This time I’m not going to talk about automation testing, but rather share my 2 cents on how to find a job in QA with no previous experience.
So you finished a software testing course at college/university/bootcamp and now you want to find a job… How can you do this in the most efficient & quickest way? Here are my top 7 steps you should follow 👣
Table of Contents – 7 Steps to Find a Job in QA
- 🚧 Brace yourself for a bumpy ride
- 🧠 Get into the mind of your recruiter
- 🔑 Preparation is key
- 📝 CV/Resume [Downloadable template for managing your job applications]
- 🕵️♂️ Before the interview
- 🤝 During the interview
- 💯 After the interview
- 🥙 It’s a wrap – Conclusion
Congratulations on completing the course! 🎉 Now you will realize what a tough period you are about to enter… Arriving at your potential new workplace, finding a parking spot, being interviewed and scrutinized under a magnifying glass by team leaders, watched by executives and HR… Not the most fun in the world, and the phrase: “I will examine if the company is a fit for me just as they are examining me” does not hold water p in your current status. Today there is a saturation of course graduates that jump at every open junior job opportunity, so this is not the time for you to be picky (up to a certain limit of course). Unfortunately, employers have the upper hand in circumstances when you still have no experience.
Looking for a job is in fact a job in itself, and not just any job – it’s a very tough, unpaid, exhausting and demanding one, with psychological effects. Getting an email saying “thank you but we preferred to proceed with another candidate” over and over again can damage our self-esteem and shatter our morale. If you are already working at some kind of job, keep in mind that the phone will ring at the most inappropriate times and you will not be able to talk to recruiters freely… You will need to find excuses why you need to arrive late or leave your current job early.
❗ Remember you will have to spend quite a lot of time not only during the job search but also (more) in preparation for the job interview. Take under consideration that the job search can be long, but you will get better from interview to interview 💪
First, we must understand that an interviewer is also a person, a person with a constant burden on his head, from the piles of tasks that lie on his desk (employee management, long meetings, planning, endless emails, discussions, and yes sometimes QA work), he also needs to find the time to go through hundreds of resumes and interview a few dozen job applicants.
I intentionally emphasize the following sentence because it is super important: you want to make it as easy as possible for the recruiter! (I will elaborate on this in step 4 – Resume).
Studies show that a recruiter examines a resume for a limited number of seconds (the number varies from study to study). If your CV will not attract enough attention, he will browse right through you. If he encounters a substantial spelling error (for example: “Q-a tester” ) he won’t give you a second look. If the document is messy, your CV is as good as gone. If the sentences are cut in the middle (you will be surprised how much this happens when you print out the CV document), well you already know the drill… And yes, true, a pinch of luck will be helpful too.
This reminds me of the joke about a recruiter getting a pile of resumes, looking at the first one and saying, “I want to recruit him!”. His colleagues ask him: “Wait, but what about all the other resumes that are in the pile?”, He replies: “I do not want to employ unlucky people in life” 😉
Laughing aside, recruiters don’t want someone mediocre on their team, they are looking for a rockstar, someone who will give the extra mile from what he has seen so far. And if recruiters spot that extra something in your CV, then you’re probably the same candidate who will be called in for an interview.
Both in the sifting through resumes phase and in the interview phase, you do not want to be average (that’s the majority of people), you want to be the best!
What does it mean to be average? It means completing the testing course and looking for a job just like any of your other classmates. What does it mean to be the best? It means completing the testing course, figuring out how you can stand out above everyone else, work on it, and then look for a job (I know, it’s too amorphic… I’ll elaborate on that in a second) 💪
Remember this: “Once the course is over, your studies are just beginning.” The QA course gives you basic tools for working as a tester. But with just basic tools, we usually don’t land the job we want (average, remember?)…
Now, you are going to study like crazy, without lecturers, not in a class, but rather independently using your computer & internet as your working tools. As I mentioned at the end of the previous section, if you want to be average, then you can skip the study phase and hope that maybe someone will discover you anyway (hint: this is probably not going to happen).
What does it mean to learn? There are lots of tools, methodologies and technologies that you probably did not acquire as part of the course, and also those that you did acquire probably were at a very basic level. Here are some of them that you need to master:
- Learn to code 👨💻 This is the basics for almost everything in our field of work. I mean eventually, we are testing software, so why shouldn’t we also know the basics for developing software? Which development language should you learn? It doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s Object-Oriented! A smart recruiter understands that a person familiar with the principles of programming will not have a hard time switching between syntax of one language to another. That being said, if you want a recommendation on which to start – most testers learn Python and Java.
- Many colleges for example teach SQL up to a certain level (they like to define it “up to the Join level” as some kind of unexplained imaginary barrier). But there is a lot more to learn in SQL.
- Not just queries, make sure to also learn how to write Store Procedures and “play with the data” within Databases.
- Learn what performance testing means. Understand the differences between Load, Stress, Volume, Scalability, etc. Install Jmeter for example and start exploring!
- Study in-depth the Developers Tools that you have in your Chrome browser. There is a bunch to learn, from data traffic, through cookie management, working with local storage, exploring content and elements, simulating browsing speeds, designing with CSS, JS manipulations, and more…
- Download and install WireShark for example, a tool for monitoring transmitted information from/to a system. On this subject, there is also a ton to learn!
- Download and install Postman or SoapUI, to send API calls from various WebServices (In fact, learn what WebServices is, what is the REST protocol, what is SOAP and what are the differences between them).
- Understand how to work with JSON and XML files.
- Study operating systems. Install Linux for example, even as a virtual machine (and along the way understand what virtualization means)
- Learn communication networks, there are many guides on that and lots to learn.
- In the course you took, you’ve probably learned mobile and web testing – improve your knowledge on these topics & expand your understanding of it. Even without reading through your course syllabus, I am convinced that you can go deeper into valuable topics that may arise in the interview.
- Educate yourselves about information security, cyber, penetration testing. These are trending topics in the market today and will only earn you credit points in front of your recruiter.
- And there are of course many more topics that you can explore on your own online. But of course, I saved the best for last: learn automation! I’m not saying this just because I am an automation instructor, but because that is what the industry expects you to recognize. Yes, even for the role of a manual tester. And if you have not encountered this expectation so far, you can be sure it is there! As time goes by, the demand for automation increases significantly, whereas manual testing is decreasing. So make sure you are ahead of the game and start exercising using open source and free solutions, such as: Selenium, Appium and TestProject, which is especially great for anyone getting started with automation testing for web & mobile (and not just for expert testers/developers).
Of course, it is not necessary to study all of these topics in order to find a job in QA. But since you can find an abundant amount of tutorials and guides on all of these topics online, mostly for free too, then really all it requires from you is an internet connection, time and patience – Be Prepared!
Is it enough to read the descriptive materials of these topics? Definitely not! ❌ If you won’t get your hands dirty, it is not really learning. You need to write a project, install a tool, play with it, experiment. I’m sure your resume will be more than happy to have your extended toolbox now!
The preparation doesn’t end there! Building your testing reputation, making connections and using LinkedIn is up next 👉
One of the job search tools out there that many tend to underestimate. Friends, you must realize that LinkedIn is a fertile ground for any recruiter, head-hunter, human resources, outsourcing, etc. They use this network a lot to find potential candidates for their job openings, they have extended search criteria that also include keywords (such as: SQL, Linux, etc) and accordingly filter candidates.
Think about it as a business owner 💼 You would probably want your business to appear first in all search engines, right? This is how you should see yourself in the LinkedIn search engine, you are the business! You need to promote your profile to appear at the top of the various searches that recruiters perform in order to receive as many proposals as possible, and thus your chances of getting a job will increase substantially 🎯
How can you promote yourself on LinkedIn’s profile lists?
In a nutshell – you must have an attractive profile that is well built (just like a website in Google).
If we get more into detail – there is a list of all kinds of actions that need to be performed in order to promote your profile. You can find all the actions, tricks and “secrets” by searching for articles on this subject online, there are quite a few of these. Maybe on another occasion, I will create a separate post about this topic, because this post is already getting really long 😅
Form connections with people in the industry. Get in touch with QA’s/Testers on LinkedIn (in a friendly way, of course), they may very well be looking for employees at their company, so if they pass on your resume and you get hired, they usually also benefit from it (usually in the form of a bonus).
Make sure to attend online events, meetups, workshops, live demos & webinars, etc. These meetings are free of charge and are open to large audiences, so not only will you learn new methodologies/tools/technologies in the world of testing, you will also get to meet other wonderful practitioners in your field. From this point, the road to transferring your reuse from one person to another will be much shorter, and you’ll see more and more doors will open for you, full of opportunities 🚪✨
There are also a bunch of Facebook/LinkedIn/Slack/Telegram/etc groups for technical discussions, as well as dedicated ones for job seekers that in part share QA jobs for people with no experience.
Go ahead and find yourself a topic in the testing field, something interesting you feel passionate about, learn about it and write a post about it in one of the many blogs available online, on Medium, on your LinkedIn profile (Or maybe even here in the TestProject blog 😉). How cool would it be if the recruiter who was supposed to interview you searched for your name on Google and the first result that would jump to him would be the link to your post?!
Let’s start by emphasizing that writing a resume is not exact science! There will always be opinions leaning one way or the other. Here, I’ll share with you my personal opinion on how to properly write and submit your resume.
- Be sure to send only a polished resume, fluently articulated and without any spelling mistakes.
- Remember – you are a tester that is applying for a testing position, so obviously you should first and foremost check your CV properly!
- It is possible and even recommended to use ready-made templates.
- You should print out your resume and see how it looks like on an A4 page (there may be differences between the document displayed on the computer and the one printed on a page, such as a designed page that might get messed up in print, or lines that have been cut, etc.)
- Ask your friends and/or experienced practitioners to go over your CV, and give feedback.
- Do not elaborate too much or shorten too much your CV. Oh and do not define a font that is too small just so it’ll fit in 😜 Use paragraphs with a logical and clear division.
- I have seen quite a few people get confused with this matter, so I will make this clear once and for all: resumes are always written from the present point of time towards the past (what is more relevant will appear before what is less relevant).
- It is allowed and even recommended to use Buzzwords (like SQL, Jira, etc.).
- I am very much against mentioning character traits in a resume, for example, “diligent worker, team player, perfectionist”… It doesn’t impress recruiters anymore. In my opinion, it is just unnecessary text that overloads the document. Do you know a candidate who will testify themselves as not being a team player or a hard worker? Give me a break 😂
- Keep an organized file/excel sheet of all the jobs you send resumes to, including contact details and where you saw the job offer first. Here’s one I made when I was looking for a job – go ahead and download it to use as your starting point template (a small gift from me to help ease up a bit this tough process 🎁)
- Pay attention to the file name of your resume. The name should be respectable and clear: it should contain your full name and the position for which you are applying, for example: Yoni.Flenner.Test.Automation.docx
- Yes, you might have noticed I wrote docx and not PDF… Here too there is an age-old debate, I am part of the group that believes resumes should be sent in a Word document (also because of all those databases / automated systems that catalog CVs).
- There are engines that distribute your resumes widely. I, my friends, am against sending my resume around the world in such a widespread. I like to be thorough and in control (as much as possible), knowing where my resume go to (as you can see in my template I shared with you above).
- Oh, and last but not least, do not send it with any CC or BCC.
- Check the job requirements and prepare accordingly. For example, if the job requirements state there is a need for a background in working with Oracle DB, then before the interview you must download and install this database and start working on it. You’ve probably already learned the basics in the course, right? Here you will simply work in front of a different environment (written as an example and assuming that you did not learn Oracle in the course)
- Do some intensive research on the company you are going to be interviewed for! What it does, what’s their product/products, what field are they are, what technologies they use (if mentioned).
- Research your interviewer, through Facebook, LinkedIn (maybe you have a mutual friend?), search for him on Google.
- Visit company review sites (like GlassDoor) so you can find out more about the company’s working environment and atmosphere, read employee reviews, salaries, etc.
- Go to job sites that have question examples that companies ask in interviews and look for up-to-date information about your company.
- Try to solve as many logic questions as possible (available online).
- Make a list of recommenders ahead of time, only those you trust.
- I also highly recommend watching Amy Cuddy’s video at TED before your job interview: Your body language may shape who you are.
In most cases, when the interviewer comes to pick you up from the waiting room, they will introduce themselves, reach out a handshake (well, maybe nowadays not so much 😷), and ask if you would like something to drink – accept his offer with a smile. Whether you are aware of it or not – by the time you are on your way to the cafeteria, the interview has actually already begun (with less formal questions like – where did you come from, how did you manage to get here, etc.). This easy-going start will allow you to continue on to the formal part in the office from a more comfortable and relaxed place.
- Be positive! Avoid any negative attitude. Do not complain about managers or colleagues.
- If you do not know something – own it, don’t make excuses, or try to make up an answer! Think about it, you are sitting in front of a person who knows QA and has rich experience, so chances are that he will overtake you.
In most cases you will be asked questions that show general thinking and logic: how would you test a phone, elevator, etc. The nice thing about such questions is that you can actually prepare for such questions because they are repetitive, and it does not really matter which product is being tested, testing techniques will always remain in the questions.
Also, there are questions that no one really knows the answer to them, such as how many cows are there in the US? 🤷♂️ Here you are not really expected to know the answer, but rather the purpose of this question is:
- See how you cope with stressful situations.
- See how you think.
Always come to the interview with prepared answers (to yourself):
- How I work better than other candidates?
- In what way can I contribute to the company more than other candidates?
- How not to be “average” like other candidates?
This approach, among other things, radiates self-confidence. If you will not be able to answer these questions – you are in trouble 🙈
You’ve finished the interview, great! 👏
Go home and run through it again in your mind. Write down a list (or even in the same Excel template file that I attached above) the questions that you were asked, what did you know to answer, and especially what you did not know to answer. You should learn & solve what you failed to complete in the interview so that it won’t happen next time. Do it now, with no time pressure and no interviewer waiting for your response. You’ll be surprised to see you might have had the answer all along 😉
Maybe that same day the recruiter will contact you to set a follow-up interview. It could be that if they were really excited about you right at the end of the interview, they might even ask you if you have more time to stay and see if you can go through another interview, “while you’re here…”.
And as we all know – until we actually sign the contract of employment, we do not stop looking for a job and continue going to more interviews 🔍
There’s a quote by Albert Einstein that says, “Never Lose a Holy Curiosity“🕵️♂️ I can really relate to it. If you do not like to study – you are not in the right profession. If you are afraid of new technologies – you are probably not in the right profession. Curiosity will bring you only good things, not only in your professional work but in general as well.
If anyone is in need of some guidance or help on how to make Einstein’s words into a reality – reach out in the comments below and let’s open this for discussion.
Good luck everyone! 💪