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 292: Haunted by former co-worker and awkward manager endorsement


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I recently joined a new company that pays me much better and has much better engineering practices than my previous job.

    I referred a great engineer who was hired on a different team. Then, another engineer from my old job applied for MY team and is currently being interviewed for the role.

    This engineer is one of the reasons I left my former company! They have an impressive resume and interview well, but are unable to complete even the most basic tasks and have no interest in improving their skills. They asked me to put in a good word with my tech lead, but if anything, I want to encourage my tech lead NOT to hire them. I’m not a part of the interviewing process but I feel an obligation to let my tech lead know just how bad this developer is. Help?

  2. Thanks for thinking I’m neat! I think you are pretty neat too!

    In my most recent 121, my manager asked me to give some feedback on another colleague on whether I thought they would make a good Engineering Manager. My genuine thoughts about my colleague are that they’re pretty good technically, they have good communication skills, are friendly, and just generally a good team player. Outside of work, we’re pretty good friends and so I really want to see them succeed. However, I can’t shake the feeling that they wouldn’t necessarily be a good Engineering Manager and I can’t figure out why. What are some other (not so obvious) qualities that you think are important for EMs, since on paper, I would think they tick a lot of the boxes.

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Episode 291: Hyper-productive team lead and hyper-unproductive senior engineer


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hi! Thanks so much for all the work you do to put this show out, it’s kept me sane the past year. To sum up my problem…I’m aware this is going to sound like a slightly bananas thing to complain about, but my team’s tech lead is superhumanly productive.

    About 8 months ago, we hired Sarah. I can’t overstate how awesome Sarah is, but, well, in some ways that’s the problem. My team already suffers from under-resourcing. Rather than pushing back on unrealistic requests, Sarah will churn out 90% of the work required by working crazy hours so that we make the deadline. She always shares the credit and plays up even the smallest contribution any of the rest of us made, so again, that’s not at all the issue.

    For context, my team doesn’t have a manager, and our leaders are super high up the org chart.

    The problem is that now leadership expects this velocity from the team all the time, not realizing that this it relies on Sarah’s definitely-unsustainable level of productivity. Many other teams in our org are struggling to deliver due to the same resource constraints we face, so now their work is being lumped on our team as well, because the perception is that we’re The Team That Can Handle It. We’ve already lost one team member this year due to burnout, and the pace just keeps increasing. Additionally, I feel like this undermines leadership’s trust in my opinions. Leadership sometimes asks me how long a given thing will take. I’ll give an honest answer, but then when Sarah delivers the thing much faster by working 14-hour days, it makes it look like I’ve been sandbagging my estimates.

    How do I approach this? I’ve thought about explaining my concerns to Sarah in a 1:1, but I feel like I’d just come across as lazy and whiny…for all I know, she thinks we all should work like she does, although she’d definitely be too polite to say so outright. Are there any other options, or is this a :partyquityourjob: situation?

  2. Hello Hosts!

    I love the podcast and its light and humorous tone on a not so light subject.

    Ours is a small team with just 2 engineers in a mid-sized company. I joined recently as a senior engineer. The other person was hired for the same role a few months after me. The problem is that this other engineer doesn’t seem to posses senior level skill-set. I often find them making obvious mistakes and struggling to understand user stories. On most occasions they aren’t even able to finish their work, let alone making technical design decisions.

    I tried to bring this up in a casual way with them, and they seemed to get a bit touchy and defensive about it and they also seem to have a difficult time in making honest conversations about issues. So I never brought this up again. This situation of them not being able to carry out their expected responsibilities is taxing me a lot as I have to pick up the things they mess up in addition to my job.

    If this was from a person at a much junior level, that would be understandable. But this doesn’t make any sense to me.

    I am not very comfortable with the idea of ratting them out to the manager and seeming like a non-team player, but I am also afraid that I cannot put up with them for long while also still maintaining my sanity.

    If you were in my situation, may I know what would you do differently and how would you deal with this person? Thanking you!

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Episode 290: Past offers and from QA to PM


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I wanted to know if listing past offers (as a brand name signal) on your resume will help or hurt you during the resume screening and interview stages?

  2. I am an SQA engineer at one of the FAANGS, and I feel inadequate in my position; I get the gist QAs are not valued much. Essentially I got into this domain early in my career, and I find moving out of this role difficult. My long-term goal is to get into a PM role. Is that even possible, or should I first switch to the Dev role to build a better foundation? Help me. I am lost.