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Hard and Soft Skills Any QA Should Have

Hard and Soft Skills Any QA Should Have

In our professional life, we need to have our own toolbox so that we can always be ready for any challenge that comes our way. Many QAs believe that they need to dedicate themselves to acquiring a huge range of technical knowledge, and others believe that they are good professionals because they are easygoing and have good communication skills.

Some time ago, it was common for companies to base their hiring and promotion decisions almost exclusively on the skills known as hard skills. However, with the development of the job market and the increase in the requirements a professional must meet to be considered qualified, soft skills have earned a lot of relevance.

In this article, I’ll present a set of hard and soft skills that every QA should have. Before this, I’ll introduce the concepts of hard and soft skills and when you will need these skills.

For those who are not in the ​​quality assurance domain, we briefly present a subset of knowledge that every IT professional must have in a way to contribute more to the quality perspective in projects. In addition, I’ll present some ideas on how you can acquire more hard and soft skills, to be a greater professional. Let’s go! 🚀

Hard Skills For QA

For a long time, hard skills were the main source of analysis for a professional. It’s not difficult to understand why, hard skills are professional skills that can be measured and compared in some way, being easy to identify by a simple presentation of a certificate, for example, or by a result of a technical challenge.

Hard skills are skills that can be easily learned (and taught) through courses, training, workshops, self-study, etc. Briefly, we can define hard skills as the technical skills of a professional 👩‍💻 Here are some examples:

  • Technical courses
  • Extracurricular courses
  • Graduation degrees
  • Postgraduate, master, and doctoral degrees
  • Proficiency in a foreign language
  • Technical certifications

Given that they are easy to prove, hard skills are usually found on a professional’s resume. The most relevant hard skills will depend on the professional’s role and the company’s activity area. Technical skills are certainly the easiest to analyze. However, with the professional development and the professional market development, they no longer have the same differential appeal as before.

Soft Skills For QA

Unlike hard skills, soft skills are more difficult to identify, quantify and compare. Soft skills are socio-behavioral skills, directly linked to a professional’s mental aptitudes and the ability to positively deal with emotional factors.

Soft skills are difficult to understand as they involve more than a course or certificate. They involve a person’s entire psychosocial experience, which also makes them more complicated skills to teach or to assimilate.

Its importance in the evaluation of an employee has been growing thanks to the paradigm shift that has taken place within companies in recent years. There is no point in relying on technically qualified professionals, but who have difficulty dealing with pressure environments or collaborative work. Check out some examples of soft skills:

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Proactivity
  • Conflict resolution
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Sense of leadership
  • Ownership
  • Analytical ability

Due to the difficulty in being proven in first contact, these skills are usually less mentioned in resumes, requiring the group of recruiters and human resources to be able to identify them. Conducting group dynamics is a widely used tool to observe and assess soft skills.

When Do You Need Hard and Soft Skills?

Hard and soft skills are important at two moments in a professional’s career:

1️⃣ At the beginning, when you want to get a job. When you are looking for your first job in the software quality area, you will use your hard and soft skills to demonstrate to recruiters that you have the necessary skills for that job and that you fit what the company expects from a professional.

2️⃣ Throughout your career, when you need to evolve. After getting the job and already having some time in the quality area, you will need your hard and soft skills to grow, evolve and develop even more in order to be an excellent professional in the area.

It is by developing the hard skills that you know even more about the QA area and become more capable to work on any kind of project. It is by developing the soft skills that you will become a more APT professional to get new roles, get new responsibilities, and be assigned to more challenging and interesting projects.

Set Of Hard Skills 

Let’s see in this section a set of essential hard skills for every professional in the software quality area. The goal is not to exhaust this topic, but to present the items that I believe are currently most important for a QA.

Set Of Soft Skills

This new section presents a set of soft skills that I believe are essential for any software quality professional who wants to be a great QA 🏆 Once again, the objective is not to exhaust this topic, but to present the items that I believe are most relevant today for a QA.

  • Communication: We are always communicating things to each team member
  • Curiosity and creativity: To discover, understand, and create things
  • Patience: We are always facing problems in the application, in the infrastructure, and in the requirements
  • Self-organization: To prioritize, organize your teamwork, organize your own work, and meet deadlines

IT Professional Skills

As we always have the responsibility to promote quality, this section presents a subset of hard and soft skills that I believe every IT professional must have in order to be a quality promoter within their team 🔍 These are the hard skills that I recommend that every technology professional should have, from a software quality point of view:

  • Basic QA concepts: Testing principles, testing process, testing mindset, test levels, test types
  • Test techniques: Black-box techniques, white-box techniques, exploratory testing, testing heuristics

These are the soft skills I recommend to any IT professional, from a software quality point of view:

  • Communication: We are always communicating things to each team member
  • Collaboration: To suggest test scenarios, to help with environment problems, to help understand a bug
  • Teamwork: Quality and test automation are not a QA-only responsibility, reporting bugs is not a QA-only activity

How To Develop Yourself?

If you have just read this article and you do not know how you can develop your hard and soft skills, whether to get a first job or to develop as a professional, below are the best ways you can use to acquire knowledge that will make you a great QA. I usually use it in my daily professional life:

  • Read blog posts: Select the blogs that you like more (as this one) and read posts on that testing topic
  • Read books: There are lots of good books talking about quality
  • Take courses: There are a lot of good courses you can take online to develop your skills
  • Practice: Everything you learn you must practice; it will reinforce your knowledge
  • Attend meetups and conferences: Attending these events will give you the opportunity to meet great professionals and learn from them
  • Talk with other QAs: Sharing thoughts, challenges, and situations that you are dealing with in your daily activities should be a good opportunity to have other opinions and to gain knowledge from colleagues
  • Create your references and follow them: Read their texts, watch their presentations, take their courses, read their social media posts, and learn from them
  • Share knowledge with others: You learn a lot when you share your knowledge
  • Hire a mentor: You can have the support of a professional that can guide you to achieve your goals more quickly in an effective way

Conclusion

Hard and soft skills are essential for the development of every software quality professional. You need to always be expanding your skill set, to always be an attractive professional for the market and for the company you work for. This will give you more visibility to grow, stay in challenging roles and get interesting responsibilities.

In this article, we talked the importance of hard and soft skills, and their definitions. In addition, a set of hard skills and a set of soft skills that I consider essential to be a great QA and an excellent software quality professional were presented. Finally, I listed some ways you can use to acquire and develop your professional skills. Now go ahead and use them ✅

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About the author

Paulo Oliveira

I’m a proactive, cooperative, and responsible Quality Assurance Engineer with more than 14 years of experience in software testing. I love to automate tests for all kind of applications (both backend and frontend) in order to improve the team’s workflow, product quality, and customer satisfaction. Even though my main roles were hands-on testing applications, I’ve worked as QA Lead, planning and coordinating activities, as well as coaching and contributing to team member’s development. Mentoring people to achieve their goals is also something that makes my eyes shine.

Website- https://paulocoliveira.github.io/qa/

LinkedIn- https://www.linkedin.com/in/pcesar/

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