Things I noticed when looking for work in 2021

I posted this on my LinkedIn too but thought I would post it here. These are some things that happened to me and I noticed when I was unemployed and looking for testing jobs in early to mid 2021. I have been told since that some of them are surprisingly common and represent a seriously poor understanding about testers by recruiters. I think I may have moaned about one of them already in the Ministry of Test Slack years ago :rofl:

  1. Technical Tests that seemed Irrelevant

I applied for an tester / SDET role and the technical test was to either to write a php API or develop part of an online shopping portal in React.js. Testing, apart from showing that the online shop matches the requirement, wasn’t explicitly assessed. I did the online shopping portal exercise, however due to my inexperience it took over a week.

  1. Long Recruitment Process

I remember that from application to final decision (rejection) for one role I applied for took several interviews and tests and nearly six weeks. While as you go up the career ladder it is common for the application process to take longer, it did seem to be unduly slow and long.

  1. Interviews only based on Languages or Architectural Styles

I had one interview for a technical tester role where I was only asked about the mechanics of HTTP and REST APIs - not a single question about testing them. Another which only covered C++ and some machine learning - nothing at all about testing or QA.

  1. In-Promptu Interview With No Time to Prepare

This was particularly annoying but thankfully has only happened once in my career. Being given a phone call by a hiring manager while I was on a train, asked if I had a few minutes to answer a few questions (which I agreed to) and then it going into a half-hour long technical interview.

  1. Only regarding skills used in previous jobs

This only happened a few times but while in conversation with a few external recruiters placing candidates at clients I was asked if I knew Python or Java (for UI test automation). I said I had learned and used them in my concurrent university study but not at work (my previous roles where I wrote UI automation used .NET stacks so my experience was in C#). They stated that since my use of Java and Python wasn’t in a commercial context, my knowledge of them would be disregarded. Being someone who has used my own time to develop a broader technical skillset, I found this a bit frustrating and disheartening.

I have since spoken to recruiters who said that they would never outright reject someone for a skill learned and used outside of work, which cheered me up a lot.

  1. Mandatory CS Degree Requirements.

I was surprised to see so many jobs for (experienced) tester roles in the Sydney job market where a CS degree was listed as mandatory. My first degree was in Physics (so not CS) and my part-time graduate diploma in IT was not yet finished so I was concerned that despite my own experience in testing I may fall foul of the applicant tracking systems. I did apply to some anyway - I was later told in feedback it was a contributory factor in my being rejected from one role.

Fellow one-time testing jobseekers, what were your experiences?


Thank you for sharing this incredibly helpful insight, @paulmaxwellwalters.

Good insights, thanks for sharing!

I do think that’s it’s often an occupational hazard for recruiters and potential employers to develop blinkers that hinder their ability to consider alternative types of experience and/or narrow their interviewing styles to the purely technical.

In my company’s last QA hiring round (in 2021, as it happens) we did all we could to make the process as technology-agnostic and human-centred as possible (reflecting what it’s like to be a tester at Inviqa), but it seemed like a lot of applicants were putting tools and tech stacks front and centre in their CVs and personal statements. That’s not really a criticism of the candidates, but rather a reflection of where the industry as a whole has shifted its focus.

Regarding this anecdote:

Being given a phone call by a hiring manager while I was on a train, asked if I had a few minutes to answer a few questions (which I agreed to) and then it going into a half-hour long technical interview.

As annoying as it was, I guess you could consider this a positive, as it shows that you’re able to quickly demonstrate technical competency and get hiring managers interested in learning more about the specifics of your knowledge?

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