Interesting blog post and area of dicussion!
I’ve worked in IT for 15 years with time spent in development (approx 5 years) and rest in testing. I can confidently say I’ve never thought about quitting testing (or IT) entirely except at really low points, e.g. nearing burn-out levels of stress on a long-running exhausing project.
What gets me back on track when I think of quitting IT totally is what may seem like a negative, but really is a positive: asking what else can I do? A colleague always used to joke “well there’s always stacking the shelves in Tesco’s” * . The reality of that is it pays a LOT less than IT. So if I quit IT, I’ll have to find a new profession … as that is what IT and testing are: professions, and ones that pay a LOT, at least relatively speaking. So there’s the positive that gets me fired up again: money! That takes me to the next point: what more short-term options do I have?
The first is reality checking: sure I’m at a point of low ebb, but in general do I enjoy my job/company? If so, then I can wait it out, typically I’ll consider my working hours and work-life balance and adjust what I can there - with me that’s usually the problem: I have been pushing too hard and I should instead push back against an unreasonable workload coming to me! If not, then there are a few options: (1) change the company, (2) change my attitude/behaviour towards the company, or (3) change my job/company, i.e. the ultimate one: vote with our feet.
I’ve done 1 one seriously and several times less so … and to be honest, it feels good. I cannot say the companies changed very much, but there was a glimmer of hope that keeps me thinking “I can work with this positive start!”, so I keep chipping away knowing if 1 fails, then options 2 and 3 are still available…
To be honest I’ve had limited success with option 2. Usually I make changes to my own working methods and/or try to demonstrate to the company how the costs of not doing certain testing and/or being forced to timebox testin efforts due to deadlines is risky. Basically I try to use facts to make a case, as well as adjusting my own efforts to maybe finish work earlier than I have been doing and thus put in less overtime. The phrase “sometimes you have to let the eggs fall on the floor” come to mind about this one, i.e. if the company says they want the deeadline achieved no matter what, and when the physical work won’t fit into the time available, then something has to give, so I give provisional signoff with as much visibility to the risks as I can … and wait for eggs to hopefully not fall to the floor, but if they do, then we can look at where testing advised and our advice was not taken. It’s tough, but ultimately choices are choices and bad ones can have repercussions. This number 2 obviously can only go on for so long, so ultimately 1 and 2 may lead to 3…
I’ve done 3 several times, in fact at one point I seemed to be changing jobs averaging one per year. If done badly, this can be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Rationale: when you do something without very clear objectives, i.e. if you’re just really throwing the head up and quitting for the first thing out there, then the new job can be as bad (or even worse, which has happened to me!) than the last one, which is why 1 has been something I have tried a lot more with in recent years, especially as I have gained more experience so my voice is heard.
I read this in the blog post: “It’s one thing to feel like your current workplace isn’t offering you the things you need, but seeing so many people wanting to leave the testing profession entirely is a bit problematic for the industry’s future. With fewer experienced testers out there, it’ll become more difficult for organizations to reach the quality they need to succeed.” For me, it’s hard to hear this! I tried the development path and it just wasn’t for me … I came back to testing after 5 years in development, but I took from development skills that mean I can now be a SDET, so even if we walk away from testing, if it is in our blood, we may be back! If not, then I guess the economic reality is if organisations still need to test software, then salaries must increase to account for the talent shortage … and if we remaining testers do options 1 and 2, then we’ll change the industry … eventually
So basically, no matter what way you cut it, I think that’s my conclusion: like where you are, or loathe it, vote with your feet carefully … and always remember to keep yoiur skills up as you are a valuable resource that will eventually find (or create) the work environment where you feel comfortable … it will take a few steps to ge there, so roll with the punches and enjoy your journey
NOTE: * For anyone who doesn’t know, Tesco’s is a national supermarket chain in the UK