A sign of the times, I know a handful of great testers and coders who’ve been laid off in recent months. One I just heard about today is Chris McMahon. I first encountered Chris as a contributor on the Watir, Software-testing, and Agile-testing mailing lists. At the time, I was QA Manager for a company that was having a rough time filling a position for a very technical API tester and test automation expert. I emailed Chris, one thing led to another, and I had the good fortune to work with Chris for a period.
Several jobs later for both of us, he fell prey to economic downsizing today. I have to say I was very impressed (though not really surprised) to see what a stir it has made in the software testing communities I’m a part of. The impact is clearest in all the conversation about and testimonals for Chris on Twitter.
Is this because Chris is a very skilled tester? Absolutely it is…but there are other very skilled testers out there who just aren’t as known. He blogs, he has had articles published in several journals, and he actively contributes to multiple online testing communities. And by contributes I mean he engages in dialog, he offers ideas, he offers help to folks who ask good questions. On the Watir list, he claimed an unofficial spot some time back as the Answerer Of Off Topic Questions. When someone raises something that’s more of a ruby / test design / other library related question, he has frequently had something helpful to contibute, and he’s done so, even as he worked for the last year or so at a company that uses Selenium instead.
Being a part of a testing community has many benefits: Exposure to new ideas, meeting colleagues, a chance to have our ideas tested and improved via feedback, etc. — but this is a place where it’s particularly clear. It may turn out to be a tough time to be looking for a remote testing position, but the way Chris has chosen to live his professional life over many years seems to be reaping major dividends right about now.