What is your value as a software testing professional? Is it just the salary you command or is it something more? Can you manipulate your value? And, if so, how?
I’ve written about how I assess and hire software testers in the past, but the focus then was on attitude. This time I’m taking a slightly different tack and looking at value by focusing on the time before you are in the room with me. This is about how you get to the point where you believe you have sufficient value to even be talking to me about working with and/or for me.
I have incredibly high standards regarding my own abilities and therefore I also have high expectations regarding those I employ. Your value to me (and my organisation) is contextual, based upon a number of factors. The main ones being flexibility (where and how I can use you), technical capability (how appropriate are your skills to my challenges), self-sufficiency (how much guidance do you require to be able to get the job done) and durability (when the going gets tough etc.). As I have said in the past, these are secondary to my number one requirement, which is your attitude.
So, how do I assess your value with regard to each of these capabilities?
With respect to flexibility, the main criteria is based upon your capability to perform multiple roles within the team. You have very little value if you can only perform one role for me. On the other hand if I can use you in a wide variety of roles (they don’t all have to be to the same level of competency) I will see you as a very valuable team member. In sport we talk about utility players or all-rounders. There are players who can play in multiple positions for the team and therefore (among other things) can provide extra cover when injuries or suspensions occur. Flexibility is also a state of mind and this is essential in the ever changing world of technology.
Secondly, we have technical capability. There are far too many technical capabilities that can be listed here, but proficiency comes in many shapes and sizes when we talk about testing software. For me, problem solving and pattern recognition sit at the heart of our profession and what makes these so key is that they are hard to learn. However, the more technologically focused proficiencies are all learnable and therefore your ability to take on new ideas and techniques is also key.
Thirdly, we have self-sufficiency. Even if I am hiring you for a junior role I expect you to be able to think on your feet and be creative in your solving of problems. These problems can include the investigation of something you have no prior knowledge of or seeking out those who do have the knowledge you require. My style of management and leadership is one of providing a goal and some context and then allowing you to find the simplest and most efficient way to achieve it. This may take several iterations of thinking and analysis (with occasional input form me) but you do the groundwork and I will typically point you in the direction that seems most appropriate based upon my own understanding and analysis. It is absolutely key for me to allow those working for me to develop their own way of doing things as I don’t want a team where everyone thinks and works in the same way.
Lastly, we have durability. What I mean by durability is your ability to rebound from setbacks, recover from errors in judgement and hang in there when we have tough days and tough assignments. I build supportive and caring teams and therefore your ability to empathise with and support others (when they are struggling) comes under this heading too.
Dateline: Melbourne, Monday June 13 2016