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How to get your dream job in test

Written by Erin Donnelly
10/10/19 - 10:27

A couple of weeks ago I reached out to some Test Managers to ask them some questions about the testing market in general, and where candidates could improve in the job application process.

It’s the questions you’ve always wanted to ask, and the feedback you never got.

So, without further ado, here are some of the key points that everyone I spoke to mentioned:

Stop. Including. Every. Single. Tool. And. Tech. You. Have. Ever. Even. Heard. Of.

As you can tell by the full stops after every single word, I really feel passionately about this.

You know when you write on your CV that you have experience with C#, but actually someone once in a job you were in used it and you watched them those two times? It doesn’t count as being able to use C#, and being knowledgeable about it.

It’s one of the top turnoffs that Hiring Managers come across, as they can’t work out what you are actually skilled in, and if you are relevant to the role. Not only that, it means they don’t trust you, which means you probably aren’t going to get the job.

Include a short sentence on your CV about the project you are working on

Again, instead of just listing tools and tech with no context, write a bit about the project.

Choose a few things to concentrate on, because listing things isn’t bad, but it’s also not super useful. Pick the main things – the core language, the main automated tools etc. and write a sentence about how you used them.

It doesn’t need to be War and Peace, and believe me, no-one has time for a six page CV in size eight font.

Use “I” rather than “we”

This is true across life, not just CVs and interviews.

It reduces the impact of your work – take credit for what you’ve done!

Understand more than just testing

The best Testers aren’t just concerned with the testing, but are well-rounded technical individual.

You need to understand what you are testing and how its running. Can you create and understand the test environment? Do you understand virtualisation technologies? (I don’t – but you might, and should).

If you only really have web-focused experience, look into desktop and server applications testing.

Automation

Sometimes it’s just a buzzword but sometimes it’s not, and it’s unavoidable that automation testing is something that is quickly becoming a criteria in most roles.

Gaining knowledge, and developing skills can be hard if a prospective company already needs the skills, and your current company doesn’t have the opportunity. You can try to persuade them – using open source tools means there’s no cost, and you can argue it could create more efficiency in the testing process, as long as it doesn’t take away from your current work.

But if that’s not an option, make the opportunity. There are so many free resources, and people willing to pass on their knowledge.

More importantly, showcase your skills – as some companies (understandably) need to see this somewhere if you don’t have commercial experience. Sites like Github are great – and you can see your participation and contribution. Answer questions, post things, become a part of the community.

Be Passionate

At the end of the day, you might be the best technical person around for miles, but you need to fit in with the team.

One thing that Hiring Managers look favourably on is passion – so think about ways you can display that. Think about why you became a Tester, what tools you are passionate about, if you contribute to the activity, stayed after hours to learn, searched out a mentor.

These are the things that set you apart from the crowd.

These are just some of the points that came up, but what other things have I missed? Do I need to create a follow-up post?

Shout out to Colin Turner, Richard Paterson, Gary Fairlie and Graham White for chatting to me about their views as Test Managers.

As usual – if you are looking for a testing new role, or looking for a great candidate to join your team, give me a call on 0131 510 1500, or erin.donnelly@cathcartassociates.com