258 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 • 177 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 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
    Episode 253: Not coding after 2 years and fake data scientists

    Episode 253: Not coding after 2 years and fake data scientists

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


    Questions



    Thanks for the show, I absolutely love getting awkward glances from people when I LOL randomly in public places.


    I’ve been at my first job for 2 years, including an internship. The work I got to do as an intern was absolutely brilliant and I learned new things almost every day. Then I joined as a full-time employee, and things were good at first.


    For the past year, things have gone downhill.


    I barely get to write code and spend most of my time reviewing and writing documents in excel and word.


    I find this unsatisfying and can barely get the work assigned to me done due to lack of motivation and interest.


    However, I am fairly convinced that the compensation and other perks I get here, as well as the coworkers and management here are some of the best I could find.


    Should I follow the soft skills advice and quit, or should I stick around because of the other favourable conditions I mentioned? In other words, how should I decide between satisfying work vs the favourable conditions?



    Hi, I am a data scientist. I work on a team of about 30 other data scientists. It’s a new team and I have determined after talking to everyone for a few weeks, that about 1/3 of the team does not know Python, 2 even admitting to me privately they lied in the interview, and probably 50-60% have no idea what git is. I feel like they hired a bunch of excel, tableau, business-y people and assumed any experience with data qualified you to do data science. You may say “quit your job” but this is my first job out of college and I don’t think I could find another easily. Do I tell my manager about this? How do I teach them these things? I’ve already had to pick up a lot of slack on the team, luckily since I have no kids, no girlfriend, a ton of free time, and have been coding since middle school it’s been manageable, but I’m concerned about how to handle this going forward.

    • 33 min
    Episode 252: Impossible documentation and unexcited coworkers

    Episode 252: Impossible documentation and unexcited coworkers

    In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:


    Questions



    How do I incentivize people to maintain documentation?


    Getting anything done at this large enterprise company is a massive challenge because documentation is constantly out of date and people only have half the information needed. So much time gets wasted because people have contradicting knowledge about the status of projects, systems, or requirements.


    Should I just quit my job or can this be fixed?



    Greetings! First off, great show - thanks for the countless episodes, most of which result in me getting weird looks as I chuckle to myself while running and listening. I have a passion for technology which lead me to a career in development. I am very often researching new languages and software that will help us do our jobs and/or lives better in my free time. I get excited about these things I find and want to share them with my co-workers but often get rebuffed by them, asking me why I spend my free time “working”. I know I can’t expect everyone to share my enthusiasm and passion for this stuff, but I am finding it discouraging being on a team where this curiosity is not celebrated/encouraged. I love the company I work for and don’t want to leave, but I find myself becoming more and more disconnected from my team because of this. Any suggestions on how I can share my passion with my co-workers is a way that is mutually beneficial to me and them? Thanks, keep up the great work!




    Show notes

    Gary Bernhardt’s WAT video from 2012: https://www.destroyallsoftware.com/talks/wat

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
177 Ratings

177 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!

Top Podcasts In Technology

Listeners Also Subscribed To