I’ve just started my second round of teaching Black Box Software Testing Foundations for AST members. Besides the obvious benefits of what I consider to be a very well designed and rigorous course, there are the side benefits of meeting interesting folks from all over the world, and the discussions that arise. One student who’s currently between jobs, and has extensive experience testing embedded software but is looking for a job testing web applications asked me for advice.
Looking back on my answer to her, it seems like something others might appreciate as well, so I decided to publish it here as well.
Specific ideas for transitioning from testing one type of software to another:
- Consider finding a relevant open source project to help test. I can’t think of an open source web app right now, but certainly experience testing Firefox or Watir sounds relevant to me…and even experience testing something further afield like Open Office shows that your experience is applicable beyond embedded software. The bug reports you file here become a publicly visible portfolio that you can link to in your resume.
- Consider reading/learning more about web testing in particular. You might add some of what you’ve read to your cover letter or resume directly, or perhaps it will just inform how you answer questions when you get called for an interview.
- Finally, if you’re having a hard time getting the permanent job you want, consider getting a short-term contract to get web testing onto your resume.
And then there’s the general advice:
- Make your resume & cover letter shine. When I’m hiring, cover letters that convey personality, communication skill, and intelligence are few and far between. I am *much* more likely to call a candidate with holes in her/his resume if their cover letter is strong – which certainly includes enough personalization that I can tell s/he has thought about working at *this* company in particular.
- Are you not getting called for interviews? Ask friends or colleagues who you can trust to be thoughtfully candid to review your resume and cover letters.
- Are you getting interviews but not getting offers? Ask the hiring manager why. Five years ago, when I was transitioning from my first testing job and looking for my second. I got turned down for a gig I was interested in after the second interview. I worked up my courage, called the hiring manager up, and said I wanted to know why I hadn’t gotten the position so that I could learn and improve myself. He was very impressed…and in fact after talking for 10 minutes on the phone told me he’d changed his mind and made me an offer. While I can’t guarantee that that’ll happen for you, I think there’s at least a decent chance you’ll learn something. As a hiring manager, I’ve had a lot of candidates who turned me off because of something they wrote or said, or who I turned down because of a skill they appeared to lack. I don’t believe it’s my business to point this sort of thing out unsolicited, but if someone takes the initiative to ask I will often be happy to offer a friendly tip or two for the next place they apply.