These are probably phrases you’ve heard many times in your career as software tester. This has happened to me many times in my career, and it will continue. Software testing is more than just clicking.
However, I must admit that I was the same person before I began my career as a software tester in 2008. In 2006, I didn’t know much about professional software testing. Although I had learned a lot about programming and code writing, no one taught me how to properly test it.
Lucky me, one of my managers gave me a task to test and explained the basics of testing. I have been hooked on testing ever since. Later, I learned more about the subject at university.
Since 2008, I have been in the software development industry. I’ve worked with many teams and different products over the years. I have worked with many different teams on different products, from desktops to web to cloud and mobile apps. As a software tester, I had the opportunity to interact with people from different backgrounds and have different focus areas. You can find product managers, designers, marketers, salespeople, and even users.
Many of them asked me the exact same question: “Why do software testing interests you?”. I replied, “Software testing does not make me feel special!” I explained to them what testing is and how a tester can help teams ship better products.
This article will share the lessons I learned as a software tester, and what it takes to be a great tester.
It’s never easy to start
In 2008, when I started professional software testing, I felt isolated. I didn’t know of any testing communities, or people like me. I was completely unaware of testing conferences. While I was testing my first product, I began to learn about testing. Parallel to my testing, I was also reading testing books in order to understand testing principles and methods. However, I didn’t know all the skills that a software tester should or must have.
I was not aware of skills like communication and critical thinking.
I did exactly what was asked of me and felt satisfied. I thought that I do my job well enough. It was really bad. I was just clicking. It was a rookie error, but it was all I knew.
This job and this company made me feel bored quickly. I began to search for companies that were looking for testers. I was fortunate to find a great company in 2010. I was hired as a junior tester for software. I felt like I wasn’t the only one and I also found like-minded people.
Be around like-minded people
This new role opened up new perspectives for me. I was able to learn from top software testers how it feels to be a great software tester. I was able to learn how to test software products using different testing methods. I also learned more about test automation and functional testing.
To improve my communication skills and critical thinking, I reached out to the internal testing community. It’s crucial to test before any code is written, and for many other things.
Over the years, I developed a solid set skills that allowed me to “survive” in a fast-paced software development environment. These skills made me a great software tester. Both in my company and in the teams that I worked with, I was well-respected.
Good Software Tester Characteristics
Software testers who are skilled in software testing know how to test the product. They are also able to perform automated checks to gain more insight into the product’s health. Software testers who are passionate about their work are open to learning and willing to adapt to new situations. They are able to adapt their language to suit the needs of others and have excellent communication skills. Software testers who are good at asking questions during and before the development phase can help clarify or unclarify implicit specifications.
These are just a few of the characteristics that make software testers good. Despite working in such a company and environment, I made many mistakes.
As an example, I was creating extensive test cases and test plans to test the software. Writing the test steps and creating test data took me so long that I missed important team meetings and conversations. To adapt the test plan to new features and requirements, it took me hours per day. The situation made me unhappy and put me under constant stress.
My perspective changed after attending the first software testing conference in 2011. I learned how to improve my work style. I was able to learn more about exploratory test and how to improve communication between developers and software testers. I returned from the conference with fresh ideas. I don’t see the value of test cases any more. Instead, I wrote down my testing ideas and shared them with the developers. It was something I didn’t expect that sharing my testing ideas with developers would lead to a productive and healthy discussion. It happened. It was the right decision. I had been preparing my testing ideas for the refinement meeting, and shared them with the entire team during the meeting. This helped us build a better product that was more stable.
You can become a great tester
Looking back, it was clear that I was on my way to being a great tester. I was motivated to make the situation better. I wanted to be more than a gatekeeper and advocate for quality. Funny to say that I didn’t realize the importance of quality advocate back then in the software testing industry.
Self reflection is a key skill that I believe is necessary to improve one’s work style. Self reflection allowed me to improve my situation, which in turn helped the team. I now have the next skill a great tester needs. Leadership and teamwork are the key skills.
Leadership does not refer to people management. A leader is someone who is passionate about what they are doing. The person’s passion helps to create a positive working environment where everyone can learn and grow from each other. This person is the driving force behind the topic and is constantly exploring new areas or potentials. For me, leadership and teamwork go hand in hand. Strong leaders with strong leadership skills can have a significant impact on their team and transform it into a great team.
A willingness to share your knowledge is another attribute that I believe a great software tester should possess. There are many benefits to sharing your knowledge with other members of the team, within the company, or outside. This helps the tester build a reputation that could lead to new opportunities. It also allows others to benefit from your knowledge. Leadership skills are also linked to the willingness to share your knowledge. This is an important part of becoming great.
My Lessons Learned
This article describes a part of my career in software testing. You can see that I made many mistakes during my career. Although I have only mentioned a few of my mistakes, I made many more. Making mistakes is okay. As long as you don’t do them again. You can learn from your mistakes and improve on your work style.
You’ve also seen how I look back on my work and what I do. These are crucial steps to becoming a great software tester. If you are able to see the need for change, you can take action and improve your skills.
These are only a few of the things I’ve done. Next to my day to day job I started blogging on www.adventuresinqa.com, writing a book “Hands-On Mobile App Testing” and since 2022 I am the creator of a YouTube channel about software testing. You can see that I enjoy sharing my knowledge with the testing community. My blog was started in 2011, and I never imagined that it would lead to a book or video creation. My blog has allowed me to achieve amazing things, which is a reflection of the hard work I’ve done. I was invited to numerous conferences around the globe. I met many people in the testing industry. I was able to organize testing conferences. I advise startups on the next steps, among other things.
These amazing feats did not happen overnight. My persistence over the past 13 years has paid off. It has opened up many opportunities for me. This should give you an incentive to try the same. Persistence is the key to becoming a great software tester.
These are the four key points to help you become a great software tester.
- Invest in yourself. Learn new techniques. Learn from your mistakes and try out different techniques. You will learn a lot from your mistakes and see the value of your time in moving up the career ladder.
- It is a great idea to have an online portfolio that showcases your work. You don’t have to blog or create videos. What about a public repository of source code? There are many ways to share your ideas and work with others.
- Contribute to the community of testing. There are many testing communities. There are many communities available, from local to global. To learn from them and to share your thoughts and ideas, engage with them. You’ll automatically make new connections that could open up doors for you in future.
- You can’t stay in your comfort zone. Life is not about you. You might need to make a move if you feel stuck or unable to learn new things, or interact with like-minded people in your current position or role. You can choose to move to a different company or take on a completely new role. Although it is not an easy task, it is worth the effort.
I hope you find this article motivating and inspiring. I would love to hear about your experiences and thoughts on becoming a great software tester.