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Rank #180 in Technology category

Technology

Soft Skills Engineering

Updated 4 days ago

Rank #180 in Technology category

Technology
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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.

Read more

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.

iTunes Ratings

128 Ratings
Average Ratings
123
3
0
0
2

Dope

By ChronicleDecay1 - Oct 12 2018
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One of my favorites. You guys are hilarious

I enjoy this podcast

By Luke Westby - Jun 12 2017
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I frequently listen to the episodes

iTunes Ratings

128 Ratings
Average Ratings
123
3
0
0
2

Dope

By ChronicleDecay1 - Oct 12 2018
Read more
One of my favorites. You guys are hilarious

I enjoy this podcast

By Luke Westby - Jun 12 2017
Read more
I frequently listen to the episodes

Listen to:

Cover image of Soft Skills Engineering

Soft Skills Engineering

Updated 4 days ago

Read more

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 3: What to look for in a dev team

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In episode 3, Jamison and Dave answer two questions:

  1. What should I look for in a dev team?

  2. I don’t get enough done at work. I work on a small team that has aggressive plans for developing its product, but I don’t feel like I get enough work done or move fast enough for the company.

Mar 21 2016

25mins

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Episode 85: Annoying Know-it-alls and Company Headshots

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This week Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

  1. One of my co-workers is a know-it-all, which is pretty annoying. How do I work with them?
  2. A former employer still has my photo on their team website eight years after I left. How do I get them to take it down?

Nov 30 2017

24mins

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Episode 48: Quitting a Death March & Am I Underpaid

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Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. When and how do you quit a company that is on a death march?
  2. How do I find out if I’m underpaid?

Feb 21 2017

32mins

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Episode 6: Speaking at Conferences

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In episode 6, Jamison and Dave answer this question:

I’d like to do some public speaking. How do I get accepted to speak at conferences? How do I give good talks once I’m there?

Apr 11 2016

25mins

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Episode 12: Making friends at work and how to be good at being managed

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In episode 12, Jamison, Dave, and special guest Ann Harter answer these questions:

How do I make friends at work? Should I?

I hear a lot about being a good manager but not much about being managed. How do I do that?

May 23 2016

25mins

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Episode 79: Story Point Misses and Measuring Productivity

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This week Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

  1. It seems like my teams always miss their story point commitments. Is this normal? How do you change it?
  2. How do you actually measure developer productivity?

The article comparing research on productivity in static and dynamic type systems is here. It is a great read.

Jamison also mentions Goodhart’s Law. Read more about it here.

Oct 19 2017

38mins

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Episode 125: Brainstorming sessions and Slack Ettiquette

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hey guys! Do you have any tips for making ““brain storming sessions”” more bearable?

    In my experience, I’ve found that it’s very hard to keep this type of meeting productive. I don’t think this is necessarily anyone’s fault, and I love the idea of making sure all sorts of folks have a path to contribute, but many times when I’ve seen these types of meetings organized, many participants don’t have enough context, or subject matter expertise to produce genuinely helpful ideas.

    I think it’s really powerful when cross-discipline teams collaborate well on a project or feature, so I guess I’m wondering if there are practical ways to generate the culture of trust and mutual respect that is needed for this to actually work.

  2. First time question asker, long time listener here. We have a Really Important Problem at work: in Slack, people tend to use @channel instead of @here. What are some strategies for educating everyone that they should be using @here and not @channel? I especially don’t want anyone to feel shamed or called-out in the moment. Thanks!

Sep 24 2018

35mins

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Episode 88: How To Dress For Interviews and Learning To Interview

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This week Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

  1. How do you dress for interviews? Full on informal beach bum? Smart casual? Formal suit tie?
  2. I’m a new developer and have been asked to interview incoming developers. How do I learn how to interview?

This is the NoRedInk interview process. This is the blog post Jamison likes on getting data out of the technical portion of the interview. This is a slightly pessimistic look at pitfalls in the standard interview process. Google wrote a great article about structured interviewing that might also be helpful.

Dec 22 2017

38mins

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Episode 118: Asking For Help and Speaking Up

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. What is the right balance between asking for help and figuring things out on my own? How do I know when it’s time to ask questions or when it’s time to spend more time drilling down into the code?

  2. Been at my first job for a couple of years now, and I am very quiet in the workplace and still find it hard to open up, be assertive, and speak up in meetings.

    When I try to go out of my comfort zone (arguing about technical decisions, setting up and driving meetings), I don’t think my manager appreciates my efforts. I am told that I need to voice my opinions more and have more of a two-way conversation. I feel I’m not given concrete chances to improve, and it’s very demotivating. How should I deal in situations like this?

Job pitch time! Are you interested in working at Walmart Labs? Email Jamison at jamison.dance@walmartlabas.com!

Jul 30 2018

27mins

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Episode 51: Junior Scrum Master In Trouble And Jamison Has No Degree

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Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I’m a junior developer on a team of seniors, and I’m also the Scrum Master. Our team has lots of problems. What do I do?
  2. Jamison openly talks about not finishing his degree. How did he put it on his resume or explain it to potential employers?

In question two Jamison discovers he has been lying on his LinkedIn profile for half a decade, and freaks out a little bit. The mistake is corrected, but can the damage ever be undone? Tune in next week on SOFT SKILLS ENGINEERING.

Mar 15 2017

31mins

Play

Episode 28: How Long Should I Stay At My Job and How Do I Help Junior Developers Improve

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In episode 28, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

How long should I stay before I quit my job?

  • Two to three years seems fairly normal.
  • Dave sees people with less than 12 months regularly.
  • Staying at a job means you experience things you wouldn’t if you hopped around a lot.
  • It is much easier to see the hype cycle play out if you stick around.
  • You get to see the outcome of your own decisions.
  • Quitting usually == raise.
  • Chronic job hopping might result in a reputation of not sticking with things.
  • Dave thinks you should quit your first job after 18 months because of the Monty Hall problem

How do you encourage junior developers to improve?

  • We assume that these junior developers really want to improve.
  • Make it clear that people get stuck and struggle, and that is normal.
  • Make it clear that you don’t want them to get too stuck.
  • Make it OK to ask questions.
  • People generally live up or down to your expectations, so help them feel trusted and that you expect they will be great.
  • Make the outcome of their work clear.

Sep 26 2016

34mins

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Episode 65: Left In The Dust and Imposter Syndrome

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Jamison and Dave talk about these questions:

  1. I have a great, comfortable job that doesn’t push me very hard. How do I deal with worrying about being left in the dust?
  2. How do I deal with imposter syndrome?

Jun 22 2017

39mins

Play

Episode 24: Should I be a generalist or specialist developer?

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In episode 24, Jamison and Dave answer this question:

As a software developer, should I be a generalist or a specialist? This was inspired
by a Twitter conversation here:
https://twitter.com/iam_preethi/status/766758679743954944

Aug 29 2016

37mins

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Episode 144: Job hunting while employed and how to start my first technical lead role

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions along with special guest Jonathan Cutrell::

  1. I’ve been job hunting while employed (gasp), and I have a number of opportunities that have advanced to the in-person interview. Most of the requests I’ve seen have said that they’ll be 4-5 hours in the office (which seems fairly typical).

    The problem is that I don’t have unlimited vacation, and I feel dishonest taking so many days off. How can I navigate new opportunities without disrespecting them, or completely failing in my current responsibilities?

  2. Hey guys, great show (though I think, as with all shows, it could probably use more discussion of badgers [yes, I said badgers!]).

    I’m about to start a new job (I took the time-honored and hallowed show advice, though I’m leaving on great terms with my old job) and will be coming in as that fanciest of newly-invented titles in software, Staff Software Engineer. This is the only third time I’ve started a new job [not counting odd jobs in high school and college], and I’ve never stepped into a leadership role before when starting. What are the most helpful things you’ve done or seen other engineers do when joining a team in a technical leadership role?

    Thanks!

Follow Jonathan Cutrell on Twitter @jcutrell
and subscribe to the Developer Tea podcast: https://spec.fm/podcasts/developer-tea.

Feb 11 2019

33mins

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Episode 57: Disliking Management and Difficult Co-workers

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  1. I’ve been pushed in to doing management tasks I really don’t enjoy. What do I do?
  2. How do I handle a co-worker who I really struggle to get along with?

Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Apr 25 2017

34mins

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Episode 7: Finding meaning and quitting your job

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In episode 7, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

How do I quit my job? What’s the process? How do I avoid burning bridges? What will my employer expect from me? How do benefits work?

I’m worried my job is not meaningful? Am I just cranking out code for “the man”? What can I do to get more meaning out of my job?

Apr 18 2016

25mins

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Episode 137: How to get answers to technical questions and Should managers also be technical

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. What’s the best approach to connecting with people who know about specific technologies that could help me if I have a question? And what’s the best way to cast a net via co-workers, friends, & family?

    The details of my situation are that I’m trying to build a PostgreSQL database from scratch, and I’m running into lots of problems. I spent 2 hours digging through the Postgres documentation, I asked questions on my University Slack channel, and even the PostgreSQL team Slack with no answers. I also reached out to my boss. But I still have no answers.

    In any case, I’m just happy I had the wherewithal to walk away after 2 hours instead of spiraling into an absolute rage and wasting my night cursing PostgreSQL.

  2. Should a team lead do technical work or restrict himself to people management? What are the pros and cons from each approach?

    HR in my company wants to change from a unified model of team and tech leads (single person performing both roles) to a split model (one team lead with multiple tech leads that hold no people management responsibilities) and I’m not sure what to think about this. I feel not having the team leads ““on the ground”” will make them less effective in the people management aspect.

Dec 24 2018

27mins

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Episode 150: How to fight imposter syndrome as a technical lead and Getting in to meetups

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I worked for four years doing web development for a company while I got my degree, and loved it. I eventually became the lead developer because I had been on the team the longest.

    I thought it was really cool. I worked with the team to make organizational tech decisions, trained new hires, held regular meetings to discuss projects. After about 6 months, though, imposter syndrome started sneaking in and I felt like I was making things worse, not better. I figured the team needed someone who actually had senior level experience, and the pressure was getting to me. So I bailed.

    I’ve since had a few people approach me and say they want me to join their early-stage startup in a technical leadership position. I haven’t outright declined, but I’m nervous about being put in a position where the stakes are even higher.

    My question is if the pressure of being responsible for everything ever lessens. Is it something that gets better as you get more experience? Is everyone in technical leadership feeling this pressure and doing a good job to hide it? What can I do to gain the confidence to eventually lead another team?

  2. How do you step into the meetup scene? I have not attended one before, but the idea of them is interesting. However, there is this feeling that I would not fit in due to inexperience.

Mar 25 2019

28mins

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Episode 181: Blocked by back-end and tired of coding

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I recently took a job at a start-up as the only front-end developer. The distinction of front-end and back-end is new to me as all of my previous experience has been full stack development.

    Most of my work can only be started once a back end developer has done their part. There is only one back end developer who just so happens to be one of the co-founders of the company. Because he can’t exclusively dedicate his time to back-end work due to his other roles with the company, I am left sitting at my desk writing to you guys trying to figure out what to do with all this free time I suddenly have. I’d like to stay busy and not just look busy.

    I’d appreciate any advice to help get me busy again!

  2. Hey Dave and Jamison, love the show. Quit my job twice since I started listening so I’m a super fan.

    Long story short, I think I’m bored with coding(?). I just see everything as moving JSON around. Putting it in databases or putting it in queues or on a screen. I’ve done mobile, I’ve done backend, I’ve done front end, and it all just starts to look the same after a while. As an industry I feel we’ve solved the hard problems and now its degraded to this.

    What do I do next? Do I find a software product where the JSON moving around excites me (for example, a social good or cutting edge product)

    Do I look at something very different like embedded dev or games dev? (No JSON there!)

    Or do I look to tech leadership or people leadership? These options appeal but I’m just five years into my career and 26 years old and of course no one takes me seriously, naturally.

    However, I have been very deliberate and been very intense about my career, but now I’m feeling a bit done with coding. Team velocity problems interest me more than JSON APIs. People interests me more than code.

    I’d love to hear any of your thoughts on this!
    Thanks :D
    Keep up the great work.

Oct 28 2019

30mins

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Episode 58: Dropping Out and Interview Prep (Rerun)

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Dave and Jamison were out this week, so we have a re-run of a DEEP CUT for you.

This originally aired as episode 18. We answer these two questions:

  1. I have a part-time job as a developer while I’m still in school. Should I drop out and just work full time?
  2. How do I prepare for a job interview?

May 02 2017

41mins

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Episode 187: Interview insanity and making up for lost time

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hello there!

    To say things pretty directly, I hate the recruiting process in software engineering, especially coding tests on whiteboard during interviews. It makes me very nervous and I already missed a job opportunity because I could not handle my stress correctly. Plus I think that the problems asked in those interviews are irrelevant to the day-to-day job, which means that I need to study again sorting algorithms and tree balancing every time I want a new job.
    How do you deal with those interviews? Do you do heavy preparation? Do you think that the interview process is stupid too? Should the permanent access to StackOverflow be stated as an elementary dev’s right :D ?

    Thank you very much, keep on the excellent job :)

  2. I’m in my mid 30s and have been coding for about 20 years, I have a non-technical bachelor’s degree and have had a fairly varied career. I did freelance web development work throughout college, and then after college had a couple of different jobs as the sole in-house web developer for two different small media companies. After that I spent some time running my own web dev/design business with some partners, freelanced some more, and then finally decided to get on the career track about 4 years ago. At that point, I ended up taking a remote developer job at a small company of about 8 people with no real hierarchy or management structure and worked there for 3 years.

    About 6 months ago, I moved on from there to what now feels like my first “real” job at a tech focused company (still remote), and while I’m happy with the work and compensation, I’m realizing that I’m at the bottom of the software developer hierarchy and there are many people above me who are a fair bit younger and, I assume, less experienced than I am. I don’t mind being subordinate to younger devs, but I do feel like my career is a good 5 or 10 years behind where it should be because until now I haven’t worked in an environment where it has been possible to earn a senior, lead, or management title. I’ve been coding for a long time and am very interested in moving up the ladder, leading a team and working more at the product level. Do you have any advice for how I can accomplish this quickly and make up for lost time - especially considering I’ve only been here for 6 months?

Dec 09 2019

38mins

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Episode 186: First job negotiation and am I a senior engineer?

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hi!
    I am 29 years old and a couple of years ago I decided to turn my career around by going from teaching history to frontend development.
    After 2 years of education I am now doing my first internship in small but established company. I have the feeling I will soon be offered a full-time position.

    How can I ask for the best job offer (salary-wise) accordingly to my age but few experiences? I don’t want to be perceived as ungrateful, nor be exploited and get underpaid.

  2. How do you know that you are a senior engineer? Not just the title you are given, but when do you really feel like one? Some people relate this to experience, but you can be coding or doing crappy stuff for 10 years so for me this is not the answer.

Dec 02 2019

33mins

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Episode 185: Fragile coworkers and soft demotion

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hello! I am the only principal architect in my department. In addition to technical and delivery obligations, I am also responsible for mentoring of engineers. Recently, I reviewed some
    very lackluster customer facing presentation materials drafted by a junior engineer (for which I provided templates and talking points) and informed them this would need to be worked again from scratch. I received verbal confirmation that the effort was indeed lacking, and that they would take a different approach. Imagine my surprise when I was pulled into an HR meeting by my manager, telling me a formal complaint was filed for my being ‘belligerent’. Also mentioned to me was that this engineer would be leaving the company because they couldn’t possibly continue to work with me. Now might be a good time to mention we are a completely remote team and this is the first negative feedback this engineer received from me (due to having only been on the team for 2 weeks at that time). This individual has moved into a different group which I work with often, but now I’m concerned about having someone on the team who cannot handle direct (but professional) criticism. How do I handle this professional relationship going forward? P.S. this engineer is nearly 40 and we are consultants in 100% customer facing roles.

  2. Hi Soft Skills Advisors, I think I may have been ““soft demoted”” at the start-up I work at. I used to be part of the senior management of the company as the most senior technical member of the staff. However, due to a series of unfortunate mistakes on my part (both technical and managerial), I seem to be no longer trusted or included in any discussions or decisions. I feel like I’m demoted from my position in everything but official title. And yet, everyone in the senior management reassures me that they still very much value all my contributions.

    Is it time to take the time-honored soft skills advice and “quit my job”, or am I just being unnecessarily emotional and paranoid here and it will just take some time to rebuild trust?

    (I’m paid a good salary and still have my stock options, etc.)

Nov 25 2019

32mins

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Episode 184: Indispensable and IT cold war

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these 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.

Nov 18 2019

33mins

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Episode 183: Terrible boss code and peer-to-peer mentorship

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I work in a small team under 10 people on a new project that should be shipping soon. I have a manager who is leading this project, and I’m the most senior developer on the team.

    My manager tries to help with the project by writing code, but does it rather poorly. When he wants to implement new functionality, he creates a new branch and brews his code in this branch for 2-3 months, constantly complaining how hard it is to write code in our codebase. After he is done, the resulting code is unreadable, unmaintainable and untestable. He doesn’t write unit tests himself (which is weird, considering he was working as a QA before for several years) and usually breaks good portion of already written ones. I always have to go to his branch and refactor his code so it’s at least testable, fix broken unit tests and write new ones for his functionality.
    He always makes it look like our codebase is hard to work with, though the rest of the team doesn’t have this problem.

    How should I deal with this situation?

    I tried speaking to him directly, but he is pretty stubborn and thinks that he is doing everything perfectly.

    I can’t talk to his manager, since we have a pretty flat company and his manager is the CEO who I don’t have a direct access to.

  2. I work in a digital agency as part of team of 5 front end developers with varying levels of experience. We don’t have a senior / lead / director, it’s pretty flat. I have been told by management that we need to work on peer to peer mentor-ship because each of us have been guilty at some point of spinning our wheels on some problem when we should have reached out. The problem is we all work on different projects, there’s never 2 ““fed””s building the same site, and each site kind of feels like it’s own unique bowl of spaghetti.

    If you have any pointers about breaking out our code bubbles that would be amazing! Love the show, I hadn’t given non technical skills much thought but you’ve opened my brain! Thank you!

Nov 11 2019

30mins

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Episode 182: Lunch and switching to product management

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. My team often goes out to lunch; I almost always bring a lunch from home. They invite me to come with them, but it feels weird, since I won’t be purchasing a meal from the restaurant. Should I swallow (pun intended) my pride and go with them anyway, or decline their offer? I would bring lunch less frequently, but it’s difficult to predict what days they are going out together.

  2. I’ve been a software engineer for 7 years and it recently occurred to me that product management would be an interesting and fulfilling field that I’d like to give a shot. Is this something I should discuss with my engineering manager or director, or other product managers at my company?

    While I think it’s possible these people might be able to help me, my anxious mind can think of many ways that advertising I want help transitioning out of my current role could go badly. I also happen to be fully remote, so I don’t have many opportunities to bring these things up in more casual settings. I doubt I’d be able to get hired as a PM at another company without prior experience, so getting help from co-workers or management at my current company seems pretty important. Do either of you know anyone who’s made this jump? Any tips on getting help without pushing too hard or creating problems for myself?

Nov 04 2019

29mins

Play

Episode 181: Blocked by back-end and tired of coding

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I recently took a job at a start-up as the only front-end developer. The distinction of front-end and back-end is new to me as all of my previous experience has been full stack development.

    Most of my work can only be started once a back end developer has done their part. There is only one back end developer who just so happens to be one of the co-founders of the company. Because he can’t exclusively dedicate his time to back-end work due to his other roles with the company, I am left sitting at my desk writing to you guys trying to figure out what to do with all this free time I suddenly have. I’d like to stay busy and not just look busy.

    I’d appreciate any advice to help get me busy again!

  2. Hey Dave and Jamison, love the show. Quit my job twice since I started listening so I’m a super fan.

    Long story short, I think I’m bored with coding(?). I just see everything as moving JSON around. Putting it in databases or putting it in queues or on a screen. I’ve done mobile, I’ve done backend, I’ve done front end, and it all just starts to look the same after a while. As an industry I feel we’ve solved the hard problems and now its degraded to this.

    What do I do next? Do I find a software product where the JSON moving around excites me (for example, a social good or cutting edge product)

    Do I look at something very different like embedded dev or games dev? (No JSON there!)

    Or do I look to tech leadership or people leadership? These options appeal but I’m just five years into my career and 26 years old and of course no one takes me seriously, naturally.

    However, I have been very deliberate and been very intense about my career, but now I’m feeling a bit done with coding. Team velocity problems interest me more than JSON APIs. People interests me more than code.

    I’d love to hear any of your thoughts on this!
    Thanks :D
    Keep up the great work.

Oct 28 2019

30mins

Play

Episode 180: Inspiring attention to detail and moving

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. How do I inspire attention to detail in my co-workers?

    I’ve been frustrated with another developer on my team who pays a lot less attention to detail and it results in many bugs that I end up fixing, and sloppy commit history which makes debugging issues more difficult. I received a suggestion from a mentor to reframe my thinking from: I failed to enforce good practices, to, I failed to inspire good practices.

    Having approached the zen master, I’m hopeful for your additional advice / humour, what are some actions that I can take to help me on this path of inspiring vs enforcing?

  2. I am planning to move to a new city for my significant other to get another job, and will likely need to leave my current job to do so. Should I tell my manager up front when we start looking for new jobs or wait until we are actually moving?

Oct 21 2019

29mins

Play

Episode 179: Pushing preemptive promotion and de-motivated by promotion

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hello! I love listening to your show. I often relisten to old episodes. I’m a Front End Developer at an IT consulting company. I will be reaching my 1 year anniversary at the company in March (it’s September right now). How do I talk to my manager about a promotion? I would like to become a Sr front end Developer. I have never had to have this conversation because I have always changed jobs before reaching 1 year with the company. I need help on how to start the conversation. Thank you!

  2. A member of my team asked for a promotion; we discussed and it was decided that if we worked on a set of core skills we could push for the promotion in a few months time. Since this conversion they have lacked motivation and productivity has dropped. What should I do now?

Oct 14 2019

28mins

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Episode 178: Procrastinating colleague and working remotely for an on-site company

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. One of my co-workers never does their job in time and always postpones things. We are both leaders in the company. Especially when we depend on each other, it becomes really difficult.

    I tried many things like taking over their tasks, reminding them (in person, in Slack), escalating to their manager etc. None of these worked.

    As a different strategy, I organized a workshop with leaders to brainstorm how to collaborate and work together. That was really positive. We talked about each other’s responsibilities. This person was active in the workshop. Contributed and also agreed on many things. I felt really positive after this. :)

    But then shortly after, I ended up with frustration again. Nothing actually changed. Agreeing is easy but taking actions is not.

    Please give me recommendations other than quitting my job or waiting this person to quit. 😅

  2. I work remotely for an on-site company. How do you manage that relationship?

Oct 07 2019

21mins

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Episode 177: Work life vertigo and work life interviews

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I started working at a big fintech company doing cutting edge work. I was given a ton of responsibility (owned a major component, built it from scratch, manage external relationships with vendors, had a team of 3 engineers, filed a few patents). I was extremely successful at this role but I was working 60 hours a week. Even though I was successful, I felt like I didn’t have good work life balance.

    I left and joined a well established tech company with 600 engineers. I’ve been here almost 1 year now and looking back I’ve only worked on menial feature work and software maintenance. Now I work 30 hours a week and have great work life balance. I feel like I gave up a great opportunity with my old role. How do I make the most of this role? How should I tell my manager I’m not happy? should I just look for a new job?

  2. How and when do you ask about or gauge work life balance in a job interview?
    I recently got to round 4 of an interview and a developer told me that a person wouldn’t do well at this company unless you put in a lot more than 8 hours per day and the CEO rewarded those who stay late at night. This indicated a bad work life balance to me so I didn’t proceed any further.

    Does it look bad to bluntly ask an interviewer “what’s the work life balance like” or ask about this in round 1? Do you think I am lazy?

Sep 30 2019

24mins

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Episode 176: Afraid to disappoint and tech co-founder advice

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I am a junior developer with a low salary but I’m happy with my job.

    Recently, a personal/family problem occurred I needed more money to pay for it. I am three months away from my EOC (end of contract).

    I’ve found a job referral from my dear friend with higher salary and more benefits and I’m planning to apply. But after told my manager about my plans on leaving they told me they wanted to assign me to a top priority project they thought I could handle. I am so worried to disappoint them.

    They’re offering a raise but it’s not close to the other job. I’m afraid to ask for more because I don’t feel confident with my skills and I believe other people deserving it more. What are your thoughts?

  2. Hi guys, I am starting up a company in a few weeks together with a friend of mine. I’ll be the only developer in our new firm (for now!), while he’s got the domain knowledge. I’m not so worried about getting the tech stuff up and running. I get no constraints when it comes to the tech stack I choose, which is fantastic!

    What worries me is how to get into this brand new domain as quickly as possible, so I am able to deliver some value (MVP). Do you have any tips for how to go about this? I know I am not going to be an expert in the field, so at some point I just have to accept that and start coding. Anyways, I’ll learn more on the way..

    Thanks for a great show btw,
    Regards from Runar in Norway

Sep 23 2019

24mins

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Episode 175: Famous devs at conferences and becoming obsolete

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hi Dave and Jamison, thanks for the awesome show.

    How should I conduct myself at software conferences when my dev community heroes are in the midst?

    I recently attended a conference where one of my developer heroes was in attendance and I was really looking forward to meeting them. I couldn’t muster up the courage to introduce myself. What do you do in these situations to break the ice and not come off as a creeper or a nuisance? It’s a weird feeling to hear someone’s voice on a podcast every week or read their blog posts and feel like you are best friends with them while knowing that the other person has no idea who you are. Am I overthinking this?

  2. Recent new listener here and I must say that I love the show and to keep up the good work. My question can possibly be answered with the standard soft skills answer BUT I have my reservations about quitting my job. I work at a consultancy doing work in a niche web development framework that interfaces with an old monolith ERP system that I’m just not excited by but I am very good at creating web applications in.

    I know eventually these skills will become obsolete, and I had a new job opportunity recently that I decided not to take. Am I being stupid?

    Should I stay in the niche and hope I can get a newer job in the future where they just accept I can learn new tools?

Sep 16 2019

27mins

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Episode 174: Bottleneck manager and how to tech lead

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. “I’m into my second job of leading a team of software engineers and want to level up my coaching skills. In my first role I accidentally fell into the deep end of management “fun” by taking on a team of 10 people. One of the big problems I faced was being the “go to” or “sign off” person for a lot of different things, and I perpetuated this problem by showering people with my incredible answers (based on my obviously incredible know-it-all-ness) and thus reinforcing my goto factor. I was aware of coaching as a concept then, but didn’t incorporate it into my leadership style, which I believe contributed to my eventual burn out in the role.

    Over the last year in my current team lead role I’ve been much more deliberate about various aspects of leadership, but my coaching prowess is still struggling. When I’m asked questions by my team, my default response is to jump to a specific answer based on my own opinion, and it’s only afterwards that I slap my forward and yell out “missed coaching opportunity!” (as people near me back away slowly with concerned looks on their faces).

    What are some effective techniques to try and build a habit of using coaching as a primary means to help my team work through problems?

  2. I just became a technical lead for a team at my company. I’ve never held a leadership role like this before. Do you have any advice for how to do a good job?

Sep 09 2019

33mins

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Episode 173: Newbie burden and getting a 25% raise

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hello! Love the show ❤️

    I’m 6 months into my career as a software engineer at a very large company.

    As a new engineer, I’m often lost and confused, especially since my team is working on a green field project. My mentor is very helpful and patient with me despite all of my questions. I’ve thanked him countless times and publicly called out his support at standup and in front of management basically everyday. But I still feel like this isn’t enough. He’d never say it, but I know I’m such a burden to him and slow down the team.

    Other than quitting my job to alleviate him from my near-constant “Please help” messages, how can I:

    1) show him how much his support has meant to me and get him the recognition he deserves

    2) stop being such a drain on his productivity/life

    Thank you!!

  2. I’m a Senior Software Engineer, and I played the salary game with a recently promoted Mid-Level engineer on my team, who, in a gross violation of the rules, not only volunteered his own salary, but one of another Mid-Level engineer. In retrospect he was a bad one to play the game with.

    Anyway, it turns out they’re both really close to me now, and are both making a good deal more than I was 5 years ago when I was promoted to Senior. This is mostly (maybe entirely) because I was a horrid negotiator when I first started at the company. It was my first ““real”” job, and it turns out I really lowballed the company during salary negotiations. I’m pretty ready to leave the company (for reasons both personal and professional), but I’ve submitted a talk proposal for an industry conference that takes place 6 months from now. In order to give the talk I’d need to still be employed by the company, so rather than ordering the Soft Skills Engineering Special and quitting my job, I’m going to give it a shot and ask for a 25% raise.

    My question is what advice do you have for this conversation? I’ve read all the usual ““state your value, don’t make it personal, etc”” stuff, but do you guys have anything else that’s been effective in your experience on either side of this?

Sep 02 2019

33mins

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Episode 172: Contracting and American email etiquette

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. I’m a Full Stack Developer. I feel undervalued at my current job and I am looking at other opportunities. Many recruiters approach me on LinkedIn with contract-to-hire positions. Usually this means the benefits are not as good as direct hire positions and that the company can just dispose of me when the contract is done (after 6 or 12 months, generally). Salaries seem to be higher when contracting, though.
    Have you ever worked as a contractor for a large company? Would you recommend it? How likely is it that companies use this type of employment as a way to temporarily hire somebody for a specific project and then get rid of them once it’s done? What signs should I look for to avoid such companies? Does contracting actually make a difference? I live in Oregon, where employment is at-will anyway, so I can get fired at any time without any warning.

  2. Hello, I’m a mechanical engineer from Brazil. I really love your podcast. As a mechanical engineer I don’t develop software but I believe the soft skills are important to everyone.
    I work in an American multinational company and I often talk or send e-mails to the engineers there. However, our culture is different so I don’t know how to behave or how straightforward, informal or political I must be. I’m always afraid of offending someone. What kind of things I never should say or do when dealing with Americans? We Brazilians become friendly and intimate very fast. Do you guys notice these kind of different behavior from different cultures?

Aug 26 2019

28mins

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Episode 171: Unwilling mentorship and tortoise vs hare DevOps

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hey guys, love the show. I’m starting to realize that our QA engineer lacks some skills required to do their job effectively. It’s now starting to affect my work and I can only see it getting worse. I’ve tried approaching them about their work and given them some pointers on how they can improve. I’ve done several pair programming sessions as well. They are a bit stubborn though and I don’t think they will change until things get a lot worse when they realize their mistakes first hand. We are a small team and I’m the only other member of the team with automated testing experience.

    Should I be having a discussion with my manager about this? The company is pushing for more automated testing and if the problems are addressed now it would be easier going forward. I’m hesitant to say anything in case I open up a can of hate worms though or get them fired as they are a nice person.

    P.S. I’ve only been here a couple of months so moving jobs won’t be an answer for me on this one ;D

  2. Greetings from Germany,

    I am coming from the Infrastructure side of things, and we are a team of engineers with 0-3 years of experience getting into DevOps (tm). Often we encounter new tech-stacks that involve a lot of concepts to learn (like AWS, Elastic, CI/CD, System Provisioning). The way we approach these topics leads to some conflicts. Most of my colleagues like to jump into the water and set up production systems based on a mix of trial & error and copy pasting examples form StackOverflow. I on the other hand try to do things a bit slower by learning the basic concepts and applying them together with examples to get a deeper understanding of the system.

    My approach is slower but often leads to more robust and thought out systems. However it leads to my boss and my colleagues often eyerolling me for seemingly “overthinking” it. But I also see the appeal of the other approach, since it allows for fast results and pleases the stakeholders. But I see a lot of issues and often time consuming restructuring projects coming from that.

    Should I just give in and swim with the stream while i suppress my inner nerd cracking down on things?

    Loving your Podcast btw and recommend it to all my fellow tech nerds. :)

Aug 19 2019

31mins

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Episode 170: Code rage and code review etiquette

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Vote for Soft Skills Engineering on the Hackernoon Noonies awards for best Dev Podcast!

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. How do I stop getting angry at other peoples’ code?

    Often when solving a complicated problem or implementing a feature, I have to modify or at least use systems designed by someone else. Often I find myself thinking ““Why did they do it like this??? This is so dumb!”” and literally getting mad in my chair. This happens no matter who wrote the code, and occasionally I discover that the author of the code was in fact Past Me.

    I know logically that everyone codes the best way they know at the time. So how do I avoid such a visceral reaction? Is this a common problem? Is this why many programmers seem to be Grumpy? My frustration often derails my focus and makes problems take longer to solve than they need to.

  2. What is the right etiquette for a code review for a pull request?
    I recently had an amazing code review. The reviewer pulled my branch, make a branch for changes he suggested and those changes all led to better and cleaner code. I felt the reviewer really tried to understand my design and test every suggestion before he wrote it. I felt that my code really got respect from the reviewer.
    However, a lot of my code reviews are just passive aggressive nitpicking like the comment formats are not right, the variable names aren’t clear enough. The worst was when I got a comment saying “this is already implemented” which after hours of figuring out what it meant was a different thing that would not work in my case.
    It seems like people have different ideas of what code reviews are and the etiquette and the expectations for it. As a reviewer and a reviewee, what should ideally happen in a code review process? Right now most code reviews are exhausting and infuriating experiences.

Aug 12 2019

36mins

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Episode 169: Conspiracy theories and flexible schedules

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Vote for Soft Skills Engineering on the Hackernoon Noonies awards for best Dev Podcast!

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. One of my co-workers at the software company I currently work on has an ‘uncommon’ set of beliefs that include, among many other things, a strong mistrust of mainstream science. He is currently very concerned about the effect that Wi-Fi signals have on our health and wants the company to make some changes to our Wi-Fi hubs and our devices’ wireless connection usage. I’ve found in the past that it’s not easy to have a conversation with him about this type of topic. How can I be respectful to him and not undermine our work relationship while not giving in to connectivity inconvenience based on fringe-science beliefs?

  2. Hello! I love the show! The humor interjected into real advice (or real advice injected into humor?) makes thinking of boring and scary things like coworker relations or quitting your job sound fun! Everyone should resolve conflict and/or quit!

    I just started a new gig and I’m running into a situation I haven’t before. We have flexible work hours, but, unlike at previous jobs, people actually use them! I am meant to be pairing with another dev who is working quite different hours than me. I have a couple questions.

    1) How do we communicate about this clearly? I tried to set expectations at the onset, but it seems we missed the boat. I asked when he works, told him when I work, and it didn’t seem this far off. But on a day we’re supposed to pair, he’s here an hour and a half after me, which means I’ll leave an hour and a half before him.

    2) How do we make the time together the most effective? How can we turn about six hours of work into something meaningful, given normal distractions of meetings, bathroom breaks, etc?

Aug 05 2019

31mins

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Episode 168: Self-snooping and work from home jeopardy

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hey there.

    I don’t program I administrate in IT but you’re my favorite podcast, awesome job, never stop.

    I ran into a crazy situation that is WAY above my soft skills ability to deal with so I am seeking wisdom.

    I was working with someone from HR on a OneNote syncing problem. I asked someone to log in and let me look at the notebook in question that was causing an issue. I saw what I needed and then randomly clicked on another notebook so the problem notebook wasn’t open as I was trying to fix it.

    Later I approached the HR person to show me how they do something in OneNote. They opened OneNote and the page that opened up was MY employee records! OneNote syncs which page was opened last, which means the page I randomly clicked on when they were logged in on my computer was my employee record, and they knew it!

    They confronted me about it (not making too huge a deal about it). I tried to explain how I just clicked randomly and I wasn’t snooping, but it felt like everything I said only dug me deeper.
    I’m having trouble staying in the same room with them because of the shame (entirely internal) and I’m worried if I ever need to look at their PC again they will want full visibility to make sure I’m not snooping (not ideal).
    I want to make this right, but all I can come up with is honor based suicide rituals. What do I do?

    Your faithful listener,

    Stefan

  2. I’m an engineer in a small start-up. I work half of each week remotely, half in-person, as do the other engys. One of the other engineers is exceptionally skilled and experienced, way more so than I, but they are not very communicative when working remotely. The leader (understandably) becomes quite nervous as a result, especially since minor health issues have kept this engineer from working full throttle for a couple of weeks.

    What, if anything, can I do to help the leader trust this engy who doesn’t like to chatter on slack? I think they whole-heartedly deserve trust, and their work is already the backbone of this product.

    Part of the reason this matters to me is that the leader has expressed wanting to reduce work from home days to alleviate this issue. I love my wfh days, and I have been told that I communicate plenty well when working remote.

    How can I help alleviate the leader’s fears to protect another engineer’s independence and protect my precious precious remote time?

Jul 29 2019

31mins

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