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 318: Staff and part time dev


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Listener Albert Camus asks,

    Hello Team. I am a long time listener of the show, and I really enjoy it. I’m a senior engineer and want to get to the next level in my career. I talked to my manager about this. I told them I preferred the technical side and staff engineer was the next level up. He responded positively, although he didn’t give me a timeline, not even a vague estimate. In a subsequent meeting they told me it wasn’t a linear progression at the company and there’s quite an overlap in the salary range between senior and staff engineer. I was also told that the company only had a few staff level engineers and they were considered experts at a particular sub-section of a technology. This makes me feel like I am being stalled. I have seen this a few years ago, at a previous workplace, where I tried for a promotion, and the manager at that place kept giving excuses to buy time. I am afraid that could be the case here as well. I am technically strong and have good soft-skills. I have designed, developed and documented multiple features for the company. Whenever there’s a complex bug, the product manager always turns towards me for help. I also handle inter-team discussions at times, always a part of the interview panel while hiring new team members and at most times the only person representing my team from the tech perspective during alignment meetings with the sales and marketing teams. I could also say with confidence that I bring more value to the table and have data to back it up. But I am not sure how I could use all this information without seeming desperate, to really push for that promotion and a raise. I could quit and get a new job, most probably with a promotion, but I have put in a lot of effort here and I intend to stay at the current company for at least the next couple of years to reap the rewards. What can I do to get that promotion in the coming year?

  2. We know that the salary is high in our area, and I don’t need all this money. So, what is your opinion on part time job and how can I get one?

    I’m a senior frontend with more than 15 years of experience and just want to live a little.

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Episode 317: Process renegades and hiding my disgrunteledness


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I work at a small company that has recently grown from a couple of engineers to 40+ due to some great new project opportunities. As part of this transition, many new policies are being implemented. The policies concerning the engineering department primarily revolve around task tracking and reporting time. Gone are the days when an engineer can charge eight hours to “fixing stuff” and earn a paycheck. Most of us are on board, but there are three engineers in particular who have been around for quite some time and vary between subtly passive aggressive to downright combative when it comes to creating JIRA tasks and logging their hours.

    The problem? They serve an absolutely critical role in our company. They are nigh irreplaceable in an extremely niche market. How should a manager strike the perfect balance between forcing an engineer to do something that they don’t want to do and not forcing them out? If this was a more common skillset, there wouldn’t be an issue with telling them “You don’t like it, go find another job”. But when there are a handful of people in the world that do this kind of thing and it closely involves hardware and these three just happen to be local… well, you get the idea. Losing these individuals would be a staggering blow the company. Making them redundant isn’t economically feasible. Time to ramp up for this position would be close to a year.

  2. So I’ve recently followed the first rule of Soft Skills Engineering and quit my job. All right! I believe in the new role and I think it’ll be a good change to me.

    Despite this, I’m feeling guilty about leaving my team behind. When my managers asked me how I was feeling in the last few quarters, I’ve mostly said I’m fine! I never told them my reservations about how the codebase I’m working on has no oversight, that they need to hire another dev because I don’t trust being the sole keeper, that it seems like product has forgotten this feature. I even indulged them when they asked me to make a long-term career plan when I was certain I would leave by early next year at the latest.

    So, what’s your take on how disgruntled employees often have to hide their true feelings? Maybe I could’ve been open, but it really seemed like the odds were against us, it’s just that upper leadership was neglecting this feature and there was no urgency to improve things. But I still feel like I wasn’t being fully honest. What do you guys think?

    Thanks so much and keep up the good work! Feelin’ Guilty

    P.S. Do you feel that this industry naturally rewards lack of loyalty and connection? What do you feel about that?

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Episode 316: Skills reboot and quitting the perfect job


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hi! I have been a software engineer at a very small company for 10 years. We write desktop products and single server products - I don’t have experience with scaling systems or the latest & greatest Javascript frameworks. I would like to move to a company where I can learn and grow, using a more modern stack. My coding skills are great, but it seems like I just don’t have the experience many companies are looking for. With 15 years total experience I am too junior for senior positions, and too senior for junior positions. I’m feeling stuck and am tempted to quit my job so I can focus on side projects using the latest and greatest tools. Or is there a better way to get unstuck?

  2. Listener James asks,

    How do you know when it’s the right time to move on from an almost perfect job?

    I’ve been a frontend developer for 6 years and spent the last 2 years at a really great company. I have lot’s of autonomy, a competitive salary, excellent stock options, and great job security. But, so far my entire career has been working with the same technologies, and there’s no scope to learn new languages at my current job.

    I was recently contacted by a recruiter, which resulted in an interview and offer for a full-stack role with a stack that would be completely new to me but really excites me.

    I’m worried that never holding development job for more than 2 years would look bad, but at the same time I don’t want to be stagnant and not learning.

    Should I stay at my current job where I’m comfortable, or take a risk and jump into the unknown to develop my career.