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 330: Mixed signals and not ready for senior


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Dan asks,

    Hey friends! How do you get ahead when your manager gives you mixed signals? I was told there would be lots of opportunities to work on exciting new projects when I interviewed for this role. After six months this hasn’t really happened and I’m beginning to get concerned it never will. Half the team is working on ‘new things’ while the rest of us are working on maintenance work. This is meant to be rotated but my colleagues tell me this isn’t the case. I’ve asked my manager in our one on ones if I can work on the next piece of new work but have got some odd responses. They told me if I want to work on better projects I should look in my managers calendar and invite myself to anything that looks good. This seems bizarre. Is it normal to lurk your managers calendar and just turn up at meetings that ‘look good’?

  2. I’ve worked at small but mature companies for about 3 years now, and I feel that I’m soon coming to the point where you would expect me to be a senior engineer given my years of experience (which I’m aiming for!). I’ve struggled a lot to come up with ideas to add value to the team outside of the standard sprint tickets. I know these things aren’t “required” in the job scope, but often with teams at smaller companies, I worry my manager might think I’m not ready for a senior role if I’m not actively thinking outside the box about the team’s goals beyond the tickets I’ve been assigned.

    I do have a lot of initiative and independence, but the thing is I’m just not very creative. As much as I love tech, it’s difficult for me to dream of non-trivial ideas that would actually make an impact. I feel that if I want to progress in my career, I’m going to have to get better at seeing the bigger picture. What tips might you have?

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Episode 329: Falling behind and can't get a management job


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I’m a few months into my first full time job, and the learning curve is immense. I feel like I’m falling behind and not keeping up with my work, as well as not understanding things that should be simple. I often feel I am wasting time on a lot of work that I do. How do I know if this is just an anxious feeling, or if I am legitimately falling behind?

  2. I am currently a staff engineer and have a career goal to move into management. I have been with my current employer for 15+ years and positions to promote into just don’t come up. The tech i work with is not very technical, there is no coding and its incredibly specialized. I have applied and interviewed for manager positions outside of my team/company and i get the same feedback that i am well qualified, but there is someone with previous manager experience that beats me. I see it being forever if not impossible to get a manager position due to people needing to retire etc. If i go to another engineering position i feel like i would need to start over in a junior spot. What other options do i have.

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Episode 328: Fear of sudden firing and reducing the lottery factor


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I’ve joined a team at a small startup and our team lead has mentioned in passing a few times about a developer they used to have but had to let go. Not in a malicious way but just as a matter of fact when it’s come up organically. Now it’s eating at me because I’m not sure if I’ll ever go down that path and I want to know what they did so I can avoid the same fate. I’ve always been a top performer at other companies but now I’m wondering if this would be the one place where standards are higher than what I’m used to. I really like it here and don’t want to lose my spot. Realistically my fear isn’t that I’d get fired in my first six months but more that I would fail to respond to constructive feedback over the course of a year and end up getting let go in the same manner. Do you have any advice?

  2. Hello! Long time lurker, first time question server.

    I am an intermediate software engineer and I work on a team that has a really tenured senior engineer. His attention is often required for a lot of things and the team can sometimes get blocked by him being pulled into many different directions.

    As someone that is trying to grow into a senior engineer myself, what are some ways to take some of the load off of him and improve the bus factor?