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 263: Why am I bored and ver-boss-ity

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. I’m feeling bored and disengaged with my job lately, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of the best jobs I can find: my manager and teammate are great, my compensation is very high for my area, worklife balance/benefits etc are excellent, and the mission and product the company make are awesome and help the world! On top of all that I think the work is technically interesting! But still I’m bored and disengaged :(

    I can’t tell if I’m just burned out from the pandemic and this is how it’s manifesting, or if I just have a serious case of “the grass is always greener” and now that I’ve been on this team for 2 years I’m ready just for a change of scenery. I want to fall back in love with this job, but how can I do that? Do you have any advice? Changing teams isn’t a great fit as this is a small office for the company in a ““satellite”” site, with only one other team that I’m not super interested in.

    I could of course take the patented advice and find a new job that might be equally great, but what else can I do?

  2. Listener Very Verbose asks,

    Love the show! I’m rapidly working my way through the backlog and dread the day that I reach the end and have to wait a whole week for the next one! :)

    Whenever I write a message to a coworker I tend to start with a huge wall of text, then revise it down to something smaller and hit send. I do this with emails, slack messages, code review feedback, you name it. Even this question I’ve re-written a few times!

    I feel like I’m over-thinking things, and trying to make sure there is no misunderstanding in what I’ve written. For example, a relatively small piece of feedback for a code review might be re-written many times, because I’m concerned that I will come across as overly negative or condescending if I just send through my first draft.

    Often, the feedback is positive and they agree with the points that I’ve raised. But they’re only seeing 2 points, when I probably started with 10 and deleted 8 of them that I later deemed to be ‘too nitpicky’ before sending it through!

    Naturally, all of this takes time and I’m often wasting more than 20 mins, only to end up sending 2-3 sentences at the end of it. Do you have any tips for helping me get to the point, so that I can be more productive and move on with other work? Do I just need to care less about what they think of me? Should I just skim over the code, say “LGTM”, and suppress the fear that I may have just approved a critical bug to go to production?

    Appreciate any advice you can give. Unfortunately, I don’t think inventing a time machine to go back 18 minutes after spending 20 minutes writing a message is a reasonable option :) It would take me several decades to be happy with the time machine before I turn it on!

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Episode 262: I'm too popular and too much turnover

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. Hello!! This is maybe the opposite of a problem, but I’ve found myself stuck - how do you navigate too much interest from outside parties? I work in a pretty niche subsection of software dev, so I field a lot of job offers/recruitment when people start to put together a new team. These are usually coming from managers/people I would be working with directly (and admire!) rather than recruiters. Generally the opportunities are something I could see myself doing one day, but I’m perfectly content in my role as-is for the time being. Where’s the line between expressing interest in future opportunities (emphasis on future) without stringing people along? How many “catch up” conversations are reasonable before it shifts from maintaining a relationship to active recruiting? Apologies if this comes across as a humble brag but I’m getting overwhelmed. Love the show, you rock 🤘

  2. I recently started a new position at a startup after being recruited by one of their senior leaders. Being a startup the company has had its ups and downs, including some layoffs within the last year. I am really loving the company so far, the people, the culture. They really seem to care about correcting past mistakes and listening to feedback from everyone. There is still a good amount of turnover among engineers and engineering managers. I’m sure some turnover is normal especially at startup. But at what point does it really become something I need to be concerned about? What questions should/can I ask to help me get a better picture of what is going on? Is there anything specific I should look out for that might be my cue to start creating a backup plan?

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Episode 261: Anxious about work and senior imposter

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. Hello, I have been working as a software developer for 10+ years now and recently took a job at a non-technical company.

    I was recruited to craft a web app for this company and thought they had an idea of what it means and the changes it may require.

    I am the only developer on the project. I feel like, either I’m not communicating well/at all, or they just simply don’t care about the work they recruited me for. I don’t have a good work/life balance since I’m always anxious when I receive an email from the company fearing someone will complain about the quality of my software. I feel isolated and unable to show how my work positively impacts the company

    Since I know my work is not perfect, I feel like I should not complain at all and just make my software bug-free. I’m doubting my abilities and starting to think I actually don’t know anything about Software Engineering.

    Because the company is non-technical, do I have the right to say that my work is that essential? What should I do so I don’t feel like crap every morning before going to work?

  2. In your last episode, you brought up a listener question about a developer of eight years accepting a senior developer position. I’m in a similar boat, but with far less experience. How much less? Well I’ve worked as a developer only for THREE. This is by no means a flex, but I’m kind of worried that I’m in over my head. There was little due diligence on my new supervisor’s side, so my trepidation is that I’ll be two/three months into my new job and they’ll look at my perf and see “this kid is not a senior at all”. I know, the classic imposter syndrome. I’ve been straight forward with my new supervisor about my experience level—or lack thereof—and they seemed not too worried about it. Do you guys have any advice for me going into this? What can I do to maximise this opportunity I’ve been given this early in my career? Love the show!