Questions about software testing as a job

I’m looking to learn a little more about the software tester role. I’ve been directed here.

I’ve tried reaching out on LinkedIn and Reddit but not had much success and there are no meetups locally. My questions are;

What is the best thing about the job?
What is the worst?
What challenges do you face?
What skills do you need to meet those challenges?
Who else do you know who I can talk to?

Thanks on advance.

4 Likes

Hi Kraig
I hope that’s with a K not a C. My Brother has a the C, but I’m not going to make assumptions so early. Welcome to the most awesome software test engineer community in the Solar System!

Will all the pleasantries and flashiness over, lets get to the meat-an-potatoes (assuming veg in equal measure here.) Firstly, Wow for joining and reading so many threads about what we cover in this community, I can see you are serious, so the answers might be a bit detailed.

  • The best thing: is probably that you sometimes get to define the edges or way you interact with teams because you will be a “solo” role within the team. So you might get to choose if you work closer to the dev team or closer to the release and ops responsibilities part of the org. This can mean you can choose which “parent” you work closest with even though the job itself stays the same.
  • The worst thing: is that you will almost always be in a critical path, and you will often have to be a jack of-all-trades, You will have to do some manual testing, build and look after environments, and all the way up to writing automation, and managing test plans and test reports that are worth archiving. It’s a very wide range of responsibilities, even in a large company, you will do all of these things.
  • Challenges: Becoming a good communicator. Having to learn a lot more about the entire product: It’s common knowledge that the tech support engineers and testers know more about what the product actually does than the people who code it up do. And having to often be the canary in the coal mine, but in a super gentle kind of way, and never to be alarmist. My personal big challenge for example, is to always be focused on the one right task.
  • Skills need: On top of the points covered, the ability to be flexible and pick up a new thing quickly, and ability to make notes that not only you but others can understand. Software testing requires loads of documenting, so being able to write clearly (not just bug tickets, but documentation that often goes to users eventually) is probably an underrated skill in this job.
  • Who can I talk to? As usual you can ask questions in the forum like you just have. You can also take a moment to fill in your profile info so people have some clue how to pitch responses. and then you can also hook up with things like the MOT Slack channel, the old Google Hangouts, and a recent live space created on Discord just the other day actually.
5 Likes

Hi @craigpi,

Welcome to the community! :wave:t2:

Thanks for stopping by to ask your excellent questions.

What is the best thing about the job?
I’ve had all sorts of different tester roles in my career and the variety has provided many opportunities to learn and grow. During my hands-on testing days, I very much enjoyed the opportunity to explore things to share my observations about the state of the thing I’d be exploring. I’d share problems (sometimes referred to as “bugs”), ask lots of questions, share ideas and big up my team by highlighting things that were good. I enjoyed the process of helping build better software, knowing that incrementally we were building things that would help people. It’s very rewarding and I’d always be learning stuff about myself, new tech and the people I work with.

What is the worst? What challenges do you face?
It can sometimes be a challenge to amplify the value of the role of testing within and outside of an engineering team. As in, some folks can misunderstand what testing is really about. There’s often a misconception that it’s just about “checking stuff” or “trying to break things”, when in reality I’ve observed that it’s all about revealing useful information about risks — the things that threaten the value of the thing you’re building — to help teams make better decisions about releasing new and updated software/hardware. Here’s a related article I wrote.

What skills do you need to meet those challenges?
There are many discussions on the Club around skills. Check them out via this keyword search. From my experience I’d go with:

  • Questioning skills
  • Listening skills
  • Curiosity skills
  • Negotiation and Diplomacy skills
  • Patience skills
  • Empathy skills

Who else do you know who I can talk to?
The Club is a great way to connect with the community. There are many incredible testing professionals who hang out here. Also, look for names on the Community Timeline.

4 Likes

You get a new piece of software, which nobody ever saw before, you get to break it down, hack it, nuke down the servers and give criticism on someone else his work AND get paid for it? #Dreamjob

Testing is often not hyped in some companies, finding the right spot might be though! (Depending on where you live)

Change management & Time issues. Either it’s hard to get your team the mindset of ‘we need automated tests’ or ‘there is no time to write automated tests’

Everyone here on MoT! <3 , As Conrad said there are many channels here.

4 Likes
  1. Depends on the project largely but for me, I like the constant learning - new technologies, new products, new features etc.
  2. Also depends on the project but it’s gotten a bit tiring having to manage expectations when I start new projects and work with a different group of people and be seen as inferior to others in the team.
  3. Aside from what I mentioned in #2 I would say finding the time to upskill and remain relevant. I’ve always had to upskill on my own time (as opposed to company time)
  4. Time management skills and discipline. I wrote a bit about this in my latest blog post. How I Learned to Write Test Automation as a Non-Technical Person - Nicola Lindgren

Let me know if you have any questions!

2 Likes

I want to change my answer to question number 3.
As a tester, you are a scout. As a scout you are sometimes tasked with running out ahead to find obstacles in advance of the product entering that area, often these are usability or environment risks. Stakeholders often don’t want to hear the scout report if it’s got any bad news in it. This means the scout has to find an ally to lodge their report with and then leave the matter there and not be continuously warning of hazards and creating not only fatigue, but fear. I know, this sounds like a communication skill part to the job, but to me, it’s the hardest or worst part, you have to find the issues, you do not have to own them, even if Jira thinks you are the person who raised them.

2 Likes