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 163: Sounding a warning and negative Glassdoor reviews

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I recently joined a new team to help rewrite a batch job whose source code has long been lost. After taking some time to learn the tech stack and the business problem, I realized that the current approach will not let us meet our nightly deadline. Even a very generous back of the envelope estimate suggests that we’ll miss it by two orders of magnitude. I have some ideas on how to maybe fix this… buuuttt…

    I brought my concerns and calculations to the lead project engineer who dismissed them outright. They did not offer an explanation for why I was wrong, even when I asked for one. I started a proof of concept to illustrate my point, but there were some weird conversations that suggested that I should just drop the issue.

    I know how to make a technical argument about my concerns, but apparently that isn’t enough.

    How can I get fellow engineers to at least take my concerns seriously, not just for this project, but generally? I’m only 3.5 years into my career, so is it just a seniority thing?

  2. Hi! I’m a software engineer and I’m currently looking for my next job. It will be my second-ever job, so this means this will be my first time putting the Soft Skill Engineering advice (““quit your job””) in practice. Woo-hoo! Anyway… Browsing the job offerings I often check Glassdoor to see what people are saying about the given company, and I found a lot of negative reviews. I imagine sites like Glassdoor are negatively-biased, but these reviews left me wondering if there is any way I can investigate how good or bad working for the company would be. Maybe through some questions during the interviews? Any idea? By the way, I love the show, keep up the great work!

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Episode 162 (rerun of episode 113): Quitting Your First Job and Too Many Responsibilities

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. How do I quit my first job if I’m working with a manager I love?

    I started my first full-time job about two years ago and I’m starting to think about looking for a new job, both because I am ready for new challenges and I’m ready to move to a new city.

    I have a great working relationship with my boss, so a part of me wants to tell her about my interest in finding a new job, both so that I could use her for a reference and also so that I can be honest with her about my intentions. She’s been a great boss and mentor to me, so there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to jeopardize our working relationship. But another part of me feels like I might be jeopardizing my presence in my current office if I make it clear that I am looking to move on, especially if my job hunt doesn’t go as smoothly as I hope.

  2. How do you deal effectively with rapidly increasing work responsibilities?

    My technical lead was recently promoted to management. Being both ambitious and the only Sr. Engineer without retirement plans in the next 4 months, I immediately stepped into the power vacuum and inverted a binary tree faster than all my coworkers to establish my position as new tech lead. After a few months the other senior engineer on my team retired, and I’ve ended up holding the bag for my new job responsibilities, my old responsibilities as a Sr. Engineer, AND the departed Sr. Engineer’s responsibilities.

    I told my manager how much was on my plate and that I was afraid my work output would suffer, and her response was to throw money hand over fist at me and promise to backfill both Senior positions within the next 12 months.

    How do I get through the next 18 months without losing all my hair? Are there any strategies to make sure the team doesn’t go up in flames when I forget about a key deadline? Or at least position myself so that nobody can tell it is my fault until I can make a subtle getaway in the brand new Ferrari I’m going to buy?

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Episode 161: Trapped as a QA engineer and trapped as a generalist

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hey guys, I’ve graduated with a CS degree 8 years ago, but due to circumstances I accepted a QA job because I wasn’t getting any other offers. Well 8 years later, I’m still stuck in QA and would love to move into development. I tried transferring within companies and applying to developer jobs, but the QA brand is holding me back. Any advice on how I can become a developer when I’m pigeon-holed in QA?

  2. Hi folks! I need your wisdom! Please help. TLDR: Senior as a Programmer, Junior as a Mobile developer.

    When I first came to my job as an intern, my manager asked me what I wanted to do more - backend stuff, testing, or mobile development. I went randomly and chose the latter. It became my profile and I’ve grown to really like it. Over the years, life has thrown me back and forth, I’ve been on multiple different projects not related to mobile, so now I can do… everything? Or rather, nothing. I know a little bit about .NET, a little about web development, writing Visual Studio extensions, IoT, machine learning, Unity game dev.. This is good because I can now quickly learn new things, know a lot of tricky stuff, know how to communicate with customers. I have a decent salary and good feedback.

    But the huge downside to that is that I stayed exactly at the same level of mobile development as I was 3 years ago. I know basic stuff, a little bit of advanced stuff, but I have zero experience in all the ““hot”” things like RxJava, Dagger, Kotlin.

    All the job vacancies I’ve seen require a strong knowledge of something particular: be it Android or iOS development, backend or frontend. I’m suffering from a huge imposter syndrom - yes, I have all the ““good”” programmer qualities, I’m smart, but I have no advanced or even medium knowledge in anything. What can you advise me?

    Huge thanks and… love the show! ❤

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