It takes more than great code
to be a great developer.

Subscribe Now!

Soft Skills Engineering is a weekly advice podcast for software developers.

Hosts Dave Smith and Jamison Dance answer software developers' most pressing questions about life, the universe, and everything. Join us each week to laugh at our terrible amazing jokes and gasp at our pretty good ideas pure wisdom.

Recent Episodes:

Episode 25: Understanding the Business and Managing Without Being a Developer

Download

In episode 25, Jamison and Dave answer these question:

How do I understand the business side better?

  • Analysis of tabs vs spaces
  • How does your business make money?
  • Just ask your CEO/manager
  • Kill the myth of the pointy-haired boss
  • Smaller companies expose you to this more
  • Just ask questions:
    • What was our revenue last month?
    • How much did we spend last month?
    • Who are our biggest customers?
    • How does the sales process work?
  • The Dave Smith Method® for learning business jargon.
  • Be kind and have empathy when you learn.

Can I be a good technical manager without a technical background?

  • Technical leadership vs management.
  • Management means empathy and understanding. Can you get that without “coming up through the ranks”?
  • What are the skills of a good manager?
  • Does being a developer give you those skills?
  • Dave is a Night Elf Code Mage.
  • How do you handle technical concerns as a non-technical person?
  • Don’t fake technical knowledge.
  • Leading a team when you don’t directly see the effect of your actions.
  • Managing Nerds by Rands.
  • Jamison’s former boss’s technical expertise

Episode 24: Should I be a generalist or specialist developer?

Download

In episode 24, Jamison and Dave answer this question:

As a software developer, should I be a generalist or a specialist? This was inspired by a Twitter conversation here: https://twitter.com/iam_preethi/status/766758679743954944

Episode 23: Joining a startup as a CTO and asking for a raise

Download

In episode 23, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

You are asked to be a CTO of a start-up. What questions would you ask in order to decide whether to join, and what things would you give most attention to, if you do join?

I REALLY want and deserve a raise so I hope you two discuss how a nerdy introvert gets the CFO of a small privately owned business to want to give her more money when she’s already happily donating an additional 10-20 hours a week.

Episode 22: Health insurance and contributing to open source projects

Download

In episode 21, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

What’s up with all this health insurance jargon?

How do I get started contributing to open source?

Episode 21: Giving work to interns and dealing with "dead weight" developers

Download

In episode 21, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

What kind of work should interns be given?

How do you handle developers who are dead weight?

Episode 20: Stories from people who got fired and doing effective code reviews

Download

In episode 20, Jamison and Dave share some stories from people who have been fired.

We also answer this question: How do I make code reviews more effective? It feels like reviewers fit into 2 categories: either they are too quick and superficial, or they get bogged down in nit picks.

Episode 19: Firing someone for a coding mistake and getting demoted

Download

In episode 19, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

Would you ever fire someone over a coding mistake? For example, should you empathize with ignorance and explain how SQL injection works or is the mistake so basic as to be intolerable. Would you change your answer if the mistake was found during a code review or found as the source of a data breach?

How do you positively represent the desire to be demoted? I am called a ‘senior engineer’, but I got that way because of null instead of actual skill. I would like to be a senior engineer at some point, but I would be a better one if I travel more where I have seniors to look up to, established processes etc rather than stressing about defining everything myself; but that’s a weird thing to say to a current or potential boss and is hard to do without also volunteering for a pay cut.

Episode 18: Dropping out of college and preparing for interviews

Download

In episode 18, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

I’m a computer science major who still has a couple years of school left. I also have a part time job doing web development. I love what I’m learning and doing at work to the point that I question if it’s worth investing two more years into school. How would you counsel someone in my position?

From listener Antonio: How do I prepare for an interview?

Episode 17: Side project ideas and getting fired

Download

In episode 17, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

From listener Greg Harrison: I want to build a side-project, but my lack of coming up with a good idea saps my motivation. Do you guys have any tips?

Have you ever been fired? What happened? How do you bounce back?

Episode 16: Dealing with recruiters and learning new things without frustration

Download

In episode 16, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

From listener David Renne: What’s the best way to talk to random LinkedIn recruiters, recruiter calls and emails? I prefer the reverse lookup apps to determine if an unrecognized phone number looks like a recruiter it goes straight to voice mail during business hours.

As a mid-level dev, i sometimes get frustrated when i try learning new things. how can i be more comfortable as a beginner? Sometimes i get frustrated with myself when i don’t immediately grasp something that i perceive to be very simple. It makes me less motivated to try new things and take risks on new technology, and really feeds my impostor syndrome.