In this podcast I discuss How to get a job in testing. But… When we discuss how to get a job in testing. The answer is that we don’t know. No-one actually knows. Because getting a job is completely and utterly dependent on the employer. But there are things we can do to improve our chances….
NOTE: this is not a transcript, there is additional information in the audio and video.
This was released early to Patreon supporters, with a full transcript. on Monday June 22nd 2020
- I have seen people with no experience and no knowledge hired for roles.
- I have seen experienced people, who could do the role in their sleep, passed over for roles.
So all I can really tell you is what I look for, when I’m involved in recruiting testers.
I wrote a linkedin post on “Should testers learn to code?”
The basic summary of the post:
- learning to code is a choice
- coding has helped me
- I don’t think people should be forced into learning to code.
- automating and testing are different skills
It is possible to test things without being able to code. Testing as a general activity does not require learning to code. If you don’t know how to code then are limits to what you can use as inputs to your testing, and you probably won’t automate with code. There are things you can’t do.
I don’t really do Accessibility Testing because that requires specialist knowledge that I haven’t picked up. I use tools to help me.
Testing does not require the ability to understand Accessibility. Accessibilty Testing requires the ability to understand Accessibility.
Testing does not require the ability to code. But if I want to automate in code then I need to be able to code.
But like accessibility testing, there are tools I can use to automate, even if I don’t know how to code.
Testing and Coding are separate knowledge bases. They have overlap.
Many of the comments on linkedin were ‘Testers must be able to code’. Some people might have meant that you can’t Test without being able to code. But I think most people were saying that if you want to get a job in Testing, then you need to be able to code.
So they are commenting on their work experience. And they are saying that they don’t recruit people who don’t know how to code.
Difference between Testing, and getting a job in testing
There is a difference between “Testing” and “Getting a job in testing”.
Getting a job, in some environments, requires more skills and experience than what we would consider as pure testing skills.
If we choose not to learn to code then there are paths our career can take.
- Accessibility Testing
There are security testers, who don’t know how to code, they may eventually learn because it is helpful, but they may not start knowing how to do that. Certainly all the security defects I have raised, and I’ve raised plenty, and even been paid bug bounties. I didn’t need to code to find.
When I started performance testing, I used tools that didn’t need any coding, and we had people on the team who could not code, that were doing performance testing.
We don’t need to code, to be able to test.
if we need to automate then we can:
- work with programmers to automate
- automate using tools rather than code
We don’t need to code, to be able to test.
But Getting a Job in Testing, is different from “Testing”
To get a job
To get a job you have to:
- apply for the job
- at the right place
- at the right time
- with the right CV
Getting a job depends on:
- the agent recruiting for the job
- the hiring manager
- the filters they have put in place to reduce the number of CVs they have to read
- the interview process
A whole bunch of things, mostly unrelated to “Testing”
You might hear people say that you have to learn to code to get a job in testing, but that isn’t necessarily true.
There are absolutely companies out there that:
- will only hire people who know how to code, to do testing.
- demand coding skills from testers, but then the testers never use those coding skills because they are too busy testing.
- put ‘mandatory’ skills on the job spec, but think of them as optional, because they are trying to filter the pool of CVs.
Hiring is fundamentally broken for a whole bunch of reasons.
How to increase your chances of getting a job
I’ll tell you what I look for, and why I look for these things.
Test Things and Be Interested in Testing
I look for people with experience of having tested things, and who are intereted in testing.
Even if I was looking for someone junior, that I was going to train from scratch. I would want them to have experience of testing things.
So to increase your chances of getting a job
- test things
- be able to say what you tested and why
- be able to say how you tested and what you found
- be able to say what you learned when you tested
- be able to say how you would test differently the next time
And because we can’t fit all of that on a CV, I tend to be biased towards recruiting people who have that written up somewhere:
- on a blog
- as linkedin posts
- as linkedin articles
I can teach people to test, but I can’t necessarily teach people to be interested in testing, or who are actively trying to improve themselves as testers.
I look for people who are interested in testing. Not people who want to use testing as a stepping stone to get into development or project management or IT or anyone that thinks testing is the easy way in.
I look for people that are interested in testing.
Often we can’t reveal publicly the work we do for companies. So that means you’ll either:
- write in generic terms,
- or you point out bugs you find in the real world and how you would have tested them,
- or you test open source software or practice software.
- Take part in crowd source testing programmes.
There are plenty of ways of communicating your testing experience.
I’m biased towards recruiting people who test, communicate how they test, and are learning about testing.
You have to be in the right place at the right time.
- I might be hiring for two people.
- The team they are going into wants to do more automating.
- They also need great communication and great exploratory testing.
- And they need the ability to communicate to users
- and a bunch of other stuff
So I’ll put together a job spec, and put all of that in. But I know hiring that person will be hard.
And I might find someone that is a pretty good match, but not completely, but if they could work with someone else, then we would have the skill set required.
So the second person I hire may not need to be able to automate, because they can now work with someone who does. But it is based off the same role and same job spec.
Luck is a factor in all of this, at the right time.
But some roles I won’t compromise. I know what the team needs. There is only one position available. We don’t have time to train them. And that might mean that I would only recruit someone who can test and automate. But also be aware, that I wouldn’t be recuriting someone with only coding skills, and I wouldn’t be recruiting someone with weak coding skills.
There is no magic set of skills and experience that guarantees you will get a job. And there is no guarantee that if you develop lots of skills you will get a job, because you might not be experienced in any one of them.
If you are interested in coding then you might even find it is easier to get a job as a programmer than a tester, because there is usually a narrower set of mandatory skills required, and you can more easily demonstrate your capabilities on Github.
And that’s what makes this hard.
You get hired, when you have the skills that the employer needs. And you are able to sell those skills to the employer.
So the only universal thing we can say about getting a job is:
- keep developing your skills
- develop the skills based on your interests, and based on the type of job specs that you want to do
- communicate those skills on your CV
- write a good linkedin profile which communicates those skills
- add posts and articles on linkedin
- add commentary on a blog
But luck and persistence is also involved.
- apply to jobs which you are a good match for
- if you CV doesn’t match the spec then amend it so it does
- apply to jobs which you are a close match for, or believe you can do
- amend your cover letter to bridge the gap
- keep applying for jobs because you have to apply at the right time
- keep applying for jobs at the same company, if you want to work with them, even if you get knocked back, because a lot of companies are so big you’re going through a different hiring manager
The way to get a job in testing, is to build your skills, develop the experience, demonstrate your experience, and keep applying for jobs.