260 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 • 179 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 259: Moving up to meetings and will remote work stay a thing?

    Episode 259: Moving up to meetings and will remote work stay a thing?

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


    Questions



    This question came with a delightful ASCII-art diagram that I will now dictate as follows: “pipe space space space space” JK


    TLDR: I want to move up the ranks but I’m not sure what might await me… except meetings. What should I expect? And how do I get there?


    Too Small, Want MOAR!
    I work in a big enterprise as a Tech Lead in an ““agile team””. So day-to-day I focus on getting our team to build the current feature we’re meant to be building (eg by helping other devs, attending meetings, and sometimes writing code). The next step for my career would be what we call an “Engineering Lead” but I’m having a hard time figuring out what that role actually is and our “EL” is so slammed with meetings I’m afraid to take any of their time to ask… SO - Dave & Jamison, can you enlighten me? What might the goals and life be of someone at that level and how would someone who still codes every day(ish) start figuring out what to do to get there?


    P.S. It’s taken me about 4 years but I’ve finally managed to listen to every single SSE episode! (I have a kid, binging podcasts isn’t possible for me).
    P.P.S. In an interview recently I was asked ““What’s the most valuable piece of advice you were ever given?”” to which I replied ““To negotiate for better benefits in job interviews, got it from a podcast called ‘Soft Skills Engineering’””. The interviewer thought that was cool, subscribed to your podcast during the interview then REFUSED TO NEGOTIATE ON ANYTHING! >:(



    Living in a small town my options as a software engineer have been limited to working for one company straight out of uni for 7 years. Wanting to develop in my career, and knowing you have advised others in the past to move on from their first job out of uni. What is your opinion of seeking out and switching jobs into remote work? Will this provide the same development value found in a traditional job switch, especially after the impact COVID has had on the way companies see remote work.

    • 22 min
    Episode 258: Addicted to scrolling and underpaid with equity

    Episode 258: Addicted to scrolling and underpaid with equity

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


    Questions



    Listener “Scrolly McScroll-Face” asks,


    Hi Team! Love the show. Keep up the great work and congrats on 256 episodes!


    I think I’m addicted to my phone? Every time my code goes to build, or something I know I need to wait on, I open my phone and start scrolling. 40 seconds later when the build is done, I’m still scrolling. In between thoughts, I also open youtube in new tab fairly regularly.


    It’s definitely gotten worse while working at home during these times. I’m surely not alone in this slipping of discipline….


    I’ve tried to put my phone in the next room and that has some success, but I don’t always remember to do that. Do you have any tips? Anything you’ve seen while managing folks?


    I love my job and I love the work, so I dont think I’m not engaged enough, and I struggle to see how a different job would engage me more.



    Hi I am the under-leveled engineer from episode 240, and I want to provide an update and ask a follow up question.


    I was promoted in this cycle, and because of my shyness I used Jamison’s favorite problem solving technique of doing nothing prior to my review, my compensation in the new level is also underwhelming. Or is it?


    Comparing my pay with some data point on levels.fyi, my salary is slightly below average. As part of my promotion, I have another equity award, and that is also slightly below average compared to the data points on the site. However, I already have an existing equity award granted to me when I started at my previous level. It is unclear to me if the data points on the site have taken into account for an internal promotion vs an offer extended to an external candidate. If I add in the previous equity awards and my compensation in this new level, then my total seems too be way out of band, on the good side.


    Digging into it more, there are other sites and blog posts that talk about things like refreshers and bonuses. These are brand new concepts to me since my previous jobs only pay salary, event the tech jobs in middle America. Could you talk about how compensation is structured in the big leagues?

    • 31 min
    Episode 257: Oops I didn't negotiate and really another raise question

    Episode 257: Oops I didn't negotiate and really another raise question

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


    Questions



    I’m currently in my first job as a software engineer. Before working full time, I worked at the company as an intern, and during the last few weeks of my internship the engineering manager asked ““We want to bring you on full time. What are your salary expectations?”” Naive me, not wanting to cause any trouble, responded with a very moderate number. They give an offer that was 10% less, but with ““really good benefits,”” so I accepted.


    Just over one year later, I feel like I’ve proven my value to be substantially more than what I asked for, and I know I’m making 10-30% less than my peers. A couple weeks ago, I had my salary review, and rather than the management being open to negotiation (which is what I had expected going in) they just told me ““You’ll be making 4% more this year.””


    After the meeting, I mentioned to my manager that I felt that the raise wasn’t representative of the value that I would be giving the company. He responded that they pay ““Within expected ranges for my job title and experience.”” I was a little hurt by this, because I want to be paid based on the value that I provide, not based on my title or experience. I don’t think I should quit the job, because I get along well with the team, enjoy my work, and they are paying for my master’s tuition on the side. What should I do?



    Hear ye hear ye, Gods of podcasts, I have a question for thees! I think my salary is ok, £60k (UK) and I’ve brought up the subject of raises a couple of times with my boss (2 years ago and 1 year ago) - both times I was told I’m doing pretty well but they’ll look into it. So far no sign of a raise but I’m not annoyed, I really like my job and the people I work with are great.


    I’m now on paternity leave and have taken the time to do some interviewing to see what’s out there and keep my skills sharp. Turns out I could earn a lot more! Who knew!? I’m now caught between going back to my boss with these other offers to say ““actually no, turns out I’m not doing great, gimmi more money”” or quitting my job for more money but a potentially worse job… help! How do I say ““more money please or I leave”” but nicely?

    • 25 min
    Episode 256: No degree ceiling and reverse whippersnappers

    Episode 256: No degree ceiling and reverse whippersnappers

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


    Questions



    Hiya, thank you for the show. It’s very insightful and both of you are pretty charismatic. Without getting too much into details I had a number of difficulties when I was younger which caused me to never finish my computer science degree. I took a job as a Business Intelligence analyst because I needed to move out. Fast forward a few years and I am now an Engineering Manager for one of the biggest companies in the UK - nearly 2000 engineers and around 100.000 employees overall.


    I consider myself incredibly successful for my age, just turned 30. I manage two teams(11 and 4 ppl) that are seen as the top performers in the Data Engineering department, and that is credited to my leadership.


    I’ve always been very self conscious of the degree situation. I’ve tried to finish it online a couple times but I simply can’t find how. I am now being asked to apply to my boss’ position as Senior Engineering Manager, which could mean being responsible of 6 teams of around 10 people average and a sizeable budget.


    I live in constant anxiety from the possibility of hitting a ceiling or being confronted about the degree situation. While I didn’t hide it on the interview process It’s not something I advertise at all but I got to a point where I just don’t know what to do about it. And so that would be my question: What would you advice for someone in my position?



    I’m working at a small company where we used to have 2 developers. Both of us had at least 10 years of professional experience and both of us are around 28 years old. A few months ago, our bosses decided to hire 3 new FE devs and all of them come from bootcamp.


    That wouldn’t be so unusual, but all of them are 35+ years old and have families and basically just 6 months of experience. This causes a lot of friction in our team. We’re trying to “mentor” them in best practices and experience we’ve gained over time, but sometimes they don’t accept it, because we’re just too young for them (in one case 10 years younger).


    Do you have any tips how to approach “mentorship” when it comes from younger to older dev? And how to overcome the 10 year barrier?




    Show Notes
    https://www.simscale.com/blog/2017/12/nasa-mars-climate-orbiter-metric/


    https://money.cnn.com/2012/05/13/technology/yahoo-ceo-out/index.htm

    • 31 min
    Episode 255: Only positive feedback and overworked and siloed

    Episode 255: Only positive feedback and overworked and siloed

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


    Questions



    Hey there! Thank you so much for the amazing podcast.


    In my current job I work with an incredible (and very strong technically) team, and I like working with my manager a lot. BUT, during all 1:1s, and annual reviews the feedback is always that I am doing a great job and there is never a negative nor constructive criticism. However, I have been waiting for a promotion for more than a year, I never get assigned to the shinier and more challenging tasks/projects, and for the merit review I was put in the “good” bucket (not great, not the best).


    So, if I am always doing a great job, what else can I do to get this promotion and be trust worthy of shining projects?



    Jon asks,


    I’m having a hard time at work. There is so much to do my team can barely spare the time to collaborate on anything. Even when I ask for help, the overwhelming stress usually results in a snarky response.


    I’ve been working here for a year under these conditions and I’ve learned a lot but we never talk to each other…I feel like I still don’t have the whole picture because I’ve basically never been onboarded. I want to collaborate with my team but either the organizational structure or sheer amount of work is keeping us in silos. Trying to break them down usually lands me in the dog house.


    What the heck do I do now? I feel like if I stay I’ll only ever get year 1 dev experience, but I also feel like I’ll be totally useless to any real development team.

    • 25 min
    Episode 254: Code makes my body hurt and level madness

    Episode 254: Code makes my body hurt and level madness

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


    Questions



    Hi
    I just listened to your most recent podcast and you mentioned having gone to hand therapy for what I assume is something like repetitive strain injury. It would be great if you could talk about this, I assume lots of engineers have issues with aching arms and hands. Or, to phrase it as a question “my hands often ache after coding for hours. I can no longer work in bed on a laptop or my hands ache for a few days. what did you find out at hand therapy?”


    Cheers!



    I am at a large (non FAANG) tech company. We have salary levels/bands. My entire team was laid off, and I was offered a job that is three bands higher with another team. They said usually they would not hire someone of my level, but since they had worked with me before and I was a heavy individual contributor they were willing to interview me for this senior position. By the end of the process they decided I was the most qualified candidate and offered me the job. They don’t want to increase my level at all. This is displeasing to me. I was the most qualified candidate, why not offer me the higher level as well? If an external candidate was the most qualified, they would have offered that person the higher level. Unfortunately, I believe that since I did not negotiate on my initial offer when entering the company my perceived worth is tied to my compensation and low seniority level. How do I broach that I think this is unfair (or that they should increase my salary)?


    As additional information, I was given a raise by the previous team’s manager of 20k in January as I found out I was the least compensated on the team by 30k and I got upset at my boss because only about half the team had ever made a commit to any repo and most have no understanding of OOP. Perhaps this is why the team was cut. I feel my company might find it weird to see my salary increase twice in one year and reject for that reason.


    I feel you’re going to tell me to quit and find another job, but I have worked with the new team and can attest that they are kind, smart, have good engineering practices, and are given a lot of attention because they do AI, so it’s not an opportunity I want to miss out on.


    Thanks, love your show, it’s like car talk for the 21st century.




    Show Notes
    Voice Driven Development:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKuRkGkf5HU


    Patrick McKenzie’s article on salary negotiation:
    https://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

    • 32 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
179 Ratings

179 Ratings

@k_roll242 ,

Yay! Yay!

I have a tech podcast and am a software engineer!! Much kudos to y’all. Love the show!!!

Zack Betz ,

Good stuff

As a software engineer, it's nice to hear your usual struggles discussed (especially things I thought only I struggled with). These guys have fun and slip in good advice.

Jdfdjgk ,

Awesome humans

You can really tell that these guys are great to work with. Great sense of humor, and always make an effort to see the human side, sometimes before the jokes. Haha!

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