325 episodes

It takes more than great code to be a great engineer. Soft Skills Engineering is a weekly advice podcast for software developers about the non-technical stuff that goes into being a great software developer.

Soft Skills Engineering Jamison Dance and Dave Smith

    • Technology
    • 4.8 • 227 Ratings

It takes more than great code to be a great engineer. Soft Skills Engineering is a weekly advice podcast for software developers about the non-technical stuff that goes into being a great software developer.

    Episode 324: Understanding accents and mega soft skills

    Episode 324: Understanding accents and mega soft skills

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    I’m currently a junior engineer. I often struggle to understand speakers with accents. I became aware of this when I listened to a coworker in a meeting and barely understanding anything, but when I asked my other colleagues, it seems they got it completely.


    I know how to handle this in relaxed situations, but how do I handle it when the stakes are higher? (i.e. talking to higher levels and not wanting to ask too many questions based on my inability to hear them, interviews, …). How should I prepare to respond to these situations productively?



    Hey fellas,


    As a backend dev of 3 YOE, I have what I would describe as average technical skills and much stronger than average soft skills. This has been reflected in my feedback across all of my jobs and while the feedback has always been very positive, almost all of it relates to my interpersonal and communication skills, as opposed to my technical chops.


    I’m wondering what’s the long term outlook for this is? I frequently receive more accolades and recognition from leadership than my colleagues whose technical skills and code output are objectively far superior to mine, simply because I communicate better and am more charismatic


    Given management’s favorable view of me, I have been ascending the ranks quicker than is warranted, beating out those that are much more qualified from a technical perspective. While I am able to complete the work that’s asked of me, I can’t help but wonder when I will stall as a dev and no longer be able to meet expectations, nor is it really fair to anyone involved.


    At this point, I can’t help but feel that I would be able to contribute more in a position that utilize my skillset more favorably, but I’m unsure what roles would be a good fit for someone like myself.


    Thanks guys!

    • 28 min
    Episode 323: Shopping offers and returning equipment

    Episode 323: Shopping offers and returning equipment

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    I’m planning to leave my job purely because of low compensation. I like my growth in my current company - but low compensation than what market is offering is quite a mental hiccup in my regular work (yep! I’m slowly becoming one of the quiet quitters). I’m thinking of going to my manager with my new offer and ask him to match it. Do retention offers actually work? As mangers yourselves, how would you want me to approach a retention discussion? I don’t want my manager to make my life hell under the pretense of “Oh he’ll leave in a year” if I do decide to stay after taking the matching offer.
    Love the show - pretty much my single source of wisdom for all my behavioural interviews xD



    I was recently let go from a company. They said they would send me a shipping label so that I could return the hardware. I didn’t hear back from them for a week. A few days later a label came in for the laptop, but not for the dock or the two monitors they also sent.


    I did not enjoy my experience there and I’m feeling resentful at having to pester them so that I can get what I need to send them back their hardware.


    What is my due diligence on the score? I don’t even like the monitors.

    • 26 min
    Episode 322: Cover blown and no one cares

    Episode 322: Cover blown and no one cares

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    Listener Olexander asks,


    I was a tech lead on some relatively known project since the beginning for more than a year. I made several trade-offs with technologies and wrong decisions. I participate in some generic Slack organisations and met several users of my product. I haven’t told them that I was connected to implementing the project but sometimes shared some insights on how the product is tested and asked opinions about some of features of the product in comparison to the competitors. Now there is a person who continuously critiques the product. Sometimes the criticism is valid but sometimes is’s just a rant. How can I influence that person without blowing my cover?



    Listener Kieran asks,


    Hi guys! Loving the podcast from down under. I’m working part time as a dev while I complete my software engineering degree. It’s been fun, but there are almost no processes in place for development and not many other devs seem to care about improvement.


    Although I am the most inexperienced here I feel some of the devs do not care about the quality of the work as I often have to refactor some of their code due to it being buggy, slow and undocumented (still using var in javascript).


    I’ve talked to management about improving our standards. However, they brushed me off saying yeah some of the developers are stubborn. They are not brushing me off because I lack technicality as Ive been given an end user app as a solo project. How should I go about encouraging the team to improve our processes?

    • 28 min
    Episode 321: Politely, no and participation at scale

    Episode 321: Politely, no and participation at scale

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    How do you politely tell a reviewer politely, “Your suggestion is stupid. I will not do it” when you get stupid review comments. If you don’t do it then the pull request can’t move forward because of unresolved issues. If you do it, then you’re compromising your design you’ve worked weeks on for some fly-by random comment.



    A few months back, I volunteered as co-facilitator for my department’s NodeJS Guild meeting. At first, it was a struggle to get people to present. But I tried to lower the bar more and more until it was easy. I asked for 10-15m presentations, and eventually I realized people are happier “Kicking off a discussion” than they are “giving a presentation”. All the listeners are more engaged too, at least after the first 2 meetings doing this.


    Now I want people to share half-baked code, or problems they are struggling with, as part of our discussions. I want people to be able to be vulnerable. If we don’t collaborate on common problems until we feel they’re polished and won’t reflect badly on us, then we will all waste time solving the same problems.


    I also want this to scale across 15-25 small scrum teams. I think success could be my demise–if we have good discussions, then more people will come, but people won’t want to be as vulnerable with a larger group.


    In general, I think my own scrum team is very open and vulnerable to each other, but the remote work in the deparment has created distance. I want to help create more collaboration on similar problems and solutions.


    What would you do to keep this going, and improve it?

    • 30 min
    Episode 320: Hot and less hot and no privileges

    Episode 320: Hot and less hot and no privileges

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    I seem to be very hot and cold about how I feel about my job. Some days I hate it and think about quitting, but other days, I feel it’s not that bad and can stick around a little longer. The reason for it seems to change depending on the day, but a lot of it seems to center around the people around me (i.e. developers who need me to Google for them, business people who don’t understand how to provide requirements), but sometimes I can’t tell whether it’s an attitude problem that will follow me anywhere or if it’s just time to leave. It’s a relatively small company, so I feel like I would be betraying my manager who has invested a lot in me if I decided to leave so suddenly. I’d like to give my manager a chance to address my concerns, but I’m afraid to sour our relationship if I come across as a complainer. I’m also not confident there’s any solutions to my current frustrations because it seems to be a company-wide issue. How do I make sense of all of what I’m feeling?



    I really like my company but their project management is atrocious, ad hoc, and “old school.” They’re not giving me privileges to configure Jira in ways that allow me to get stuff done.


    Is there an effective way to convince my CTO that I’m not going to screw up our secure systems or do I just need to find a new job?

    • 27 min
    Episode 319: Steve's babysitter and these uncertain times

    Episode 319: Steve's babysitter and these uncertain times

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    My company wants several complex applications rewritten. “Steve” wrote the original applications, and has been assigned to do the rewrite. There is very little documentation on the original applications, and the rewrite will take intimate understanding of the existing code and new requirements.


    Management assigned me to work with Steve. They warned me that since we have started working remotely after covid, Steve has been hard to get a hold of and not meeting deadlines. My job is to keep Steve on task.


    When I ask Steve a question he will respond “I’ll work on it tomorrow” or “I’ll have to look in to that.” Then I never hear from him again. If I tell management I haven’t been able to get a hold of him, they will contact him, then he will contact me asking “What can I help you with?” Again, all his answers will be “I’ll have to look into that.”


    Occasionally Steve will report to me that he has finished a task. But because he did it without me, I am even more confused about what needs done or how to do it.


    I feel like my job has turned in to tattling on Steve. I am afraid I’m going to be labeled a whiner and that this project will harm my career growth.


    Over the last 2 weeks my solution has been to just ignore the project. Management hasn’t checked in with me, but I’m sitting on a ticking time bomb.


    What should I do?



    How to keep our sanity in times of uncertainty? I’ve recently changed jobs and despite the facts shows that I shouldn’t be worried, I can see my judgement is blurred by the fear of getting laid off even there’s no sign of it and I fear I would fulfill the prophecy!

    • 37 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
227 Ratings

227 Ratings

Lh15770 ,

They are super geeky and super funny

These guys are super geeky and super funny!

Highly recommend as a light technical podcast

rcc777777 ,

Good content, a bit too silly

Listening to episode 304 as my first episode. Feels like the content is great, but my feedback to the hosts is that you’re being a bit too silly and it’s making it hard to focus on the wisdom.

Will nickname not taken angel ,

Car talk for software!

These guys are funny and educational!

Cartalk for software developers!

Really good stuff.

You Might Also Like

Changelog Media
Jonathan Cutrell
The Stack Overflow Podcast
Software Engineering Daily
Allen Underwood, Michael Outlaw, Joe Zack
se-radio@computer.org