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Vertical Specialist: Testing our commitment or a commitment to Testing?

I was recently approached by a Testing Specialist who advised that although he was ISEB certified, possessed over 10+ years experience working for some of the premier IT sites in the North West and had conducted tesing across a multitude of platforms and applications, he was struggling to get an interview due to his lack of Automated Test experience. He explained that he had minimal exposure to some of the tools involved (Selenium mainly) but couldn’t honestly claim to be an expert in the skills required.

Keep TestingThere are several 1 day courses that you can attend to learn the basics and rudiments of most Automation Tools – Selenium, HP QTP, and Rational to name but a few. This caused me to think...do these courses partly make up for a lack of commercial experience? Or does nothing beat the real thing? As I felt ill-equipped to answer this question on my own, I turned to my network of Hiring Managers and received some interesting and varied responses...

“For me, Automation Experience is a must. It is essential that anyone who comes into our team knows how to use Selenium from the start and hit the ground running. If an applicant hasn’t used this tool in a commercial enviromment, they are unlikely to have experienced using this tool at pace or know what to do if things go wrong. I need someone who possesses on the ground experience of this tool or it is not fair on other members of the team, if we have to train our new members.” – Senior Test Lead, Digital Agency.

“It depends. Cultural fit is the most important part of my hiring process – if I feel that a candidate has a good handle on our vision, strategy, and long-term goals, then I am prepared to make the hire and give them as much time and training as they need. Good staff are hard to find, and if someone is 80% there, I am prepared to be flexible and give them the other 20% as time moves on.” – Test Manager, Online Retail Group.

“I wouldn’t discourage someone from doing the training, however I wouldn’t expect it to seriously enhance their career prospects. However, it certainly demonstrates a strong level of commitment to learning Automation long term.” – Test Manager, Financial Services.

“It wouldn’t matter at all to me. Although we have desires to go Automation, we are mainly manual at the moment and the onus is on finding people that can test well, are ISEB certified and can get on well with my team. Automation is further down the line for us.” – Test Manager, Law Firm.

It’s worth mentioning that my contacts are all Manchester based, so these opinions perhaps do not reflect the UK. There were many more responses but I felt that these four opinions truly reflected a balanced view as there was no conclusive outcome.

My personal experience as a Testing Specialist Recruiter, for both Contract and Permanent roles, is that if you have attended a professional course of any kind then you are definitely giving yourself an advantage over alternative candidates. Not many people invest in their own skill development so you will differentiate yourself from the competition.

If you would like to know where you can get some training on Selenium and even Agile, please see the two links below:

Here is the link for the Selenium Training:

http://www.nobleprog.co.uk/selenium/training/

Agile / Scrum Reference Card:

http://scrumtrainingseries.com/