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

A speech bubble

Why should you listen?

Here's what listeners say:

Recent Episodes

Latest Episode

Episode 195: Ad-hoc promotion and quitting a huge company with Charity Majors

Download

We’re excited to have special guest Charity Majors on the show! Charity is the CTO and former CEO of Honeycomb. She has worked at Second Life, Parse, Facebook, and more. She blogs at charity.wtf.

Dave, Jamison, and Charity answer these questions:

  1. I’ve had the role of tech lead informally for the past two years at a fast-growing tech startup. We were a team of 6 developers, and now we are 16. Recently, we had a department meeting in which the Software Development VP communicated that we have 3 teams and I was the tech lead of two of them. I was surprised. He hasn’t mentioned his decision of splitting the teams nor that I’ve been officially promoted to tech lead. I was expecting a one-on-one where he would “pop the question”: Will you be my tech lead?

    I asked him privately if that meant I would be officially promoted and would have my title changed. He said that he was going to have this conversation with the HR Manager and would get back to me, but potentially.

    He doesn’t spend time on one-on-ones, nor is he very good at managing people although he’s good technically. How weird is this situation? A manager tells his team that they now have a tech lead along some org changes. I haven’t been informed, haven’t had my title changed yet, and haven’t been offered a raise yet.

  2. Hi! I love your show and have been listening to it almost since day one. I was an engineer for about 10 years, and I’ve been a manager for about 1 year, and I love my team. They’re high performers, we have a high level of trust. I also like my boss! But the larger org has some issues, and in time-honored Soft Skills Engineering tradition, I plan to quit. I would like to stay in management. So I have these questions:

    1) My employer is a very large public company. How much should I care about negative headlines and Wall Street’s opinion?

    2) How long should I stay in my role as a manager before looking for a new job?

    3) How do I message this to my team when I leave?

A smiling speech bubble

Episode 194: Leveling up through speaking and negativity

Download

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hey friends, thanks for such an entertaining show, I look forward to it every week.

    My question relates to ‘leveling up’ as a developer. I’ve been getting nice feedback for my work on projects and the blog post updates I’ve been writing along the way. This has been noticed by colleagues, managers and the local meetup organising committees in my city. I have now been asked to speak at a number of events internally and in the community. While I am very flattered they enjoy my writing I am not interested in hitting the local ‘speaking circuit’ and would prefer to focus on building, writing and mentoring without getting up on stage.

    Is it ‘ok’ to say no to speaking when it simply does not spin my wheels or is this a mandatory ‘thing’ I must get on board with to progress my career?

  2. I am a tech lead on a team where, for the most part, people are friendly, optimistic and professional. There is one engineer who is mostly upbeat and has shown real potential but in certain contexts, e,g, retros and the odd technical conversation becomes a crippling black hole of negativity. The person in question is quite young, relative to the rest of the team, has only ever worked at our company, they are well compensated and have great opportunities to work on exciting green field projects, every developers dream right?

    What could I be missing? I don’t want to lose this person but I can’t help but feel that they need to grow in maturity and somehow, despite pointed feedback, that’s not happening here.

    What do you think I should do to stop the chronic pessimism, which I’m afraid if not rectified soon will lead to more victims?

A smiling speech bubble

Episode 193: Playing the field and paying for speaking

Download

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I’ve been recently looking for summer internships and I have had a couple of video interviews. I don’t consider myself an interview rookie since I’ve had my fair share but there is one question I can’t understand whether to answer honestly or not so here it goes: “Are you applying to other job opportunities?”. The question is kind of stupid since no one puts all of its eggs in one basket but on the other hand I’m afraid answering ‘yes’ will make it seem as if I don’t care about the company (spoiler alert: I don’t really care :)). How do I answer honestly to this question and at the same time make them feel like they are special? By the way, love the podcast!

  2. Hi guys! I just started listening to your show and I already have experienced a steep improvement from a puny 10x dev to 11x one. My question, if you’ll be kind enough to answer is: How do I convince my cheapskate boss to sponsor me flying across the pond to give a talk at a conference I was selected for. Should I sponsor it myself in case of a decline? Should I hint at a possible job quitting if I am declined (I am currently seeking a new job)? Should I go forward with the talk if I do quit and the content of the talk is largely about the job I did there in the last couple of years.

    Note, I am widely regarded as an excellent employee by my superiors and colleagues. I earn quite a bit less than my current value and I am currently back, looking for a job.

    That’s it from me, love you guys!