Losing your job is never easy, but the way you handle the experience has a direct impact on the results that you'll be able to achieve. Being laid off can make you question your abilities, but you have to roll with the punches, and enjoy your time off while you're looking for the next opportunity.
The attack on the world trade Center, the war in Afghanistan, the dotcom bust, and other world events have all contributed to the worst recession in the U.S. economy since the early 1980s and, conceivably, the worst since World War II. With all this bad news, is there a light at the end of the tunnel? The good news is that there's always a light at the end of the tunnel—the bad news is that you have to be prepared to recognize what it means and be willing to change your career plans accordingly.
Here are three ways to help you get to the other side of these uncertain times.
1: Examine the light and turn it to your advantage.
Although this may sound like a cliché, the best job security is to always do a great job and keep your skills up-to-date. If you rely on someone else to do all of the thinking, planning, and training required to maintain your job, then you're putting yourself at risk of layoff. Nowadays, many companies won't develop their employees unless it's short-term and directly related to the bottom line—profits. So you have to ask yourself, "What can I do that will have a direct impact on the bottom line?"
Get Involved Early
What better way to impact the bottom line than to be involved in the software project at every stage in its development lifecycle? Testing no longer happens only at the end of the product development lifecycle—testers should strive to get involved at the very beginning. By and large, testers and developers can share the same vision, focus, and motivations if they begin working together early in the lifecycle. When these elements are unified, developers can deliver better products and testers become more visible (and, hence, more valuable). Testers can also help with the specification, design, and code reviews and create test cases for all levels from unit through acceptance.
Get Certified in Testing
Some companies look upon certification favorably when seeking (and keeping) candidates for testing jobs. Certifications show employers that the candidate has the motivation to learn more about testing, treats testing as a profession, and has a certain body of knowledge on the topic.
Unfortunately, there's not a single industry-wide certification program for software testers. Several different certification programs have emerged that have gained a certain degree of recognition. But the benefits of achieving any one of the certifications far outweigh any negative perceptions caused by the lack of standardization.
2: If it looks like a train, get out of the way!
Heed the Warning Signs
daylight at the end of a tunnel and the headlamp of a speeding train? There are several warning signs that a tester can look for:
- Have you recently been transferred from testing into development? In the midst of a layoff, the engineers most severely hit are usually those who had recently been transferred to development. Development managers, when faced with a choice of whom to lay off, in general turn toward the testers who are the newest in the group with the fewest attachments.
- Has your test manager been coerced into "just letting the project go" without adequate testing or even though some of the test cases failed? If this happens once or twice over a long period, it's unfortunate and it needs to be addressed. If it happens repeatedly, it's a clear warning sign that your group or the entire organization may be in trouble.
Assess the Financial Risks
Ask yourself, "What can I do over the next few months, weeks, or days to prepare myself in the event