I am interested in a Testing Career – can you help me learn more about the field?

career development

Software Testing is one of the least known professions in the tech field. Most likely you have come across people who have performed a “checking” exercise and they equate it with “testing”. That really does dilute our value and it is important to take those teaching moments to let them know they performed a “checking” exercise to make sure that basic functionality did not break; however testing is much more complicated. This might lead to the question of:

  • Do you think I can be a Tester?
  • What does a Tester do?
  • Do you have a job opening in your Testing department?

These are great opportunities to educate people regardless if they become a Tester. We all need to come up with our elevator pitch when asked about the testing field. An elevator pitch is basically a short summary that can be provided in about 30-seconds.

In October and November 2012, I wrote a series for Testing Circus called: Do You Think I Could Be a Tester? Click here for October and here for November.

Here are a few ideas to get started and the above articles provide more details.

  1. What is his experience with Testers and what is his observation on their role? This can be helpful in correcting any misunderstandings as many people think Testers are the “Quality Police”. Another situation is the type of testing he witnessed at another company – for example that company may use test cases whereas another company is using session-based testing. Best to clarify any differences upfront.
  2. What does he enjoy doing? What are his career aspirations? If his goal is to implement company-wide solutions then a testing career might not be for him. But be careful about discouraging someone because a testing career could help him for other opportunities or he might find he really loves the field. A Tester’s skills crosses so many areas such as problem solving, critical thinking, risk analysis and mitigation, report writing, troubleshooting among many others.
  3. Take a personal approach to the conversation. Spend some time discussing why you became a Tester; why you enjoy the field; what do you find challenging about testing; what advice you would give a new Tester. Set a bit of background about the field before discussing how to perform testing. Have a few of the Testers share the same information. Perhaps have a small gathering of Testers meet with him to have this conversation. Make it informal so it does not feel forced and be sure to give the person opportunities to ask questions.
  4. Is he an employee of your company? Perhaps he can spend some time in the Testing department. Just be careful because if he does not understand testing then he might be overwhelmed with both what is testing and the product under test. There is a risk that this could discourage him from a career he might enjoy since he will not be going through the typical training program.
  5. Identify a tool or application he uses to demonstrate how to test a piece of functionality. Such as FaceBook, Twitter or anything that he is familiar with so his focus is on learning the testing piece.  In the November article are a couple of mind maps on bridging the training.

None of these suggestions are fool-proofed and it is important to tailor the approach to the person. Hopefully this will provide a few ideas  to prepare for these conversations. Plus be sure to come up with a Testing elevator pitch to be ready at any time to discuss “what is Testing”.


What is your Testing Elevator Pitch?

How do you explain a Tester’s responsibilities to someone who has no idea?

5 responses

  1. Nice synopsis but maybe you can address testers who are not employees of a company but also contractors, consultants and freelancers as well.

    How about suggesting people try Weekend Testers? There are several groups around the world to cater to more favorable time zones rather than only one session a month. Check out the website for the announcements or better yet, sign up for the email announcements. This is all free, a chance to try new things for a couple of hours and work with attendees all over the world, of various levels of skill. http://weekendtesting.com/

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my posting and to add valuable suggestions. I love the idea of Weekend Testing – I typically recommend it as part of a training program. But your thought of suggesting it for someone to gain more knowledge about the field is a great idea!! It is wonderful how Weekend Testing has many chapters and timeframes. I too love the social aspect where you can “meet” up with people around the world.

  2. Thanks Bernice for the post and links,
    I think what we lack is a presentation of “What testing is” –
    for instance if we could make a short video/s of “A Day in a Tester’s life”,
    We would be able to 1st explain our occupation to the general public and mainly to people who consider to join this occupation.
    As many latest discussions indicated – most testers still arrive to this occupation buy accident – we need to enhance public knowledge regarding the advantage of this profession – so that people will select it as their aim even before going to the university.

    1. I really love that idea. We often talk about the “Life of a bug” “Life of a Release”. But “A Day in a Tester’s Life” would be a good series. Maybe I will contact Tea-Time to see if they would be interested is partnering with a group of Testers on this initiative. I will let you know.

  3. […] you completely lose them. Some of these challenges are discussed in a prior posting that you can find here. If you are hosting a shadowing day or any similar opportunity, below are a few ideas to get you […]

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