198 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

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 197: Rambling co-worker and awkward resume leak

    Episode 197: Rambling co-worker and awkward resume leak

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    Help! I have a co-worker who can’t get to the point. They keep rambling, throwing in useless jargon, with veiled bragging of their knowledge and accomplishments, and answering questions that weren’t asked; and all in a very monotone voice. My brain starts to zone out now every time they start in to “explain” something.


    They also somehow survived at the company for 8+ years and have recently become a team lead. Our paths don’t cross every day because we work on separate products, but I am interested in their team’s product and might want to join them in a year or so.


    What do I do?



    Listener Zezima asks,


    Hi! I’ve been at my current job for about a year and a half now. My boss says we should be getting more money and investors and will soon give everyone a raise. I’ve seen many people being hired and others given a raise but have not yet received one myself.
    I recently started applying to other jobs. I don’t want to leave but want to learn my market value and get a slight increase.
    I was demoing some work in a meeting, and sharing my screen to do so. As I went to upload an image…. my RESUME file is open.
    resume,coverletter,resumeadobe,resumeTesla. I mashed the cancel button and bounced in to panic mode but continued like nothing happened. I hear some typing shortly after closing. Did they see it? Are they talking about me…? Do they know I dont want to leave but just want some sort of compensation? These questions are going through my brain and I have no clue what to do. Should I call up the people in the demo and have a heart to heart?

    • 28 min
    Episode 196: "Offshore resources" and ageist layoffs

    Episode 196: "Offshore resources" and ageist layoffs

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    Hi, thank you for the great podcast!


    I work for a software consultancy as a senior product manager. For 5+ years, our team of 40 designers, developers and QA has designed, built, deployed, and operated a large SaaS platform. We are passionate about evolving the product, know the domain well and managed to improve a lot of processes in the client’s company. We go way beyond “just development”.


    The problem is that the client’s internal staff treats us poorly, especially when it comes to product decisions. As a product manager, I have all the responsibilities of a respective in-house specialist, but almost no power. When I refuse to prioritize a feature that does not make sense based on data and user research, the client’s customer success reps go crazy and escalate it to the CEO. I have seen email threads where internal employees call us “offshore resources”…


    How can I change this situation? I don’t want to leave this job because I really like the product I am working on, as well as the team.


    Thank you!



    Connor asks: “I recent round of layoffs at my company has me thinking about my future as a software engineer. Every layoff I’ve been through, the more tenured employees are the ones let go. I also, generally speaking, haven’t seen a lot of older software engineers (50+) in the companies I have worked for. I love programming, but can I reasonably expect to stay employable in this field for the next forty years?

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

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

    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:




    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.



    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?

    • 33 min
    Episode 194: Leveling up through speaking and negativity

    Episode 194: Leveling up through speaking and negativity

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    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?



    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?

    • 27 min
    Episode 193: Playing the field and paying for speaking

    Episode 193: Playing the field and paying for speaking

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    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!



    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!

    • 25 min
    Episode 192: Giving feedback and messaging a team change

    Episode 192: Giving feedback and messaging a team change

    Hey, want to use Dropbox as your app’s production database? Well, check here.


    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:




    Hello Dave & Jamison, first of all thank you for the show! I recently moved to a tech lead position and as such I will be asked by many people to provide feedbacks for performance reviews and promotions. Do you have any tip on how to provide good feedbacks, especially in the cases where you don’t constantly work with the interested people?



    Hello, guys! Thank you so much for the amazing content produced. I really enjoy the show. Thanks for the laughs and the knowledge.”


    I am a backend software developer working on a multidisciplinary team. There’s this other developer that really gets on my nerves. To maintain my sanity I am asking to change teams, and people keep asking me why I want to change. Should I tell my manager the real reason or is it better to say that I want new challenges? Maybe my manager can solve the problem and no one else leaves the team (I am not the first one to leave for this reason)

    • 34 min

Customer Reviews

Version_3 ,

I love the info they put out

As someone trying to build their soft skills, this podcast is amazingly informative while entertaining. The best part is being able to incorporate the things they discuss into my daily work interactions.

cbonaco ,

Less laughing, more talking

Less laughing at each other’s jokes, more talking about engineering

andylin. ,

Awesome!

Funny, helpful, and informative!

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