Since I moved to Australia few months ago, I keep on getting requests from fellow testers from either within Australia or from other countries to assist them find a job.
These days I receive 5 to 10 emails on average every week for connecting over LinkedIn and asking me if I had any suitable job/s available for the requester. I almost always respond. If there is something to offer, I do; or if I know someone who can help, I direct people in that direction. If there is nothing I can help with, I offer my advice. I look at people’s profiles and try helping them out. If they are not ready, I say it!
There is nothing wrong in asking for help or connecting with others. In my opinion, it is indeed good to connect with potential employers and/or people in one’s industry if one is either considering a job change or wants to expand one’s network. However, what is not OK is to not prepare yourself for that interaction. If you have not done your homework and if you are not lucky enough, your chances of losing that opportunity are very high.
See, the first impression is not entirely the last impression, but if not managed well, it may potentially ruin your chances of getting any further traction or communication from the people you are seeking support. Do not send the request just because you can or just for the sake of it. Do not let the chances of getting a job diminish.
So, before you send that email or LinkedIn message, sit back, relax, take a deep breath and follow this advice:
1. Know your audience: Have a thorough look at the receiver’s profile. Try to find what they are looking for, what their interests are, who they follow, what kind of skill they possess or admire and who they have hired if you can find the job description. If they are on Twitter, look at their tweets and see what they are tweeting about. This will give you a fair idea about them. It is not too hard to find about people’s professional interests on LinkedIn.
2. Stand out: If your profile looks like a million others, you have very little chance to be noticed. Make sure your profile stands out from the crowd. It is not just employers; it is also recruiters who receive CVs with exactly the same skill set and experience. So, stop saying that you are ISTQB certified, know manual and automated testing, can write test plan and test strategy, can do functional, system, regression, integration, blah blah blah testing etc. No employer or recruiter will pay attention to this because you suddenly become part of the crowd.
3. Certification show off: If you are relying on your ISTQB certification and automation certification, good luck to you. Everyone seems to have those these days. You are not special. If you do not have a degree, that is fine. I am more than happy to speak to you if you fulfill the skill criteria that I have mentioned below. If you do not have a testing certificate, that is more than fine. If you do have a testing certificate, beware, I am not a fan of testing certificates and you will have to prove what value you received from those.
Not having a degree is not a restriction. Self education has its own benefits. I would suggest you read James Bach’s “Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar: Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion”
If you are worried that not possessing ‘that’ testing certification will reduce your chances of being shortlisted, read this piece from Michael Bolton.
4. Why choose me: ‘You’ need to prove why you are the right candidate for ‘a’ role. Again, do not start saying what you say on your CV (look at point # 2). Help employers distinguish you from the entire crowd.
5. Make it visible: I mentioned this in few of my recent emails to people, “It helps if you have evidence of your contribution to the testing community. So in case you have attended or spoken at conferences, written articles or blogs or follow blogs and forums, mention them in your profile. If you have not done so yet, maybe it is time to do so.”
6. Do it if you really mean it: Send the request if you really mean it and if you are ready to prove that you are the person employers must be looking for or the one who can add tremendous value. This also means that you have done the homework and have good preparation for this interaction.
Search the internet for behavioural interviews if you are not aware of what they are. If you know about those, prepare more.
I have been hiring recently. If you would like to be considered for any upcoming roles, I have listed the basic requirements for testing roles (tester, lead, manager,..) below:
1. Critical, lateral and analytical thinking ability
2. Strong deductive reasoning, attention to detail, persistence, patience and creativity
3. Passion for testing and problem solving
4. Curiosity and questioning skills
What increases your chances to get better attention of your profile:
1. Understanding of Context-Driven testing and strong knowledge of Exploratory testing and reporting styles
2. Strong knowledge of building test ideas using mind maps or similar visualisation tools
3. Strong knowledge of bug investigation and reporting skills
You will do much better with us if you have the skills below:
1. Knowledge of Session Based Test Management
2. Knowledge of any coding or scripting languages
3. RST and/or BBST trainings
None of the above is mandatory. If you think you are a great tester, let’s talk!
For further assistance and advice about managing your job search, you may consider reading this book by Johanna Rothman.