Overcoming moments of wanting to quit

I read a blog post recently that explored “What you can do before quitting your job as a tester”. The post ended with an interesting question.

How have you overcome moments when you’ve wanted to quit your job or your career as a tester altogether?

I thought it might be helpful for people to share what they have tried and how that worked out for you.

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Interesting blog post and area of dicussion! :slight_smile:

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” * :stuck_out_tongue:. 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! :money_mouth_face: 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! :stuck_out_tongue: 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 :slight_smile:

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 :sunglasses:

NOTE: * For anyone who doesn’t know, Tesco’s is a national supermarket chain in the UK

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I’ve been struggling with this quite a lot during this year, and it started way before pandemic. I’ll have to draw the line eventually, but having a stable job during these uncertain times is very important, so I’ve been postponing that decision and forcing myself to continue working “as is”.

My main pain points are that testing is heavily underappreciated and undervalued in my country, and this “trend” reflects to almost all available local companies, which kinda makes it a bad career choice. Add some company-specific negative effects to that like bad knowledge-sharing culture, teams split into silos, zero chance for advancement for tester position (unless you want to move into project management, but that’s not my cup of tea), and repetitive projects that never get enough testing budget, and you’ve got yourself stuck in a working environment that starts to feel a bit toxic for self-development.

Definitely not going to quit IT, but I feel like staying in testing and just changing company would not suffice to regain my motivation, so I’ll probably have to switch to another role (DevOps maybe). My yearly review meeting with someone from C-level is later this month, then I’ll see whether my goals meet with their vision for the next year.

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Can definitely relate to this. Wish you every success with your C-level review/meeting!

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Milos . Sorry to hear it coming over in that way. Best of luck for the review.

I must say I’ve never quit a job in test because I did not like the company… wait a moment I have actually, probably twice. Unfortunately I was never going to overcome the feeling and I did think about the possible outcome boiling down to becoming a supermarket shelf packer. That realisation that becoming a shelf packer was almost appealing, was the trigger. When I finally felt that packing shelves would be better, I stuck my hand out and jumped. I had been under pressure to perform better. So the thing that helped me prepare to jump ship was knowing that life is always about ups and downs, and that after this low point, the life rollercoaster would start to climb again. I may even revel in the low points of the life rollercoaster ride, because if used right, they can motivate your biggest life course adjustments. These kinds of concepts has always helped me stay really positive in my notice period, change is coming. Always be happy in your decision to leave, if you don’t think leaving will make you significantly happier, stay dammit, the bills need paying!

In this lifetime you, and your well-being are the most important thing when it comes down to it. You may have a person you care for, but even in balance if you become suicidal, you become no good to the person you are the carer for. You alone are responsible for your own happiness, it’s a decision you make, nobody can really tell you to be happy. But when you are, you function more efficiently.

Another thing that often helped me to stay positive was to think long game. We all get the imposter syndrome thing come visiting, and when it does you have to say to yourself, for every 1000 lines of code the developers wrote where you only found one bug, that only means that you are the best placed person to find the next one, because you know the territory already. So reminding myself that testing is actually quite hard to do well is a big positive enforcer. If it was not people would be competing hand over fist for the job, you don’t see that in the recruitment sites nor even internally in the office, for a reason.

I just want to finish by saying thank you to @gerardmccann , mostly for the shelf packer analogy, because it rings true for me too; but also for holding up a mirror. A mirror that reflected a lot of my experience, especially the letting the eggs fall on the floor bit. But also damn you for making me write such a long input to this thread when all I wanted to do was agree that quitting rarely solves anything.

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Well, I’ve been there and I didn’t overcome it!

But that was ten years ago. And when I finally left that role, it was a mixture of factors that led me down that path, and what was happening to my role was only one of them. Others were the direction the organisation was taking as a whole, and the way that my position as a civil servant was being portrayed in the country. Each of those things on its own wouldn’t have driven me to leave; at that stage, I’d been in the QA role for fifteen years, with the organisation for twenty, and a civil servant for thirty years. So I’d gotten used to the tribulations of each; it was the combination of factors at that point that made me decide that it was time for something different.

It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment thing: I’d secured a book contract perhaps three months before; and the route I used to leave the civil service required a lot of hard thinking and forward planning, plus a process of actually applying for voluntary early retirement.

So the point that I think I’m trying to make is that “moments” of wanting to quit are one thing; actually quitting is a big move that needs serious thought and planning. And even then, things will not go to plan. They didn’t for me, and I’m in a very different place now than I was then, and it’s been a rocky road to get here. It takes reserves of intestinal fortitude that you may not realise you have. So don’t give in to those moments on a whim; make sure it’s what you really want to do, and have a plan. Even if it’s only a bad plan, it’ll be better than no plan at all.

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We aim to please sir. LOL. Thaks muchly for your post. It’s nice to hear from others who have been through the corporate mill over the years :slight_smile:. As we say in this part of the world (Northern Ireland), keep her lit, hey! :stuck_out_tongue:

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Exactly my problem. If it was only one issue, it could be addressed and maybe fixed. But instead it is a combination of different negative factors related to tester position at current company.

To be fair, there are many positive things that I like in current company, that’s I’ve been working for them as a tester for the past 3 years. It’s just that I’m now convinced that tester role doesn’t have any bright future with them because of the company direction and general attitude towards testing. I’d be interested in another non-testing position with them tho, if they accept to let me switch (with generous exit time from tester position and mentoring another newcomer if needed).

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I quit testing. I’ve never wanted to quit testing since.

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@kinofrost interested to know, do you miss it at all? …And if you’re happy to say, did you leave IT or just testing?

Thanks

I don’t miss it because I saw what it was becoming and I remember all the bad things that happened to me and people I care about. My experience with testing, the testing industry and elements of the testing community became so poisonous I’m still getting over the state I was in when I left. I still think about testing sometimes, mostly the memories making me feel bad or feeling empathy for those I left behind. I carried the philosophies and heuristics with me into what I wanted to do next, which was various kinds of media. Photo and video work, mostly, some 3D modelling. I had two clients on the line when I got sick, and I’ve been unable to work since then.

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Chris. I wish you well in your career change. If it helps, you did inspire more than just a few of us with your deep experience, insights and help along the way.

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Seconding what Conrad has said! You inspired many and I wish you well on your career change.

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+1 to that, I remember your posts were very helpful when I joined MoT and was just starting with my testing career. Best of luck in your new career.

It’s also comforting to know I’m not the only one for whom the testing got so poisonous to the point I want to completely change career. I did a lot of self-reflecting over the past year or so, and I would often start by blaming myself for being unable to lead testing process towards something I was comfortable with. But now I’m pretty sure I did my best, and significant process changes simply cannot happen if there is no support from the top-level people in company.

Still don’t have hard date for that C-level meeting, but I expect it will be some time during next week.

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@heather_reid Thank you for sharing the article and the question here! And thanks to everyone who’s chimed in - I’m really enjoying all the discussion that has taken place here.

This conclusion is excellent :smile:

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It was sad to read in the blog post that more and more testers are unhappy. This sounds a bit more like a systemic issue.
What helped me not quitting:

  • finding something new to do I enjoy, like additionally becoming Scrum Master
  • focusing on the end of a situation, like terrible college is retiring soon
  • changing what can be changed, like reducing work hours or getting out of a toxic project
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We might have drifted a bit in offtopic here with extreme situations like mine. It’s important to note that problems within testing career will always occur and you should first reflect on these and try to change things for good before making any rash decisions. Quiting is your last option, not your first one.

I still love testing and have learned a lot from it over the past 3+ years in that shoes. It’s just that in my case I’ve lost motivation for it because of being exposed to bad things for far too long (toil work, tight schedules, uneven treatment, lack of advancement opportunities, etc.), things that I cannot change by myself within a reasonable future period.

I also want to note that some skills you learn from testing will positively impact every aspect of your life, well beyond what you do within office hours. Like empathy, effective learning, rational thinking, breaking down overwhelming problems into actionable chunks, better understanding of how things are connected together, risks and impacts, etc…

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When I was a games tester, I saw no career in testing and I actually was on the path to becoming an associate producer.

But on the same day I was offered that job, I got my first non-games testing role and I ended up starting all over.

In each of my roles since then I have come to the point where I have ended up either bored, stagnant, frustrated or a general feeling of meh…anytime from two months to five years.

In those instances, I have tried speaking out, looking for alternative opportunities, a little like the contents of a bottle of Diet Coke when some Mentos have been dropped out, at breaking point.

Eventually, all have led to me seeking to move elsewhere trying to ensure that I am upfront about what it is that led me to look to leave and attempting to ensure that any of that debt or baggage isn’t carried with me in the new place.

It will always be a work in progress, but actually the testing community as a whole has been an immense place of support for me. I started the Testing Peers group as I was feeling lost as a leader in my workplace with no peer support or accountability, without those things I would have fallen apart.

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I struggled with one person on a nearby team… This brought back a memory for me.

Did a stint in a company that fell on hard times and had to let lots of people go. Before that happened I was one of the 3 testers in the company, the other 2 in a nearby team, were manual testers (although they did use a fair bit of automation magic to help them.) But they had a bloke in their team that almost nobody liked. He was grumpy, but grumpier than I am, and he was never wrong. I took a bit of life-lesson from this learning, but steered clear. In the first round of redundancies, he was gone. But I still felt bad about that.

When redundancies get announced, remember that the hardest working as well as most productive people tend to get kept. So don’t jump if you have a strong work ethic, learn!

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I quit testing before I even started. I attended Test Bash NZ, did some online learning, got all hyped up about how my skills would transfer over from development to testing, then got rejected from every job I applied for.

It was a sobering experience.

But it made me question why I was trying to pivot my career. I already had a passion, advocating for better experiences for people with disabilities. Why wasn’t I doing that anymore?

Value conflict, basically. Toxic work environments where my values only got lip service. Fighting to make progress with one team, then people moved on and I had to start over again. No feedback from end users, so no idea if all the effort made any difference. Too many other responsibilities which everyone thought were more important.

Eventually I burned out and quit. I went travelling on and off for 4 years. I had lots of amazing experiences, but it didn’t really address my burning issue.

So I went back (I needed the money anyway). For a while I tried Chris’s number (2) “change my attitude/behaviour towards the company”. I decided to be more lenient on the people creating the problems, rather than be that critical nagging voice that no-one wants to hear.

I felt better about not creating waves and I thought “hey, these people are smart, they know what they have to do, they’ll figure it out for themselves”. But no. For those people that really mattered, it just meant that they took my silence to mean that there were no issues anymore.

I decided I had to get some real-life grounding. Getting out into the community and meeting people with disabilities. Understanding human rights, discrimination, daily barriers to life, remembering that you should never judge a book by its cover. Doing lots of research and finding parallel areas of interest.

Then, back to the same office. Same smashing of head into brick wall over really basic things. Unbelievable. But then something equally unbelievable: I used my experience to describe the people who would be excluded by the current design decisions. Something amazing happened: the brick wall vanished! I could finally take some small steps towards my vision.

Will I get rich doing this? Unlikely. Is a rich man innately happy? No.

In summary:

  1. You can justify or ignore the issue, quit, or distract yourself with something else, but you can’t deny your core values and passions.
  2. You can’t control other people, only yourself. If you don’t do it, who else will? You’re the only one who will do it your way.
  3. Meeting the people for whom my work does matter was critical to reigniting my passion and driving me to do it better than before.
  4. It’s called work for a reason :wink:
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