Don’t know about you, but when I was at the beginning of my career (as a software tester), every time I got the question from recruiters “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”, I could hardly find a proper answer to that. Because it’s hard to predict. You would like to give an answer as realistic as you can, but the lack of experience doesn’t help you much. And what would an answer like the following would sound like?
“I want to be a senior tester!”
As my career progressed, I learned that to be a senior tester you have to develop your soft and technical skills, but a bit much more than just marking some checkboxes in a company’s internal personal development plan. On the other side, being a senior tester doesn’t mean that you know them all, on the contrary, you know that you are not perfect and you are OK with that.
The discussion about seniority in engineering and more precisely, in software testing can be very vast and there are plenty of lists all over the Internet summarising all the things that a senior tester should have in his or her job description. That’s why I’m not going to reinvent the wheel.
On one thing I would like to sit more and discuss — it is called maturity.
What is a mature software tester?
I think I found some key aspects — out of many — in defining the road from a senior tester to a mature one.
1. Taking credit for a good idea is not the ultimate goal.
2. Communication — with developers, with other testers, with stakeholders, with designers, with business analysts, and with project managers. When this gets improved, you know you’re on the right way. Be proactive and don’t be afraid to raise concerns and risks.
3. Realising how much you don’t know — and having the power to accept it and the self-drive to improve yourself.
4. Accept and assume the responsibility given — and not throw someone else under the bus when things are not going as planned or as desired.
5. Helping yourself not expecting others to do it — as I was writing in some of my previous posts, you have the responsibility for your professional growth.
6. Share the knowledge, collaborate, and lift the skills of those around you — be open to pair testing, for example, and help others with suggestions. This can also involve a lot of patience and didactic skills from you.
7. Empathy — in this domain, empathy is very useful. As testers, we have to understand the users of the application we are testing and emphasize their needs.
8. Giving feedback. Constructive feedback — we are all tempted sometimes to blame some buggy code written or some incomplete user acceptance criteria, but the art behind this is to learn to point these kinds of things in a constructive manner.
9. Accept that not everything is bubbles and butterflies — and instead of complaining about how messy your job is, focus more on finding solutions to make it work.
10. Show flexibility and openness — after many years spent working as testers we tend to have our own routines. And when someone else comes and gets us out of our comfort zone, proposing some other big new ideas, we tend to stay focused only on the things we know best and refuse other input. There should be no “mine vs. your opinion”.
11. Have the bigger picture — usually, a tester’s role is somehow in the middle of the product-development axis, and having insight in both domains can help a lot in understanding how testing should be conducted.
12. There is no “I” in “Team” — have the capacity to help yourself and also help others to act as a team, not as pure individuals.
I don’t have the perfect recipe to follow to become a mature tester. But what I do think is that maturity comes with age and experience.
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash.