How to lure people into testing profession?

Hi all,

I am Luka, a Software Tester from Zagreb, Croatia.

Software testing is pretty “new” profession in Croatia - IT universities are still not even mentioning Testing and most of the students have not idea that testing profession even exists, how to do it or anything about it.
This became a problem for us, since we (and many other Software developing companies) are struggling to find a new employees in this profession, to lure students in considering this as a profession as well or to make Senior Testers to change their current company since most of the companies offer similar things.

So wanted to ask you here and hope it will turn into discussion…
What have brought you into Testing profession?
How have you ended up working as Tester?
What do you like the most about this profession and what do you dislike about it?
What would some other company needed to offer you in order for you to change your job? (project types, bigger salary, better environment, more benefits…)

Am 24 years old myself and in testing business for a year so know these answers for myself, but will be holding a lecture on few Croatian universities to introduce Testing profession to a students so would like to hear opinions from others as well to be better prepared and to be able to present this wonderful profession to others as well.

Any additional feedback is very much appreciated!
Thank you very much in advance!

Best regards,
Luka

Hi Luka,

Your question is surprisingly difficult to answer, because here in the UK so many people in testing, whether they have five or twenty-five years’ experience, only got into testing by accident, or by doing other roles - sometimes not even related to IT! - before finding themselves in a testing role and enjoying it.

I think that one of the big attractions of testing is the testers’ community - Ministry of Testing, TestBash and various local meetups. It’s certainly been something that I’ve found has fired my enthusiasm, and I’ve only discovered the community in the past 15 months since I started in my present role - and I’ve been testing for more than twenty years!

Depending on how you decide to talk to students about it, that could be a problem for you, as I’m not aware of a big testers’ community in Croatia; or it could be an opportunity, as the community is quite internationally-minded. There are sizeable testers communities in Romania, Germany and Poland, as well as the UK. I think that the community is something that has the potential to act as a positive force for testers everywhere, not only in improving their skills as testers, but also in giving support in the workplace, networking and a better sense of international involvement. (You may think that last one is a bit rich coming from a Brit these days, but for some of us that is still an important consideration!)

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Yup, Croatia doesnt really have a testing community…
Once a month or so there is a “Testival” - a meetup for testers here in Zagreb and there are mostly 15-20 same people going on it ( all of the are experienced with their companies or working as freelancers or similar so they are not interested in changing job).

As I mentioned, there are few IT universities in Zagreb/Croatia and none of them are even mentioning that Testing profession exists even more so what it is, how to do it or similar…
Have talked to some fellow colleagues that are still studying and they said the most they told them about testing at university is very shortly and very little about Unit tests and that’s it…
When you look at Computer Engineering, you can choose weather you want to be a Programmer or “CISCO guy” and that’s all.

I have heard from many sides that they have entered Testing profession “accidentally” as you said, which is something I (and my company) try to fix it here in Croatia and we would like to introduce testing as profession to a students but not to present it in a way that “it is a easy way to enter Developing profession” because Testing is absolutely nothing like that.
I have studied for Programmer, worked as programmer for 2 years and then went to Testing field because I like it much better and it suits me much better since am very analytical person, very curious person and testing is much more dynamic for me that programming was…
So believe that software developing should be a entering point for a testers and not the other way round…

I hear what you are saying there about community should be international and not only country based, but kinda a problem is what Croatia is a small country, economically not the best standing so living standard in Croatia is lower than in Germany, Poland, UK or other countries. so traveling to other countries for conference or to be part of community is not always so simple here.

I really appreciate your answer and feedback @robertday!

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Hi Luka, I could bore you about how I came into testing but instead I think I’ll focus on where I could possibly help.

What I most like about testing is the opportunity to use both sides of my brain. There are many creative opportunities in the tests you create from James Bach’s ‘sneaker test’ where he (I think figuratively) left his shoe on the keyboard over lunch, to entering different strings, combinations, unicodes, emojis, SQL injections and so on into fields.

In planning, when you see your results or in writing up summaries or reports you need to be very analytical, structured, disiplined and organised.

I also think this is an under used selling point for the testing profession that could be highlighted more to encourage more people from all backgrounds to consider a test role.

Good luck with your lecture, I’d very much like to hear how you get on and maybe share the content/slide too?

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Perhaps 25% of British testers didn’t even start out as IT professionals - I didn’t! So perhaps that’s worth remembering, that you perhaps shouldn’t restrict yourself to talking only to IT students. Any discipline that encourages analytical thinking could be fertile ground to attract people into testing.

As for being able to access the testing community in other countries, I appreciate the financial issues; friends and colleagues in Slovenia and Romania remind me about this regularly. Perhaps I am overlooking this because of thinking about how to get from Zagreb to TestBash Munich (one train direct - no airport transfers!) but of course accommodation can eat up money very quickly, even if you could get some funding from companies. Perhaps looking for companies who will help fund going to conferences would be one of the things that might attract testers to change their job.

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@adrian.stokes I agree with you very much there!
There is so many different fields of testing and so many different approaches to testing some platform, it is amazing in my opinion!
My current thought is to use exactly that in my lecture to give others idea how testing is so much more than just “dumb clicking on App and looking it if everything is ok” which sadly and unfortunately is approach from many people…

Currently presentation is still in very early stage, a bit more than an idea my boss and I have since no one is applying for job interviews and most of the people that do apply go to interview told us that they have no idea what QA/Testing is and they hoped we will explain it to them on interview, which is kinda ridiculous to us…
Will definitely then share my presentation here as well once I finally make it.

@robertday this is exactly what me and one colleague (a team leader of one project I am working on) have been talking about!
So far we had been looking for a Computer Engineer for a Tester position just so we can speed up a learning process for them (since learning process also takes time while project developments does not hold and we are already very much short on people) and to be able to have that same person for writing automated tests, API tests and every other tests that need some sort of programming knowledge, but seems like we might have to drop “Computer Engineer” as mandatory for this job and we will see if we might have more luck.

My company did tell me that if I find something interesting (some course, conference or similar) that I would like to go on it is no problem for them to pay me a trip, so I think money is not always a problem…
Think (at least in my case) is more about how much time (and money) you spend on one trip on some Conference and how much you get in return…
I may be very much wrong here, since have never been on some international huge conference but only the ones in Croatia (and as a student I have been going on most of the IT Conferences since I had a lot more free time) where most of the lectures there were too specific for something and in many times didnt do me too much good…
There would be a few talks that were interesting and educational but every time I would doubt if it was worth it compared of how much time I have spend listening to all other talked that were not as good.
I know that many people here think the same about conferences and every times someone goes to one is mostly just for networking.
So the main reason why many people are saying it is too expensive (both in time and money) for us to go on some conference in other country, especially if it is not neighbour country, is because can become too much of an investment for not knowing how much would you really benefit from conferences based on conferences here.

Now I know this is a bit of a shameless plug but I created the Periodic Table of Testing just so I could have a view of the vastness of testing and related subjects. I’ve put the link to the latest version below and if you think it could be useful in anyway please feel free to share or use. I’m also very happy to take any feedback whether good or bad to help me keep improving it.

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This is actually great, I like it!
Brilliant way to display it and to show diversity of testing, great job!

I might use it on my presentation just so everyone can get a feel how wide of an area testing really is.
Thank you very much for sharing it!

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What have brought you into Testing profession?
I bring fresh ideas. I also like to share experiences and what I have learnt from them, I think it helps people to put things in perspective.

How have you ended up working as Tester?
I was actually offered an opportunity to work on some user acceptance testing when in my previous role and from this I didn’t really look back. This led me to my Test Analyst role and I will keep pushing until I get to a more Senior position.

What do you like the most about this profession and what do you dislike about it?
The fact that you can interact with a wide range of people and share ideas is probably my favourite part about testing.

I also love the questioning process a tester has:
What if we tried this?
What happens if you do that?
Where is this falling over?
Who knows about that?

The end of a project is great for me to, I like that satisfaction of meeting a deadline and getting a project up and running.

What I most dislike
There is a bit of a blame game sometimes in testing. The testers should have found that issue, the testers aren’t using the correct environment. We can mitigate this with a strong strategy and good testing documentation… but its still there, we still have those anti-testing gremlins :slight_smile:

What would some other company needed to offer you in order for you to change your job?
It would need to be the right place for me personally, opportunities of progression and the ability to coach and train others is my driving point. If I can learn new skills that’s also a big plus. Difficulty I always face with changing companies is making sure the grass is definitely greener.

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I agree this is brilliant, I will use it as a bit of a measure of testing experience.

I love anything acts as a visual aid, I absorb the information so much better!

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Thanks @jacqui22_1990, I hope you find it useful. I’ve used it both for guiding my learning journy’s and to help in scoping projects. it can be used to mesure your testing experiance but I wouldn’t want it using as a stick by managers! I’d appreciate any feedback you might have once you’ve used it for a bit, thanks.

I know what you mean, hopefully It won’t be or there will be a quite a few areas to cross off :slight_smile:

Definitely happy to feedback, looking to map out the areas that I feel I need to hone in on.

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Just my 2 cents with a point that nobody suggested… It is easier to start with an internship.
People will take a lot more “risks” with an internship than with a regular position. Because they know it is supposed to be short-term, and also because IT students can afford to go through this phase of exploring differents professions in the IT field, before picking one they really like. It is also a good way to advocate for testing and build relationships with universities. Once the internship is over, students go back to studying and tell their peers about our profession, what we do and so on. For me it all started with an internship - a few months did not feel like a big commitment so I decided to give a chance to testing. After a few weeks I was definitely hooked and decided to make a carreer out of it. If it was not for the internship opportunity, I might never have looked into QA as a profession.

Labelling is also very important. Technically inclined people might overlook offers as “test analyst” or “tester” because these positions do not seem technical to them. But testing is a lot more that clicking on all the buttons! If you label positions as QA engineer or Software Development Engineer in Test, you will have a lot more applicants.

Did you try to contact universities and offer to make a presentation to students about testing as a profession, and the types of carreers that one can build in that field? Most universities are concerned about what their students will become after graduation. They will welcome a 2 hour Q&A about testing if you do it without actually asking for money. It would be a good opportunity to build a relationship with local universities, and attract young talent fresh out of school.

Thank you for your reply, I appreciate it!

We did ask two universities in Zagreb about this as an idea and they liked it but in the end I never managed to get enough time to make a presentation so we gave up on the idea for now especially since we are hiring three new testers this September from a company that stopped working.

Each year for the last three years, my company is hosting “JSSchool” - Free Javascript workshop for students where they can learn about NodeJS and ReactJS over 5 Saturdays and the interest and results for it is great every time.
Was talking with our designers so we are thinking of doing maybe something similar in future years but about Testing, UI/UX but for now that is just an idea.

We do not really offer real internships here (this summer was the first time we did it with 3 developers) but we do hire a lot of students where they are paid by the hours for as much as they can work and where they really work on real project (think we currently have around 8 developers students and 1 tester that is a student) since in Croatia we have a Students Job Services so Students can work and be paid per hour every month (they need to bring new contract each month so they can work as much as they can and can leave when they want).
So we are offering Students Part-time job for testers as well, but our problem was that we got only like 7-8 applications in like 8-10 months and all of them were very bad and werent really showing big motivation (when a guy applies for a job and you ask him if he knows what QA or what Tester is and he tells you “no, I was hoping you will tell me on job interview” you know he is not interested at all about it if he didnt even bother to look at what he might be doing on job…)

And I agree with you how important labeling is…
Similar post on that topic is here: Quality Assurance - stop using this term! which is why I already told them to label it, and call the job “Software QA Engineer” since we are looking for Engineers in a first place…