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Strategies & Tips For Improving Your Testing Reputation

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At Testflix 2020 (the first-ever global testing binge coming up this Saturday, Nov. 28th!), I am delivering a short, binge-worthy talk all about the Power Of Reputation. As someone who has found work through ex-colleagues, ex-bosses or even ex-interviewees, I am living proof that reputation matters. It used to be a case of it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Right now, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. 

A key takeaway from my presentation is this:

Beth Marshall quote on the importance of reputation

To identify areas you might want to improve your reputation, try completing a Reputation Audit. This 5-minute exercise might help you to plan a visibility strategy. Here is an example of a completed Reputation Audit, you can access a blank version here.

Completed Reputation Audit

Once you’ve identified areas you wish to improve, the next question is, how? 🤔 Here are some strategies and techniques which I have seen work wonderfully well to improve your testing reputation either within your team, within your organization, or even outside your organization. Let’s get started!

🤹‍♀️ Within Your Team

If you want to be thought of in a positive way by those you work with on a day to day basis, there are a few things you could try.

Playing games with your team might seem a little odd, but it’s a great way to break down those silo’s and focus on something fun, especially if everyone is working from home as it’s easy to feel disconnected. Some examples include:

Picture of cards against containers card game

Or how about suggesting a new open source tool you could use to collaborate with your team, such as MetroRetro or RiskStorming.

Laveena Ramchandani and I wrote an article on how to help connect with other testers, which has lots of tips in there too.

🙋‍♂️ Within Your Organization

Emna Ayadi has been instrumental in championing Communities of Practice as a way of connecting with people across your organization. A voluntary group, formed around a key area e.g. testing, encourages sharing best practices and can really help you to appear on people’s radar if you’re feeling unseen.

Other things you could organize or get involved in include a random coffee generator, where people who sign up are paired with one or more coworkers for a coffee.

Example of a virtual coffee break

A lean coffee, where you get together to discuss a particular topic is also great, both internally and externally to your place of work. Why not invite others to a watch party where you all watch a testing talk and have a lean coffee chat about it afterwards?

I know it’s scary, but in my experience, you get a lot of support if you offer to have a go at public speaking. If your workplace holds a town hall, or all hands meeting maybe you could speak at that on “a day in the life of a tester”? Maybe you could suggest or implement an internal award series, or Hackathon?

Picture of John McGee being nominated for Sage Colleague Success Awards

Maybe if you’re feeling adventurous and are part of a larger company you could follow John McGee’s example and create a series of lunchtime testing talks, where you invite both internal and external folks to come and present.

🌏 Outside Your Organization

Now more than ever, there are plenty of ways of improving your visibility with those in the wider testing community. Perhaps you want to reconnect with old colleagues, or maybe its recruiters you want to impress. Here are some strategies to consider:

Be a part of Online Meetups. This really puts you on the map and does wonders for your visibility. It may be a one off presentation, an AMA (ask me anything) for an existing organization or event or an experience report on how you solved an automation challenge. Marketing it is done by the hosts as well as recording the session. Bonus tip – linking recordings to your LinkedIn profile in the features section will help to show off your skills to future interviewers.

Reach out! Lets face it, for the next few months at least we’re not going to be having those serendipitous moments of bumping into an old colleague at the train station. I have reignited meaningful working relationships with people by proactively asking for help. For example, post a message on Twitter asking who can have a five minute conversation with you about an issue you’re stuck on. This also works in reverse, e.g. you might help someone else by reviewing their slide deck for them.

Tweet asking for (and getting) help

There are some fantastic testing blogs or Youtube Channels out there, but that shouldn’t stop you from creating your own. One of the questions I always ask testers at interviews is “how do you keep up to date with the latest testing trends?” – if people can tell me who’s blogs they read, or better still point to their own, it’s super impressive. Story telling is one of the most effective ways to make yourself memorable – so tell yours.

If you’re looking for a way to demonstrate your technical ability which is visible to others, try creating a Test Automation Portfolio on GitHub, or contribute to an open source project such as Selenium or take advantage of TestProject‘s newly introduced Share Center, for global sharing capabilities of automation tests.

If you want to be at the front of a recruiters mind when that perfect role comes in, connect with them (ideally before you are in the market for a new role). Lots of recruiters host meetups, podcasts or are happy to do a short video interview with you which could help prospective employers see you as more than just a CV on paper.

photo of Beth doing a testing interview with a recruitment agency

Summary

If trying any of this on your own scares you, collaborate. Wonderful things happen when you accept offers of help, or ask someone to join forces for a project you want to come to life. My first full presentation was with my then boss, who helped to review my slide deck, was a great sounding board to practice on and helped calm my nerves on the big day (thanks again David).

If nothing else, amplify your visibility by being publicly positive about those around you – giving kudos on Linkedin, commenting on other’s posts instead of just liking them, or getting in touch with someone to say why you enjoyed their talk, as demonstrated by Chris Armstrong of  the awesome Testing Peers podcast series.

Example of giving Kudos on Linkedin

If you agree leveraging your reputation is important to securing long term success, I hope I have furnished you with a few actionable ideas to turbo charge yours. It’s important to remember to always be genuine and sincere in your efforts (false flattery and broken promises to join in never impressed anybody) and to give back where you can.

Please do feel free to feedback if you have some thoughts or more suggestions, I’d love to hear your stories! 🤗
–Beth

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About the author

Beth Marshall

I am an active and proud member of the global software testing community, having worked as a tester for the past 12 years.

Based in Leeds, UK, I currently work as Senior Test Engineer at Smoothwall.

I love helping others in the community, and regularly blog about test automation, reputational awareness and anything else that springs to mind!

Take a look at my blog here: https://beththetester.com/

Feel free to connect:-

https://www.linkedin.com/in/beth-marshall/

Tweet @Beth_AskHer

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