers.

    Now, with many companies doing layoffs and hiring freezes (mine included), teams simply aren’t growing and there just aren’t as many people to “impact”. What are some other ways to have more “impact” and grow my leadership skills? Both for hitting promotion criteria, but also for my own growth as an engineer that would like to be a manager or staff engineer someday.

  2. I am a very senior engineer at my company. There is an engineer on the team less senior than me, but not under me on the management tree. This person is well regarded in the organization, but has a strong tendency to over-engineer things. Normally I don’t mind a little over-complexity if it means that the person leading the project is taking ownership/accountability of the feature. But with this individual, they tend to be put in a place to make sweeping decisions that broadly impact systems when it’s clear that they don’t really have a full picture of what’s going on. To make matters worse… when I raise these points directly, the person will usually offer to accommodate my concerns by further over-complicating their solution/architecture rather than stepping back and picking an approach more appropriate for the problem.

Show Notes

This episode is sponsored by the original podcast from Red Hat, Compiler. Listen to Compiler:

A smiling speech bubble

Episode 343: Tech lead/manager and discouraging seniors


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. A listener named Mike asks,

    I’ve been offered an Engineering Management position at a company I previously worked for. The team is very small and composed of juniors and mid-level developers. The role is also completely new and because of the size and experience of the team there is some expectation that the manager will also have a fair amount of involvement in PR reviews and likely also writing some code. Is this common? Do you feel like a manager can also be a team lead from a technical perspective on a day to day basis? What should I be thinking about when considering this role?

  2. How do I keep up juniors’ morale regardless of bad code/ideas? I work in a team of 4-5 developers. We have one junior, one mid (me), one senior and our team lead. I think we mostly work well. However, sometimes the senior and team lead sort of talk down at the junior. For example, in a meeting talking about how to solve a problem the junior will propose an idea, but the senior and/or both team lead would respond by saying that no its not a good idea which is fine. However the tone of the voice often hints ‘oh you should know this it’s obvious you jamoke’.

    The junior has started to stay quiet and has told me he doesn’t feel comfortable asking the seniors for help. I’ve interjected in meetings to say I understand why the junior might have this idea but I don’t think it’s the best solution. What should I do? Should I talk to the senior/team lead? Do I just let it play out?

A smiling speech bubble

Episode 342: Losing my job to AI and bad review season


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hello Dave and Jamison, thanks for your great work. Your podcast has the bizarre magical property of making me look forward to long drives. Keep it up!

    I have been feeling anxiety over losing my job to AI, especially after the all the ChatGPT stuff from a few months back. I know that it definitely isn’t flawless but I know that this technology will just keep improving as time goes on.

    I am a software engineer with 2 years of experience. I can’t help but feeling like I will lose this amazing career in the near future. I left my old line of work a couple years back and am in my mid 30s, so switcyhing careers again is a dreadful thought.

    Is there anything you can suggest to ease my anxiety? Will being more social with my coworkers, or aiming towards management help reduce my chances of being automated? Any advice will be great, thanks.

    PS: If someone tries to replace your podcast with an AI generated one I will boycott them and stick with you.

  2. It’s review season! I am an IC software engineer, and I am required to document my impact for the last year. However, I work on an auxiliary team/new business team that is always trying to find new use cases for the existing product platform. If you look at the numbers, the impact is very low compared to the core business. Also, my team was disproportionally impacted by layoffs late last year. Lot of folks with institutional knowledge and good relationships with the core team were let go which disrupted our team and contributed to missed deadlines. How do I write my review for this bad year, with little to show for it?