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 334: Personal brand and awkward silence


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Long time question asker, first time listener. I recently started to go back through the original episodes of this podcast where a few episodes were themed were around networking, open source work, and building your personal brand. I just wanted to share my “NETWORK=NETWORTH” story. About a month ago my CEO was terminated by our board of directors, a week after it was announced that we were having layoffs for the vast majority of the company. I had been with this company for around 4 years, a lot of my work had been doing open source projects and interacting with various other companies. Unfortunately I was one of the people who was let go as part of these layoffs. I immediately reached out to various folks in the open source world that I’ve interacted with, seeing if their companies had any openings. Within two weeks I was able to interview and get an offer without a technical interview. Building my “personal brand”, interacting with the open source community had turned a pretty stressful situation into one that was relatively a lot less stressful!

  2. Listener Stochastic Beaver asks,

    I’ve recently joined a big tech company remotely and my team is super AWKWARD. No one says anything non-work-related in team chat. My manager is the only one with a camera on in team-wide meetings. I barely saw anyone’s face. When I try to chitchat about their life during in 1:1s, somehow they don’t feel like interested in talking about themselves so I eventually stopped asking anymore. In meetings, my manager is most vocal person within the team and the other people barely speak. As a result, it’s always feels like my manager’s one man show trying to make a conversation and discussion and throwing a joke and the responses are usually some ‘lol’ in the chat.

    It’s not that the team members are not engaged to the team. Everyone is very passionate and I usually see their work related messages, code reviews, and emails coming back and forth after the evening, even in weekends. Is this normal that all the people are extremely shy in the same team? I like the work and the problem we’re solving but sometimes I find that the silence in the air is suffocating me and I also want to establish a good relationship with my coworkers. Am I asking too much for them in ‘work’? Thanks for listening.

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Episode 333: Unsure about management and I shall decline the offer


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I have been at my job for 5 years since I graduated college. I love who I work with and what I do. My question is more about the future. I have a family now and I love my work/life balance and limited meetings as an IC. I used to confidently say “I want to be a manager and eventually a CTO.” Now I am less sure.

    I would love to help people achieve their goals, but I love coding and do not want to give that up. The thing I love the most outside of coding is bringing engineers together. I am in charge of a monthly meeting for BE engineers to share what they work on. I am good at getting engineers to show up to events. I have hosted other demos and events and potlucks that even the most quiet, introverted engineers show up and have fun.

    What options are there for engineers who love coding and want to have a bigger person impact, but are not 100% sold on being a people manager?

  2. I recently interviewed at a large tech company. I did three interviews at the remote “onsite” and did well in two of them but flunked the system design one. Since I was interviewing for a mid level position, I feel like I missed some things that are inexcusable. I’m a very growth and career oriented person so I’ve been doing my due diligence and have been heavily studying system design concepts since. I haven’t received a response yet but I expect a rejection and I do think it would be fair, given my SD performance. However, if they miraculously come back to me with an offer, I would decline it, because this would mean their hiring bar is low and that’s not the level of colleagues I’d like to work with. I know this sounds very self righteous and so I’d like to hear your thoughts on it, since you guys are always very insightful.


Show Notes

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Episode 332: Layoff + baby survival and 18-year-old CS graduate


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. My company recently had a big layoff - about 40% of engineers are gone. My job is safe (for now). About 6 months ago, I was promoted to a “Staff”-ish position that I’ve been really enjoying and looks great on my resume if I hold it for a good length of time.

    Besides just enjoying my job, I’ve just moved house and I have a baby on the way, so I’m highly motivated to have some stability (and get paid parental leave.)

    My gut says give it the 9 months to see how it all plays out - but my brain thinks my gut is an idiot. Interviewing while taking care of a newborn for the first time feels like an incredibly difficult thing to do and the job market may not be getting better.

    Do you have any advice for how to navigate this situation?

  2. Big fan of the pod! How should I approach being slightly younger than my peers at the workplace? I graduate in December with my bachelor’s in CS but just turned 18 a couple of months ago. I’m actively interviewing at big tech companies and plan to start working as soon as I graduate. Should I avoid the topic or would it be completely inconsequential for my peers to be aware of my age? I’m looking to move up the ranks quickly, and can imagine many developers wouldn’t love knowing their manager is in their early 20s. For what it’s worth as well, I haven’t been open about being slightly younger in my university setting, as early on I noticed professors didn’t respect my contributions as much when they were aware of my age. What’s your take?