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 243: Saying no and conference

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. Quite often my manager writes me in the morning: hey, can you help the team with this thing? And sometimes it happens so that I know no more than “the team” about the thing, and actually there’s no way in the world I can help them, but everyone assumes that I am some kind of expert in it. Where did they get that impression? This is so irritating!

    I absolutely love to be asked for help when what I’m asked for is kind of “my thing”.

    But in some cases, I can’t just say “hey, this is not really my specialty, I will be more of a burden here”, because everyone would think that I’m just lazy or unwilling to help. And then I sit and struggle through the process of everyone asking me questions I obviously don’t know answers to, and I try to guess or figure out these answers, and I suffer because I don’t meet everyone else’s expectations, and everyone else suffers because no one knows what to do, and it goes on and on and on… I don’t know about you - do you find yourself in such situations and what do you do if you do?

  2. My company just asked me if I’m interested in going to a conference that’s about a month away, but I’m currently in the process of job hunting and don’t know if I’m going to be around for much longer than a month. What do I do? It feels dishonest to go and then leave the company shortly after. But it also feels dishonest to say “Nope! Not interested!” because I actually would like to go. There’s also the benefit that people often are recruiting at conferences so it might be a great place to be for that.

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Episode 242 (Episode 131 re-run): Stinky feet and high salary expectation

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It’s one more re-run before we are back with new stuff! Enjoy this episode from November 2018, back when Tiger King didn’t yet exist.

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. I sit in a desk with 3 other people. One of those people does a great job of personal hygiene…the other two not so much. I have dropped a couple of hints about it (I mentioned it is a good idea not to wear the same pair shoes/trainers every day so you’re feet don’t start to smell). Some days, my stomach will churn from the smells that inevitably waft over. What should I do - I am worried if I tell my boss to talk to them, he will mark me as a troublemaker/overly sensitive.

    To make things worse, one of them sits opposite and puts his feet under my desk, so the, let’s be frank, absolutely awful stench is right under my nose! :?

    It’s not just feet by the way, we are talking the full BO experience.

  2. I was at a interview recently. When being asked for expected salary. I mentioned a number lot more than what the company was expecting. It’s already been a week and I haven’t received a response from them. I really really love the company and the project they are working on. I would love to to contact the HR personal and tell that I am interested in the position even if it means less money. How do I approach the situation? I don’t want to mess it up more than I already have. 🙁

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Episode 241 (Rerun of 184): Indispensable and IT cold war

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. How do you quit when you’re indispensable to the team?

    I am the lead developer at a startup. I have a small team of 3 developers under me. I am essentially the “person who wrote all the code”. I have an offer from another startup for more money and more percentages of the company and they want me over there asap.

    I’m afraid to quit this startup as I fear that it’s not yet at a place where it could survive without me. I realize that sounds super egotistical but unfortunately I don’t have a successor ATM and none of the other developers are at a level where I could potentially train them to be my successor in the time frame I have with the other offer.

    The other sticky thing is that the current startup probably doesn’t have enough money to hire someone at my level for what they’d actually be worth. I, and the rest of the team, are severely underpaid, as this is a bootstrapped startup. Love your show, would love to hear your guys’ take on this.

  2. I recently interned at a local factory to help clean up some broken 20 year old databases. After remaking them, I quickly became a rising star and word spread fast of my aptitude. I was offered a full time salary position, in which I was able to negotiate for some special privileges and a cool title: software engineer.

    I am having an awesome time building little tools for various departments while learning different languages. I’ve been very fulfilled with the projects and recognition I’ve been getting, there’s just one problem: the IT department absolutely despises me. They see my sole existence as an affront to their entire structure. I am a part of the engineering team and work very closely with product and process engineers, which is apparently hurtful to their ego.

    Lately, IT has been actively obstructing every project I work on and refusing many requests, sometimes with obviously false excuses. I do not have admin privileges, I have limited internet access, I’m not even allowed to have my email password. It’s at a point where I start getting serious anxiety when I need to see IT (e.g. to install a framework or IDE extension).

    How can I navigate these awful encounters without letting it harm my view on the rest of the job? I am feeling like I need to wage war but I want to retain my golden boy status.