Must have ISTQB....really?


(Andy Carrington-Chappell) #1

It seems pretty common practice now, for potential employers to insist upon a certificate in testing. This is often the ISEB/ISTQB Foundation certificate at a minimum. Now before I go into this, I want to offer a disclaimer. I do hold both the ISTQB Foundation and BCS Intermediate certificates in software testing, largely due to my past employer insisting upon it.

Now there are a few issues with requesting these certifications, but the main one occurs when using agencies or job sites for recruitment. This is especially true where these make use of CV screeners. Looking for keywords in a CV document is no rationale for finding a skilled tester.

Now you might say that at least it provides some CVs for review and those that have taken the time to do the certificate. But wait! What about someone who has worked in a multitude of indistry sectors, has been a tester for ten years plus, but has not seen fit to undertake the certificates? I feel that by insisting upon these certificates we are missing out on potential talent. Moreover, by making use of CV screening technology in general I feel it is significantly detrimental to finding quality potential employees.

Certifications aren’t everything and in my personal experience it is easy to find people who hold the certification, but when interviewed know nothing of its application. Worse, often they know nothing of testing in general.


(Stéphane) #2

OK, interesting. I have no experience with CV screeners but, because I don’t have any certification, do you think that it is possible to fool them by adding “No ISEB/ISTQB certification”? :wink:


(Andy Carrington-Chappell) #3

:smiley: Yes quite possibly :smiley:


(David Shute) #4

I’ve interviewed quite a few certification holders over the years. I always ask them why they got it. It is almost always because employers required it. I have yet to hear someone say they got it to improve their testing skill.


(Andy Carrington-Chappell) #5

I think this is absolutely key here. I myself as you have read got mine due to employer requirement. From there it seems that employers ask for it…I wonder if they know why they are asking for it??


(John) #6

Having been in support when the MCSE boom occurred the presence of that certification proved that for the most part, they were good at learning the test and that it was a mistake to assume that it could be applied to real-world scenarios.

Realistically without experience to go with the cert, it counted for little and while it was never a hindrance to anyone being hired it was never in the requirements, or weighted, as a positive when selecting people to screen on the phone. Happily I find that the kind of companies that hire in this manner are those I probably wouldn’t enjoy working with , so yeah there’s a positive:)


(James Sheasby Thomas) #7

I don’t think ISTQB has ever come up in an interview, but then I’ve never applied for a job in an established Testing department. If asked, I’d say that I feel that I have the equivalent knowledge (plus specialist knowledge) gained ‘on the job’, so doing the certification would be redundant.


(ernie) #8

In my experience, this kind of screening just tends to be a factor to make the number of applicants manageable. It’s the same thing as asking for x years experience or a 4-year degree, Masters, etc.

The only places I’ve seen any of these types of bars to jump over being dealbreakers is when companies are getting inundated with applicants - maybe they’re getting hundreds of applicants for a position, and since they don’t have time to go through all those resumes, they get it down to a manageable dozen or so by using some aribtrary-ish factors.


(Margot) #9

I have ISTQB foundation level. I took it because were I work at we realized different clients use some terms as different meanings. This is ok of course, we always adapt to the client. But we wanted to have a standard within our testing vocabulary. Al least for when discussing between us. And even when looking terminology up in the internet sometimes different meanings would come up. I don’t think foundation level really offers much in terms of up scaling testing skills. Although you need it to be able to take the following ISTQB certifications which seem to offer more.

Maybe some employers ask for certifications because they like to say their software is tested/QAd by “ISTQB certified software testers”? Sounds pretty, doesn’t it?

The company that I work for did NOT really care for us having it though. We actually requested it.


(Adam) #10

That would be me! I got Foundation because it was required by my first employer, and recommended by my test manager (whom I greatly admire up to this day, she did an amazing job at the project of that size). Then I got all the Advanced ones on a whim, partially because I was benched for a while, wanted to become even more interesting to customers, AND I wanted to gain insight into processes. I must say, I was very satisfied, but the deal is - I attented only one course for all the advanced ones. For others I did self-study. I must admit, that the test management was the most interesting for me, and - behold - it was actually quite useful in my very next assignment, where I could use it to help out the test department head in improving the process we were all engaged in.


(Andrew) #11

These days I tend to see it as an amber flag on the company’s view and knowledge of testing in general.

In my distant past I have to admit I encouraged and supported training to get some team members this qualification, large offshore team, with hierarchical education and cultural backgrounds and English as a second language, bottom line it made things easier to manage but really did not promote growth in them as testers and in hindsight this was my mistake.

If the goal is command and control management of the team rather than growth of individuals it is actually quite a good fit but that is also where it also raises amber flags for those looking for testing roles where they really want to work in a highly empowered progressive environment.

In the wrong hands it can actually send the thinking around testing backwards in my view.

The intermediate and advanced levels do have some good and useful content and if you had a good trainer I can see a lot of value in studying those but still for me it carries a little too much formulaic thinking and maybe even an over focus on the known risks rather than a focus on the discovery and investigation of unknowns which is where some other course excel in getting that thinking across.


(Kim) #12

Right on the money David… I personally would never had bothered and I do not reference back to it, but it opened door to companies via a non-technical recruiter.


(Heather) #13

Reminds me of this post (that has the highest number of replies so far on the Club :sweat_smile: )


(Graham) #14

For me as an employer, I look for foundation as a minimum implies knowledge of test phases, terminology and some application. But that’s it.

As a tester, I took mine back when it was ISEB and felt it was worthwhile for the reasons mentioned above. It’s the same reason I sat foundations in ITIL, Prince 2, Certified Scrum Master and MS Programmer etc.

But we all know certification is a business in its own rights. Sometimes you have to play the game to get on.

Although, the CV scrapers now send me countless inappropriate roles due to that list.


(Jean-Jacques) #15

Hi,
I’m a former operator who did testing for a few years. I’ve been taking ITIL for my company but honestly all things considered it did not help me understand what I was doing as much as after I took ISTQB. I agree with you on the relevance of certifications and I tend to think that way for many of them. It is frustrating but we live in a stupid world. I would really love we get back to something that makes more sense. That said in our industry we need to reassure our clients on our ability to perform what it is they need. The way we often think of is certifications. That said while not having a cert does not prevent you from being proficient the opposite is also true. Holding a piece of paper barely just show that you could understand some information given on the syllabus. I’m a ISTQB Foundation certified person and yes I took it to display my will of being in the test industry. While some people would tell it is a useless piece of paper I’d rather tell it is a piece of paper that helps you have a basic grasp on things. If I understand well, as is the ISTQB cert has not much value until you get to the expert level. Then you will need to prove you’re really proficient which gives that certification a different value. I wish I can possess such a cert someday.
The cert won’t teach you to be a great tester but a job is your way open to become one. In the end you need to start somewhere. If you don’t give a chance to new testing blood, there also you can miss potential talents.
Kind regards,


(Darrell) #16

Maybe it is the places I have applied to in the past or maybe it is because I haven’t been looking for work in over 6 years but I never found jobs which required any sort of certification.

I have also been a hiring manager and only once did I work for a company which used CV screeners to filter down the number of resumes they sent me (otherwise I’d get 1000 resumes for each position). Most the time the people who made it past the CV screening were not at all qualified for the job. They were just really good at getting past CV screeners.

Maybe talking to friends or leveraging sites like LinkedIn to find someone to recommend you might be more fruitful.


(Jean-Jacques) #17

Not every place needs it. I had an interview in France and they do not care about the certification. In Luxembourg however you can expect to be asked for it. It depends on where basically.


(Terryl) #18

I’m one of the testers who gained certifications to improve my skills. I was the first tester in my company. My line manager had no testing experience and being new to the job, I actively seeked to complete courses and certifications. I have now been in the job 3 and a half years and I have put together most of the processes we use in our quality department and I would never have been able to do it without having done the courses. I am always looking to learn something new in the quality world and always looking to up-skill myself, so definitely open to doing more. :slight_smile:


(Alexandre) #19

In the end HR will require testers to have an Agile PMI, ISTQB, Java Oracle cert, Atlassian certification (…) I’ve refused to pay for that certification, based on my experience it did not make sense.


(Andy Carrington-Chappell) #20

With the support of a community such as this one, do you feel that you could have created and learnt without a cert?