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Wednesday 18th May 2016
Tags: guest blog
Software Testers are an asset to any software team and as technology continues to innovate and develop the demand for Testers is set to continue.

Have you ever wondered what exactly it is a Software Tester does? Are you considering a career in Software Testing? In this blog Software Tester Beth Marshall answers some questions about the role of a Tester and offers some tips to those seeking a career move into the sector...

 In your own words, what does a Software Tester do?
 This can be a tricky question to answer!  It’s a common theme  amongst testers that their families and friends struggle to  understand  what we actually do. From my point of view, a  software tester uses a variety of techniques and skills to review  software with the ultimate  aim of improving the quality of what  goes out of the door.  Contrary to popular belief, a good tester  doesn’t spend their time criticising  developers, or finding as many  bugs as possible.

 A lot of software testing in reality is about using your common sense, remaining pragmatic in challenging delivery environments and  ensuring quality is everybody’s responsibility.

 What’s your career journey so far?
 Like a lot of QA’s, I didn’t dream about testing software for a living when I was a youngster – in fact I had no idea it even existed as a  viable career choice until I was in my mid-twenties!  After completing a Law and Criminology degree at Sheffield University, I landed a  role as a Project Co-odinator at the award-winning software consultancy BJSS Headquarters in Leeds.  An opportunity arose to join a team tasked with reviewing a large set of manual test scripts.  After proving I could hold my concentration whilst reviewing hundreds of test scripts I was asked if I wanted to become a junior tester on the same project, and was able to apply the knowledge I’d learnt on the software itself.

In the following 9 years I progressed from QA, to Test Lead and Test Management roles for clients all over the world, was lucky enough to work throughout the UK and US and made the big leap into contracting in 2015. Like a lot of people, it took an amazing mentor (you know who you are!) to sing my praises and open some doors, a lot of hard work and fair old chunk of good luck to get me to where I am now. I love working in a thriving tech community, and look forward to many more years of testing in Yorkshire!

What’s an average day like for you?
I’m currently working as a consultant Test Lead, which I’m absolutely loving.  My current client is Provident Financial, a FTSE 100 finance company based in Bradford. A typical day involves attending stand ups, stakeholder meetings, organising workload for the test team, liaising with a tonne of people to ensure the test team are on track.  I get involved early on in the delivery cycle to review requirements, trying to spot issues early on.  I’m not above scripting and executing test cases either!  

What do you like most about being a Software Tester?
Honestly, I enjoy getting great quality software out of the door on time.  I’ve been lucky enough to work on some pretty high profile pieces of work for some of the world’s biggest companies, so I’ve seen lots of things go live from FX Trading Platforms to major E-Commerce websites and it’s an awesome feeling when something important enough to generate nasty headlines and damage a companies’ reputation if it’s wrong gets released and…. It works!  
I also love establishing a team and making stuff better – whether that’s improving cohesion between dev and test, or championing new ways of working which take off.  There are always opportunities to learn new things, and lots of networking events in Yorkshire to meet like-minded professionals and exchange ideas.  

What attracts you/Software Testers to a company?
I’ve asked a lot of software testers this question, and whilst everybody’s different there are definitely some key themes:-
1) Recommendations – the northern software testing community is a surprisingly small world, and people tend to know at least a couple of folk who work or have previously worked for most of the big hitters. If a company is rated by someone you rate this will probably trump most other factors.  Similarly if a linkedin search of the company brings up a glut of former colleagues who don’t have a great reputation but who’ve been kept on for ages then it’s a massive red flag.

2) Technology/Domain – This seems to be less important to testers than developers, but if there is a particular area you want to break into e.g. Finance, banking or e-commerce or a technology or tooling suite you want to get involved in e.g. automation you’re likely to be willing to take a salary hit in the short term to get the experience you need.  Take a look at the top 30 skills real employers are looking for using itjobswatch to make sure you’re skills are current and identify any skills gaps.

3) Training opportunities – Any company that invests in up skilling and nurturing its testing talent shows it’s a good place to work.  Even for a contractor, where you are expected to hit the ground running, it’s a good indication of a good working environment if permanent staff are given opportunities to grow.

4) Structure – Personally, I like to work at places with flatter management structures, which listen to the team’s suggestions and give everyone a voice.  I’ve been really put off some companies when I hear that the developers sit away (sometimes on a different site) from the test teams, as in practice I’ve found there’s no substitute for face to face communication (usually at the pub!).  

What are your top three tips for someone considering a career move as Software Tester?
1. Say “yes” – as often as you can! It’s amazing the doors which open for you if you put yourself in a position to accept new challenges and stay positive and approachable 

2. If you are the sort of person who needs to be constantly challenged and hates routine, then testing might not be the job for you. There is a heck of a lot of repetitive but necessary work, and if you cut corners you won’t last long.  If you are a completer finisher you’ll love it! 

3. Get your ISTQB qualification – there’s varied opinions on how valuable this is to you in your day-to-day role, but for very limited cost and time commitment it’s the best way of proving your interest in a career in software testing to recruiters and future employers alike.

There are a lot of tips to be found in Beth's earlier guest blog post “Testers top 10 ways to keep your job” here. Keep up to date with more from Beth by following her on Twitter 

Here at Amsource we recruit a lot in the Software Testing market. Our Senior Consultant Penny specialises in recruitment of Testers and is happy to speak to anybody looking for a testing role or aspiring to be Software Tester. Get in contact with Penny here. 

Browse our current testing opportunities.

Recent Comments
Very nice, i like the way you explained. I also wrote something on similar lines on functional testing. Hope you would like it -
Jack Martin, 24 May 2016
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