"... talented QA Engineers with automation..."

[article]
Summary:

I often receive emails from recruiters that go something like this:

We are looking for a talented QA Engineer experienced in /test automation|Java|C#/ for our /test automation team|agile team/. Can you refer anyone?

*scream*

Here's what I replied to the latest one (I really did! I've only edited a little!):

Dear Recruiter,

I often receive emails from recruiters that go something like this:

We are looking for a talented QA Engineer experienced in /test automation|Java|C#/ for our /test automation team|agile team/. Can you refer anyone?

*scream*

Here's what I replied to the latest one (I really did! I've only edited a little!):

Dear Recruiter,

I continue to be dismayed that companies think they need to hire a person who fits the title "QA Engineer". I've had that title before, and I still don't know what it's supposed to mean!

You're just trying to fill requests, so there's nothing you can do about it. I try to educate development teams that they can't succeed long-term with test automation by appointing one or more testers to do the automation. The programmers who write production code can write automated test code better and way more quickly than a tester such as myself who has some programming skills and even automation experience. In my experience, having testers and programmers collaborate, so that the testers specify the tests to be automated and the programmers do the coding tasks, works best over the long term.

But you didn't really want to hear my rant about that. It's extremely difficult to find good programmers who actually want a position as a tester (or a "QA Engineer"). That's because they like writing production code, though they're willing to also write test automation code when needed since it doesn't take them much time. It's too bad that companies don't instead look for testers with good *testing* skills - a totally different mindset and perspective from most programmers. Testers who are truly good at things like working with customers to formulate examples of desired system behavior, and exploratory testing, are not easy to find.

On my small agile team, my programmer teammates don't feel comfortable hiring a tester who doesn't have at bit of programming background and a willingness to get out of her comfort zone technology-wise. Each time we have to hire a tester, it takes us many months to find even a suitable candidate to interview. I'd like to convince my teammates that they could work on learning to communicate better with testers who aren't so "technical", but at least they are totally willing to pick up testing tasks and collaborate with testers to automate regression tests. But it's also true that most testers who would be a good fit for our team were already motivated to acquire skills that help them communicate with programmers.

Whom do you really need on your team? Let's think of a better title, and a better job description, if we want to grow a team that takes pride in their work and delivers the best software they possibly can.

User Comments

2 comments
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

Nicely said. I hope a few of the right people get the message.

February 3, 2012 - 12:43am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

I hope some scrum coaches will get the message so that they be able to understand the part of a tester at a scrum team.

March 17, 2012 - 7:34am

About the author

Lisa Crispin's picture Lisa Crispin

Lisa Crispin is the co-author, with Janet Gregory, of Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams (Addison-Wesley, 2009), co-author with Tip House of Extreme Testing (Addison-Wesley, 2002) and a contributor to Beautiful Testing (O’Reilly, 2009) and Experiences of Test Automation by Dorothy Graham and Mark Fewster (Addison-Wesley, 2011). She has worked as a tester on agile teamssince 2000, and enjoys sharing her experiences via writing, presenting, teaching and participating in agile testing communities around the world. Lisa was named one of the 13 Women of Influence in testing by Software Test & Performance magazine in 2009. For more about Lisa’s work, visit www.lisacrispin.com.

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