Not learning and looking to move

Hi all, I’ve been working in QA for almost 3 years now. In my current position I do manual testing and mobile automation testing. I like my co-workers for the most part and feel comfortable here, but I don’t feel like I’m learning. My goal is to become solely an automation engineer or SDET but there is no one at my job who can help me with this journey. My company knows that QA is bit neglected and promised to improve but I haven’t seen it yet. I don’t think they will anytime soon. Even my automation tests are lacking because our app wasn’t built with testing in mind and it will take a while before it is. So my question is do you think this would be a good time to move on? I’ve had a few recruiters contact me because of my automation skills and am tempted to move on, but I’m a little apprehensive because of the pandemic and because I’m currently the lone tester. I don’t want to burn any bridges.


“do you think this would be a good time to move on?” is highly contextual. Assuming your job is your main/only income source, any change is as personal as it gets.

Some points:

“QA for almost 3 years now”

On the same company? Most people tend to stay 2-5 years, with occasional changes between 1-2 years and more rare cases < 1 year or more than 5. So, 3 years is a normal time to change jobs.

“neglected and promised to improve but I haven’t seen it yet”

if these promises / expectations came from one person only (your manager possibly), there is a great possibility they were onions with many different layers. They include business priorities, people under and above your manager prioririties/situations. Things are always complicated; and the bigger, the more complicated.

Either on this company, or in another in the future, you may want to have your manager to open these onions and you see who else you reach to make things happen. Also, thinking about the diff rather than binary success can be helpful - not always it possible to get to the point we want to be, but simply improving can be satisfactory.

“our app wasn’t built with testing in mind”

A bit connected to the previous point. Maybe the culture of test debriefing in the company focus too much on the story about the product status but left the story about testability.

“I don’t feel like I’m learning”

Your employer is not responsible to help you grow and learn, per se. To convince people to put you in new situations, you have to show them there are problems worth solving and that you can solve them, either because you have already solved similar ones, have a strategy to solve them or than you can collaborate with someone experienced in them.

Note: “It would be nice to have X” is not a problem worth solving. We need to identify pains caused by and benefits in solving the problem.

“I’m a little apprehensive because of the pandemic”

If we are talking about financial situation, it’s something very personal. But I believe than having an emergency fund is crucial to almost everybody. I wrote about it here.

“I’m currently the lone tester. I don’t want to burn any bridges”

Any organization and team has to be prepared for the leaving of any member. One or more sincere conversations probably will smooth things out. Additionally, following the work contract to the letter, for both sides, also help to avoid taking things personally. This post by Dave Evans may help as well.


Deciding when to change jobs can always be tricky, but it’s worth remembering that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

My goal is to become solely an automation engineer or SDET but there is no one at my job who can help me with this journey

Have you looked into external mentors?
What do you feel you need from someone to help you with that journey?
When you know exactly what you need, you may realise you can learn it by yourself enough so that you can get your foot in the door in perhaps a slightly more junior role.

My company knows that QA is bit neglected and promised to improve but I haven’t seen it yet.

As cliche as it sounds, sometimes you need to be the change you want to see.
What needs improving?
Where are the pain points/blockers?
What is the commercial impact of neglected QA?
Try to identify them with evidence, and if it’s multiple, create a list in priority order. Start to work through that list, trying to change things. Remember though, change doesn’t happen overnight and it’ll peak and trough.

I’m currently the lone tester. I don’t want to burn any bridges.

Moving onto a new role doesn’t burn bridges. You burn bridges by not working your notice period, creating unnecessary problems - ie deliberately upsetting colleagues. Implementing change for the better is not the same thing.

No matter where you go, I’ve always found I have to be in charge of my own personal development. I use the attitude with my line managers as “I’m going to learn this because of X reason, what do you think?” because 9 times out of 10, if I say “what should I learn?” I don’t always get the answers I need.

I’ve also learned from changing jobs that no matter where you go, there is always something that needs improving. No company is perfect. It’s more a matter of is it better to stick with what you know, or would you rather go into the unknown? Not trying to tell you what you should do, by the way, it’s just something worth keeping in mind.
If you do decide to move on, it may be worth sitting down and listing out what you want from a company. Keep that list in your mind when you interview and make sure you ask lots of questions to make sure you know the next company is the right fit for you.

Whichever you choose, I do wish you the best of luck.

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Can relate to this one. From my experience, these promises mean nothing (ain’t gonna happen) if they don’t present you with laid out actionable plan with hard dates for improvements.

As for moving on, you got some high quality advice in posts above. If you really feel nothing will change in foreseeable future, then it is time to move on. Don’t burn any bridges, give them early notice so they have time to prepare and hire a new tester, and make sure you first have enough savings to sustain you at least for the next few months (even if you have another job waiting straight away).

Your career is not just their business.

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Thanks everyone for your response. I will sit with my manger and how a talk with him about my long term goals, how I plan to get there and how it will in turn better the company. Depending on his response I’ll know what to do

You said you are the lone tester, which puts you in a strong position i.e. hard to replace or fire quickly. But, before you talk to your manager about long term goals, realistically think if your team/company could help you get there. If your manager senses that you are about to leave, then they might try to hasten your exit. As an aside, know that some managers can abuse PIPs (google “pip job”) to fire people without genuine reason. There are plenty of examples of PIP stories online, especially on the blind app/website.

I’d suggest that you keep applying to jobs to see your value in the market. If you get enough decent offers from good companies, then that should give you the confidence to quit your job regardless of pandemic. Be sure about what you want in the next company and check if the next company could provide all that. Choose a “reliable” company, i.e. one which is unlikely to rescind your new job because they are vulnerable due to the pandemic.

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