"Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright"- Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption. This blog is from one such bird who couldn't be caged by organizations who mandate scripted software testing. Pradeep Soundararajan welcomes you to this blog and wishes you a good time here and even otherwise.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

BPO / Support / Call Center / Homemaker to Software Testing

Over the last few years, I have received at least about 40 emails and a couple of phone calls from people working in tech support, BPO, call center, homemakers asking for my advice to get a job in software testing or to make a career in it. I am tired responding to the same set of queries from different people. Now, that doesn't mean I wouldn't be interested to talk to people. I just hope they read this and have a different question or a situation they'd like me to address. 


However, this post is not just for those who want to change their career from BPO or Tech support to software testing but also to those who are hiring managers, interviewing testers and to all those who are aware that they are a part of the future of software testing.

1: Chasing dream versus chasing a day job

A friend of mine gave my number to his friend who works in a Technical Support job at a reputed organization and wants to move into software testing. So he called me to seek my help. I asked him, "Why software testing and not something else?" and he didn't have an answer. That is perfectly fine. He then said he wanted a day job and found software testing as an easy possibility.

I started to probe his dream of what he wanted to be before he landed up in Tech Support. His dream was to be something else. I then explained that moving to software testing might not help him feel any better than starting to chase the dream. He agreed and is now chasing his dream of photography.

2: Turning lemon to lemonade than faking it as orange

Some people have asked me if it would help to fake their experience of a tester of the product they were providing technical support just to get interview calls. I have helped them understand that there is a lot of value in presenting the truth than trying to show it as something else, get caught someday and be blacklisted by NASSCOM and a whole lot of companies spoiling future growth chances.

Having worked in several product organizations, I realize the importance of interacting and collaborating with support teams. If I were to hire a few testers for my team, I would definitely be interested to talk to a support team member. We did that in one of the product organizations I worked. I have talked to hiring managers of large and small product organizations who have done that. I think most of them are internal hiring and some rare cases of external hiring.


To all those who are considering to hire testers, stop doing what you have been doing all this while - hiring those who have been in testing only. Where were you before you started to do testing?


3: Learning software testing in 10 days OR Crash course about how to crash


With many folks wanting to learn software testing, lots of people are making money out of it. For all those in the world of software testing, do you know how many institutes are there per square inch of Ameerpet in Hyderabad who can teach testing in 5 hours if you'd like so and have enough cash? 


Not just Ameerpet, there are lots of chota Ameerpets that I have come across. These kind of training centers are a huge contribution factor for spoiling young minds in India. If God makes me rich, I shall wipe out each one of them.  These training centers run weekend batches for Tech Support folks and spoil their ability to learn testing. 


So, when folks who work in Tech Support and have attended such draining programs (yes, that was intentional) get in touch with me for seeking advice on job search, I have helped them to pick up two books: Testing Computer Software & Lessons Learned in Software Testing. For the most recent ones, I have also suggested Perfect Software & Other Illusions about Testing.


I also have suggested them to hook up with a tester every weekend and try some hands on testing or participate in open source projects for a while. For just one I have helped by doing a paired exploratory testing. One of my student in the Hands on Software Testing Training - India's first true hands on only testing training I delivered for Edista in 2008 & 2009 was in Support and he demonstrated his testing skills to his employer to be moved to testing.


4: Test Report instead of Resume / Profile


When my father started his first job after his Diploma in Electrical Engineering, he applied to the job with a CV / Resume. So, using a CV / Resume is that old an approach which hasn't changed much, except that he used a typewriter and we use MS Word and a Laserjet Printer. Lets try to change.


In the last 3 months, I have 4 emails from hiring managers in Bangalore, Chennai and a country outside India seeking help to hire skilled testers. One of the things I have suggested to them is to not ask people to send their resume unless it is accompanied with a test report. For hiring managers, it would be easy to see what kind of tester they want by looking at the test report. If the person says, "I am skilled at automating checks", so be it, demonstrate it and attach the scripts along with the resume. Needless to say without violating any Non Disclosure Agreement. Open Source software testing suits best. The interviews are actually discussion around the test report rather than "What is the difference between this and that?"


I am writing a whole big book on software testing interviews. A publisher just rejected the book but that's OK.


BTW, don't send me your resume and ask me to refer to those hiring managers.


5: Why some developer guys from India suck big time?


Nothing about their programming skills. I have done career counselling almost all through my career for others and myself. Hey, its a skill with which we are born, at least that's how we behave when someone approaches us for advice :)


So, having worked with some testing institutes, I volunteered to take up any work I could that would let me to speak with testers and potential testers for my own learning purpose. My blog, as you know, has brought me a lot of people with varied kinds of queries. So, I have some experience dealing with those developer guys who walk in months after their marriage, looking for a job for their wife.


These great developer guys come and ask, "I want my wife to take up a software testing job, do you offer job guarantee courses?". So, to the question, "Why software testing?", they'd without any bit of shame, answer, "I want her to earn and come home on time so that she takes care of office work and home work in a balanced way". 


One guy tried interviewing me to see if I know enough testing to teach his wife and help her learn testing. Not just me, one of my student, Arindam, was inspired to coach testers and works for an institute in Bangalore part time. That institute runs a special batch for home makers. Arindam shared his experience with me about the batch. He too said what I had already experienced. My advice to all housewife / homemakers whoever you want to call yourselves as is to read Parimala Shankaraiah's blog & Meeta's blog. Hey wait, there are quite a few others in India. Read their blogs to understand how passionate they are, how difficult it actually is to be good in testing and how they manage home and office work.


6: A break / sabbatical in career is just fine


Some women testers who take a break or sabbatical, try getting back to the industry but the industry treats them bad. Most hiring managers are blind in noticing people with break. They think they would be at loss of value if they hire them. 


I think stopping someone who is passionate in testing but had no other option than to take a sabbatical or break not getting a job is a big hindrance to the entire software testing industry. If I were Parimala Shankaraiah's employer and she needed a sabbatical, I would welcome her anytime she wants to come back. Not hiring her is like fooling myself and my company HR policies.


7. The actual meaning of "Our company is an equal opportunity employer"


There is a VERY BIG company who has an office even close to my home who has this statement, "We are an equal opportunity employer" in their website but didnt allow me to even apply to an opening just because I didn't have an ISEB/ISTQB certification. Let me tell this to you: I felt blessed by God to be not eligible to even apply to such companies because such company environments wouldn't have made my career strong.


The company which actually is an equal opportunity provider is one that selects its employees based on skills and not if they purchased a certificate. So, if you dont get jobs in such places, feel blessed, you really are. Keep demonstrating your skills and jobs will come to you. 


Santhosh Tuppad, my student with just one year of testing experience (and tons of experience in finding and reporting bugs) got an offer to be a Test Lead for one of the top companies in Asia. Although he couldn't take it up then but I just wonder if he had to be a Test Lead at some of those fake equal opportunity providers, how many white hair he should have had.


So, here are some points to ponder:
  • If you choose to be misguided by what others say then you deserve it.
  • If you have some other passion and want to be a software tester because you think its an easy job, you are spoiling an opportunity to help your children see you as their inspiration to pursue what they want to be.
  • If you are OK to live others dream, don't question, just follow. Never crib / complain in life.
  • If you want to test out testing, do so with open source projects and by collaborating with some good testers around you.
  • No job is easy but all jobs can be done in an easy way.
  • Fakers will get caught.
  • Build your testing skills and demonstrate them.
  • Attract employers don't always get attracted.
  • Build your own brand. Get organizations proud about hiring you and not the other way.
  • Many services companies count heads - not brains. Target tech start ups.
  • If nothing works out and still you dream to be a tester, start your own testing services.
  • Its OK to fail.
  • Its important you succeed chasing your dream irrespective of whether your chase was successful or not.
  • Chasing your dream is the only way you can know if you can really be successful
As and when I encounter more points or more different questions, I shall update this post.

20 comments:

RIYAJ said...

nice post...thanks for showing me path more clear..*smiles*

Rahul Gupta said...

This post has been worth waiting for. Reading it was like expecting a ray of hope at the end of tunnel, yes there will be a day when people (read organizations) will have a different ways to measure Work Experience, Knowledge, Skills of individuals.
I believe that becoming a good tester is NOT an easy task and thanks to people like you who keep on sharing their experiences and never say no to any questions being raised by someone like me. Yesterday, Michael Bolton wrote a post answering my questions that really helped. Today, it's your post. The daily reading has been a routine for me....and it is helping me in becoming a better tester. But I feel that message is still not going to masses, to people who are capable of making this change (in mentality) really fast.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Rahul Gupta,

But I feel that message is still not going to masses, to people who are capable of making this change (in mentality) really fast.

If its reaching people like you, who I am hope would help in bringing change within the places you work and shall inspire the younger folks in your team, I am happy.

It would reach the masses but probably not today. There is a tomorrow.

Rahul Gupta said...

It would reach the masses but probably not today. There is a tomorrow.

You bet Pradeep, I am doing my bit....not sure if its enough though. All the best for Book on Testing Interviews.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pradeep,
I am a regular reader of your blogs and posts. I did that because your blogs were informative and inspiring!

But somehow I was disappointed with this post. I agree with you that you are speaking with respect to normal human tendency and mentality; but I felt you were missing the whole fact that not everyone gets to do what they want!

I believe that if you are doing a task by some derived force and not by choice does not mean that you are not suppose to do that. If you are doing justice to the task and job even otherwise then that is excellent.

As scholars’ say "Satisfaction does not come with achievement, but with effort. Full effort is full victory" and "Satisfaction consists in freedom from pain, which is the positive element of life." - So if you full fill these then its a healthy society around!

Furthermore, I believe change is the only constant thing in life, so today if you take up a role by force there is all possibility that you would love what you do in the very near future.

Leaving aside a dream profession and dream career, everyone would have dreamt of leaving a happy life, if you think your decision is in those lines then please do go ahead. Think all options but choose the best is my principle!

Your message to hiring managers and organizations about how to choose the right candidate is correct but not for people who are looking for career options is not in my opinion!

Please do forgive me if I have hurt you or anyone, it’s just my opinion! And do believe I am not writing this post in guilt, I am testing professional by choice and I love my role!

Thanks so much for all your fantastic posts!
All the best!

Nandan said...

An inspiring post again :) You are right about change of methods in recruiting testers. I always felt that the so called "big" companies tend to show off in their interviews - they advertise for one post and when they get a candidate they just ask some very "techy" questions to show off that they are doing this and that and then rejects you. If you get through the interview somehow, you will get to know what they are really doing!

Eagerly waiting for your book. Hope you will get a publisher soon :)

Sherry Chupka said...

Some companies in the United States require a 4 year degree and I've been trying to decide if I should go back to college. I have a 2 year degree in Computer Science and have been working as a tester for 12 years. I have a family, so I don't have the time or money to go back to college. Testing is not an easy job and one where you are always learning new things, which is what I like. I will just have to skip the companies that require a 4 year degree when I look for a new job someday in the future.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Anonymous,

But somehow I was disappointed with this post. I agree with you that you are speaking with respect to normal human tendency and mentality; but I felt you were missing the whole fact that not everyone gets to do what they want!

This post is about those who are unable to get what they want & help them get what they want.

I believe that if you are doing a task by some derived force and not by choice does not mean that you are not suppose to do that. If you are doing justice to the task and job even otherwise then that is excellent.

If someone can do a job well that they are not interested at, imagine how good they'd be doing when they do a job they are interested at.

Please do forgive me if I have hurt you or anyone, it’s just my opinion! And do believe I am not writing this post in guilt, I am testing professional by choice and I love my role!

Why does it hurt? Also, I am hurt in a different way that despite being a regular reader, you chose to remain anonymous.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Sherry,

Some companies in the United States require a 4 year degree and I've been trying to decide if I should go back to college. I have a 2 year degree in Computer Science and have been working as a tester for 12 years. I have a family, so I don't have the time or money to go back to college.

Yikes! I am fine if they were asking a 4 year degree at entry level positions but despite your 12 years in testing, if they still ask that, I am not sure if they value your experience.

I will just have to skip the companies that require a 4 year degree when I look for a new job someday in the future.

In other words you are saying, "I will have to go to a place where they respect what I have done after my 2 year degree" - which is good for you.

Thanks for your comment and putting it on Facebook. I was thinking this post would ring bells only with Indian testers, you proved me wrong.

Anonymous said...

@Pradeed,

This post is about those who are unable to get what they want & help them get what they want.


May be that I read it with a different perception in mind in that case.


If someone can do a job well that they are not interested at, imagine how good they'd be doing when they do a job they are interested at.


I assume he/she would have chosen to get to a different line than what they dreamt was due to circumstance; So how good would they do their dream job does not come into picture!


Why does it hurt? Also, I am hurt in a different way that despite being a regular reader, you chose to remain anonymous.


Sorry about it, but its just that my nature! I always believe voice matters rather than name and more over I prefer backstage and background task. So its not offensive!

Fake Software Tester said...

Very nice post.

Fakers will get caught

Disagree. Mostly, they don't get caught. They get better at faking it and try to make a living out of it. If they get caught, they get to make a living elsewhere as a fake tester!!!

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@ Fake Software Tester,

Disagree. Mostly, they don't get caught. They get better at faking it and try to make a living out of it. If they get caught, they get to make a living elsewhere as a fake tester!!!

Would you and I be able to catch?

Yes. And for those who cant test a tester deserve hiring those fakers.

Parthi said...

A Very Much required theme which I think is still a far cry.

You talked about Ameerpet, the situation in US is far worse and tarnishing for Indian Testers. As I just relocated to US, I was absolutely aghast to find out that there are LOT of agents who facilitate a week’s training for college grads (no need to mention they Indians study here) and put them into work as testers with 6 years experience. And the recruiters (shamefully Indians again) who work with the US companies as hiring/testing managers share financial interest with such agents and they place those candidates.

I had to reject (with rage & at loss of 3k$) one such request to train a batch. All that he did was to move on and find another guy to do this job.

As Kiran Bedi said in one of her interviews many are just swallowing, and it all depends on ones tolerance level. Problem is if one stands up, there are ten to replace him/her and ultimately the negative system is what is winning . This she said for different context and different problem but I think this is very true for what we are talking about.

rashmi said...

Hi Pradeep,
It's a wonderful post about the myths of software testing.I met a lot of people in India who thought testing is a no brainer job & being a programmer or developer is some kind of achievement.Well, no hard feelings for developers(As I was one long time ago).I soon discovered that testing is something I want to do & even if people thought & think I am a fool,I left my job as a developer.Even if today I don't have a job,I am really at peace because I am learning something which I like.Right now,I am in U.S. & I still meet people who think testing is for people with low IQ.I am just amazed that so many people think testing is an easy job or there is no growth in it. I can only say,Try it & you will be amazed by the depth of critical & logical thinking & of course,common sense it needs.
Thank you for such a wonderful post.You are really an inspiration.
Rashmi.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Rashmi,

Here is how I would want you to see:

The testing that they have seen must have made them feel testing is not a brainy job. Nothing wrong about it.

What you could do is to demonstrate to them what skilled testing means. That way, it helps them to rethink what they want to say about testing.

Talking against them hasn't helped me move an inch in the past. Over the last year and half I am shaping myself to understand their perspective, be patient with such people and help them see what I am seeing and finally leave it to them to decide what they want to think about it. I move on.

"Any job is easy to do if you don't want to excel in it"

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Parthi,

I don't think this is India specific or testing specific. I know this happens at a much larger scale for other jobs in the Western world.

Try becoming a programmer and traveling on a H1B visa :)

akanksha said...

Your post was quite inspiring. It seems as if it was writtern for me only.Thanks a lot, now I feel that I can be a good tester even if I am not hired by any company. Pleae give me the link of some good open sorece testing sites so that I can continue my testing prectice.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Akanksha,

Sourceforge is one such but I would prefer you join the WeekendTesting to be able to get a hold of testing along with other testers or wannabees :)

Krishna said...

Pradeep, wonderful post.

Mohammed said...

Perfect post... thanks and keep sharing this valuable info.