Hire someone with a Testing Education

Hire someone with a Testing Education
Photo by Liam Truong / Unsplash
Whenever possible, you should hire testers with testing certifications

There are 2 big challenges when hiring for a role:

  1. Getting enough applicants
  2. Finding a match within those applicants

Should a hiring manager focus on hiring testers with certifications over those without?

No, they should not.

First, it creates a funnel problem. Many skilled testers are not certified and excluding them reduces the number of available applicants. When a role doesn’t get enough applicants it becomes much harder to find a match.

Second, it creates a culture of groupthink which is dangerous in testing.

Having said this, as a hiring manger I've found any form of testing education (including certifications) on a resume to be a positive signal.

Testing Education

Becoming a good tester involves continual self-study, exploration, intellectual flexibility, and learning. Learning comes from a wide range of educational sources including:

  • conferences
  • peer workshops
  • meetups
  • courses
  • books
  • certifications

Deeper Conversations

A few years ago after I hired for an open testing role I analyzed the data I collected from the resumes. I wanted to learn more about my process and the candidates themselves. Less than 16% of those applicants had any kind of testing education listed on their resumes.

As I began interviewing candidates, those with any kind testing education did better. Seems obvious in hindsight but it was a surprise when I started. I assumed if I interviewed someone certified we would disagree over terminology and/or have conflicts with theory. In reality the conversations went deeper and created more respect and better rapport.

When the vast majority don't have any education, some is better than nothing. Go figure. From then on I leaned more towards candidates who spent time educating themselves. In the end about 21.4% of applicants I interviewed had some kind of testing education.

A little more on hiring

In my mind this is a question about hiring, not on the value of certifications per se. If you are curious about my position on the value of certs it closely aligns with the AST's position.

Let's talk a little more about hiring:

Finding good quality candidates is hard. Finding good jobs is hard too. As a hiring manager I'm looking for the best candidates in a sea of people. If a small minority of applicants have spent time trying to become better, I want to know about it.

Yes skill levels and applicability vary. But I want to know about those people who are taking the time to get better. That little signal from testing education is enough to warrant me spending my time to learn more about them and their possible fit.

Whenever possible, you should consider hiring someone with testing education. If you have some kind of testing education on your resume, I want to talk to you (when I'm hiring).

The Association for Software Testing is crowd-sourcing a book, Navigating the World as a Context-Driven Tester, which aims to provide responses to common questions and statements about testing from a context-driven perspective.

It's being edited by Lee Hawkins who is posing questions on Twitter, LinkedIn, Slack, and the AST mailing list and then collating the replies, focusing on practice over theory. This was my reply.

P.S. The annual State of Testing Survey for 2023 is live and collecting data. It is a great data-driven source of information the whole community benefits from. I will be filling it out and I ask you do the same.

Once data is collected it will be published for free. You can learn more here.

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Jamie Larson