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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Recent Episodes

Latest Episode

Episode 309: Missing boss support and new manager, who dis


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I am working on a devops team building the shared services that our engineers depend on: log aggregation, CICD, Monitoring, K8s clusters, etc. The team is myself, my boss (lead devops engineer), and a handful of pretty junior people. I feel pulled in a bunch of directions. I’ve asked for written documentation from my boss to help establish expectations and processes. Think branching strategies, who owns what, what should be prioritized. I want to make it easier to train up the junior people on the team and enable us to push back when devs ask for stuff with no context of what it will take to finish. Nothing has been written. It’s starting to get to me because without that it’s very difficult for me to push back on requests from the developers on our various teams. How do I tell my boss that I feel like he’s letting me down and that I’m drowning because it seems he just can’t be bothered to write down some base information?

  2. I have been working with my manager for almost a year to be promoted. I have been making a lot of progress on my tasks and as a developer. My manager agreed that I would be promoted in the next month or so if I kept it up. Then he quit to go to a new company. I now have a new manager and I feel like I have to start from scratch. Not much has been translated over from the old manager to the new manager about my progress. The new manager is now telling me there is no way they would hire me as a mid-level dev. I feel like I wasted a lot of time with the old manager and that the new manager is not seeing my value to the company and all the work that I’ve done to this point. I’m not going to quit or anything but I just wanted to rant. thanks for listening.

Show Notes

Writing strategy and vision documents:

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Episode 308: FAANG to startup and Google interview prep


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I’m currently working at a FAANG in Europe, and seriously underpaid. I recently got an offer from a US startup (Series C funded) to work remotely. Two big pluses: I’m gonna get a 2 times pay bump, and I can finally work remotely (and travel across Europe since they support work from anywhere, now that COVID restrictions are relaxed, something I wanted to do for years). Two problems: Their tech stack is Ruby on Rails, something that no “big” companies use so I may not be considered seriously because of last X years of working on a not-so-famous tech, and current tech environment screams of a recession, so I’m safer at a big company than some startup. Do you think 2.5 years in a FAANG provides enough of credibility to take care of both of these problems if things go south? Any other factors I should consider when moving from FAANG to a remote startup job?

  2. So I’ve been working at this big-tech company for around 4 years and working as a mid-level engineer. I recently got approached by a Google recruiter for L5 or Senior engineer position. I’ve led a few projects in my current company, but I don’t consider myself a “senior” level. That and the fact that I’ve worked majorly in Frontend and the role I’m gonna be getting interviewed for is Full-stack (interview rounds seem to be focused on Distributed systems mostly).

    I’ve two questions:

    • Is this some dirty trick in recruitment I gotta be aware of? I hear about downlevel a lot, but never “uplevel”.
    • If say I do prepare like crazy and pass the interviews, do you think I may not have any luck with the team matching Google does? Like no team may wanna hire a “junior” senior?

    Love the show! Keep it up.

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Episode 307: Side hustle or new job and tell me when you're stuck


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I work for a big bank. I recently found out I am severely underpaid. I have only received “exceeds expectations” ratings since joining over 5 years ago. I rage-interviewed at a bunch of FAANG companies, made it to the final rounds of all, but always came up short on the offer.

    Expectations at my current job are low. I’ve been putting all my extra energy and time into my own startup idea with a group of small people, that shows a lot of promise.

    I so desperately want to leave my current job, but I can’t prep for interviews and work on my startup at the same time. I never interviewed since joining the bank over 5 years ago.

    I truly believe my startup can ultimately be my escape, but I’m just grappling with the fact that it may take years before I can quit vs. if I got a new job I’d have much better pay and not be depressed at my 9-5.

    P.S. are you hiring?

  2. I’ve recently been placed as tech lead for a small group of 3 people, myself included. One of my teammates seems to be having a hard time communicating in a timely manner when they are stuck on something or when their task will be late. I’ve spoken to that person a few times individually on the importance of communicating early and often, but it seems like that person is happy to just muddle on until the time runs out.

    I’ve had to jump on to finish some work that was time sensitive and I’ve gone to greater lengths to slack dm on how things are going. It’s getting old. I don’t want to be micro managing. Each time I bring it up with them, it seems to get through but never manifests in action. I’m not sure if this person realizes the impact that lack of communication has especially in a remote first setting. A sense of urgency might be helpful in some respects.

    At one of our 1on1 dm chats the topic of imposter syndrome came up and we shared our mutual struggles with it. I’ve tried to encourage that person that my dm’s are open and can help but I can’t keep checking in. There should be some ownership on their end to getting help from me. How do I get this person to communicate more, share blockers or confusion so we can finish our work on time and learn on the way?

    Love your show, long time listener, first time caller.