December 20, 2017
As we close out the year that was 2017, we welcome Gwen Dobson to The Testing Show to talk about Hiring Testers and Test Managers, the challenges and changes that re happening in the market, the issues and frustrations many of us face as we look for new opportunities, and all that that entails. Matt Heusser, Jessica Ingrasselino and Michael Larsen also join in with their own takes on entering the testing world through the side door, having conversations about money and skill, and not selling short the very real-life experiences and opportunities from learning in other work and experience capacities that don’t necessarily make sense as part of a bullet list of testing skills.
Also, in our news segment, in several states and metropolitan job areas, it is now illegal to ask about your salary history. How do you approach such a discussion if that’s the case?
- Lemome A5 Cork Covered Notebook
- 4 ways the ban on the interview question ‘What’s your current salary?’ could affect you
- Robert Half 2018 Salary Guide
- Glassdoor: Search Salaries and Compensation
- Generative Grammar
- Standout (Leanpub)
- Gwen Dobson (LinkedIn)
Let us know!
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MICHAEL LARSEN: Hello, and welcome to The Testing Show. I’m Michael Larsen, your show producer, and today we are joined by Jessica Ingrassellino?
JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Hello.
MICHAEL LARSEN: Matt Heusser?
MATTHEW HEUSSER: Happy Monday or whatever day that you are listening to this Podcast.
MICHAEL LARSEN: We’d like to welcome our special guest, Ms. Gwen Dobson . Hi, Gwen?
GWEN DOBSON: Good morning.
MICHAEL LARSEN: I guess, at this point, it’s time to make sure that we can get off on a right foot, so Mr. Heusser, please take it away.
MATTHEW HEUSSER: Hey, thanks. Most of the audience knows Jess by now, and I’m sure you know Michael. You might not know Gwen. So, Gwen and I met at STPCon ages ago—I don’t know—in 2009.
GWEN DOBSON: Yeah, it’s been a while.
MATTHEW HEUSSER: 2010. It was in Las Vegas, I’m pretty sure. Was it Pirates of the Caribbean? The one thing I remember from that was the conference party. I made like, $20.00 in Black Jack. Nobody wanted to play with me. I was so sad. But, I got to meet Gwen who, at the time—you’ve done a lot of things—were a test manager at Pearson for a while?
GWEN DOBSON: Yeah.
MATTHEW HEUSSER: Which is the company that owns Addison-Wesley. So, lots of Higher-Ed stuff. I think you were doing management and performance testing or was it functional or both?
GWEN DOBSON: Both, yeah.
MATTHEW HEUSSER: That’s what I thought. Yeah.
GWEN DOBSON: Yeah.
MATTHEW HEUSSER: So, rose up through the ranks. Was a tester, has done testing stuff, has done freelance-testing stuff, and into management. Done hiring management, and now on the job market, based out of Salt Lake City. So, if you’re looking to hire someone to talk to you, a very smart person, as you’re going to hear on the Podcast. Been looking, moved around, and a hiring manager. Today, we wanted to talk about, “The World of Test Hiring.” So, Gwen, what did I leave out of that introduction? It’s been a while since we’ve talked.
GWEN DOBSON: Yeah. No, I think you covered pretty well. Most of my experience over the past decade has been in either Higher Ed or Early Ed, but I’ve done testing in several different domains. In started in back-office, point-of-sale, retail-type applications, and moved into the financial sector for a couple of years. And then I ended up in education and have been there ever since. So, I’ve kind of found a niche there. I enjoy working with learning applications.
MATTHEW HEUSSER: By which you mean humans learning stuff?
GWEN DOBSON: Yes.
MATTHEW HEUSSER: Not Machine Learning or AI?
GWEN DOBSON: Correct. That’s correct.
MATTHEW HEUSSER: That’s a different Podcast.
GWEN DOBSON: Although, Machine Learning is starting play a big role in that.
MATTHEW HEUSSER: Yeah.
GWEN DOBSON: But, I digress. Yes.
MATTHEW HEUSSER: Okay. So, before we get to our main topic which will be, “Hiring,” we typically have, “News of The Day,” and I’ll tell you my first one that I’ll drop in the Notes. It’s I just found a new notebook that I really like, by which I mean a 5 x 7 binder that has blank pages in it for journaling for notes, for tester notes, for life notes, or family stuff. For business stuff. I try to keep a journalist’s notebook with me, and the one I like was called, “Two Notes,” and they’re out of print. I just found the new one. It’s $12.00. It’s made of cork. It’s recycled. It’s got an envelope in the bank. It’s got a penholder. It’s got a placeholder. It’s fantastic, and we’ll put a note in the Show Notes . If you collect journals, give it a try. There’s absolutely no financial incentive for this. It’s just I found one liked again. Onto other news, Michael had an article that he wanted to talk about that is actually about, “Hiring.” So, tell us about it, Michael.
MICHAEL LARSEN: Sure. This is actually pretty interesting in the since that some resent laws, especially here in California and in New York City and in a number of other places, a question that is now illegal to ask is, “What is your current salary?” in various places. To lead off the article, “As of last week, the interview question, ‘What’s your current salary?’ is illegal in New York City, and it will soon be prohibited in other places as well.” And, one of the reasons why they are encouraged by this is that they believe that there’s a few things that this is going to help, one of which is some people say that, “It’s going to help lessen the pay gap,” and some people are saying that, “They are, of course, still legal ways that employers can ask you about your salary.” Of course, if you are talking about your salary expectations in a way that sort of gets to it. There are more places that are looking at this being illegal. In addition, it’s illegal in New Orleans. It’s illegal in the State of Oregon. It’s illegal in Puerto Rico. It’s going to be illegal in Massachusetts and San Francisco in July of 2018, and other places are picking it up after that. You may still be asked by asked by this and the question then comes in on, “What do we do? How do we react to this?” Now, I have to honestly say, for me personally, it’s been more of a negotiation point. I have been asked, “Hey, how much do you make at your current job?” In most cases, there hasn’t been a downside to it, but I could certainly see where it can be, where I’ve probably been not given jobs. Because, “Hey, you’d be a really great fit for this. And, how much are you being paid? Ooh, we can’t match that. That’s not going to work for us,” and then I don’t hear anything anymore. But, it’s also worked in my favor. So, you can negotiate without spilling your entire job history and such.
MATTHEW HEUSSER: Yeah. So, to elaborate a little bit on that law (and I totally see this happening), if you have to disclose your salary history, companies are economically incented to pay you as little as possible. So, they find out that you’re making $50,000.00 a year, they want to pay you $55,000.00. It doesn’t matter that, if you go on whatever website you go to and the average in your area is $75,000.00, they’re incented to nickel and dime you; and, if you aggregate that across all the employees, that’s a big chunk of change they could lose. If someone starts on their first job and doesn’t negotiate well, then they have a low salary and they leave to go make more but they have to report that low number, they’re going to get just a small bump. You aggregate that over 20 years, and if there is a group that is not able to negotiate well or effectively for whatever reason or if there’s just one bias in there. If there’s a hiring bias in the first job and they’re offering less (let’s say they’re women or some minority, which is illegal if they’re offered less), one person in that stream offers them less, the next job is going to offer them less, the next job is going to offer them less, because they just see that small dollar amount and want to just bump it up just enough to hire them. It’s a multiplier effect on bias, which leads to pay inequality, and I think that’s absolutely true. One of the companies that I worked for had three bands. This was a while ago. Three pay bands: $60,000.00 a year, $90,000.00 a year, $120,000.00 a year. Executives never made more than $120,000.00 a year; although, they could get stock options. So, you’re paying a living wage to all of our regular employees. That worked for a dot-com startup that only had tech employees and sales people, but who cares what I think? What do you think about that, Gwen?
GWEN DOBSON: Yeah. I think it does speak to the pay gap, speaking as a woman in the tech fields. It is something that is a reality. I’m sure it applies, regardless of gender. I loved the part in that article that was talking about how, you know, “The only reason we ask is to make sure that we’re not going to underbid,” and [LAUGHTER] I giggled a little bit at that just because I think that comes into question quite a bit. I refuse to answer the question, and not out of disrespect for the person asking it. But, I tend to just straight out say, “I’m not comfortable answering that question, and here’s why.” And, it’s because in my field I have moved around quite a bit and each role is very different. For example, for the last position that I took, I took quite a huge cut in pay and the reason for that was because I decided to join a nonprofit, and it was important to me to be in a role that was (one) going to provide the opportunities and the challenges that I was looking for at the time and (two) it was going to be in an organization that was doing something good in the world. And that just didn’t have the bandwidth to pay what I had been making at the prior job. So, I took a significant cut, and that was something I was okay with for that role. But, going into the next role, that’s where it comes into question, (right?), “What the fair range for a particular position?” And each position is different, and so that’s kind of where I try to keep it focused, “What’s the going rate for that particular level of role? What are the responsibilities associated with that role, and what’s the fair rate for that type of position?” And so, I kind of turn it back on them. If they do ask, I typically will provide a range of what I’m looking for as opposed to, “Hey. This is what I was making. Here’s my bottom level. This is my absolute minimum that I’m willing to accept and then what I’m looking to make,” as opposed to “Hey. This is what I made. So, offer me $1,000.00 more,” right?
MICHAEL LARSEN: I think that’s a definite fair way of looking at it. I know exactly what you’re talking about there, Gwen, because I had a similar situation. During the 1990’s when I first entered the workforce, I entered at a very small level because, well, I didn’t have much experience and I was a starving musician and emphasis on the word “starving.” So, I was happy to work anyplace. When I got a chance to go to work at Cisco Systems as just a lab technician making $8.00 an hour through a temp agency, I was overjoyed.
GWEN DOBSON: Right.
MICHAEL LARSEN: Because it had been the most money that I had ever made up until that point. I was like, “Yes. This is awesome.” Years later, people told me, “Oh, my gosh. You know, it’s such a shame that you got paid so little.” I was like, “At the time, I knew nothing different.”
GWEN DOBSON: Yeah.
MICHAEL LARSEN: And they threw so much overtime at me, that it really didn’t matter all that much. So, [LAUGHTER], I was able to work with that. But it is true that you can find yourself in a situation where, you know, you are banded because of that. But, at the same time, yeah. You’ve got to start someplace, and they also gave me stock options. In the 1990’s, working at Cisco with stock options was a pretty darn good trade. So, I’m not complaining there. But, in the 2000’s, with the “dot-bomb bust,” if you will, I found myself going from having the same employer for 10 years to being employed by 5 different organizations in 5 years.
GWEN DOBSON: Right.
MICHAEL LARSEN: And that meant for a lot of change for me in the sense that I went back to school and that was going to be my primary focus, but I got an interesting job opportunity. Just for the fun of it, I got a chance to go test at a game company because they were bringing out a singing game, and I happened to be a singer. And they said, “We need someone who can test this game at the expert level.” I went, “Okay. I think I can do that for you.” So, for the 2 years I went back to school to finish my degree, I worked there, and I worked there for $12.00 an hour, which at that point in time in my career was suicidal. [LAUGHTER]. It was just like, “What are you doing?” I said, “Well, the point is, I’m back in school, and that’s my primary purpose for being here.” Because I was fortunate—and I have to emphasize this—that I was in a financial situation that I could’ve taken the time off to do school full time for two years but it would’ve been a tremendous burn rate on my savings, and I didn’t want to completely kill my nest egg. I wanted to make sure that my kids could go to school someday too. So, I said, “I will take this job. It’s not going to stop the burn rate, but it’s going to slow it a little bit.” Now, that’s something that I had to then work with for the next few years because they were asking, “Well, what were you making at your last job?” I said, “I really don’t want to discuss this because I did this for a very specific and purposeful reason.” But, even because of that, that meant that I ended up working for several years afterwards where it was like I was starting all over again.
GWEN DOBSON: Yeah.
MICHAEL LARSEN: It was a little frustrating, and I also want to point this out: Ageism is real. And, I didn’t really think about it when I was younger. In my 20’s and my 30’s, it was, “Uhh, whatever.” You know, “I guess I’ll just deal with that when it comes.” And now, actually, there is a pervading sense that when I go and talk to people, there are so many things that I did when I was at Cisco Systems that I learned that are tremendously helpful to me even today. I don’t even list Cisco on my “resume,” so to speak, because it’s so far back.
GWEN DOBSON: Right.
MICHAEL LARSEN: It’s like, “Well, wow. How did you learn all of this stuff? Oh, I worked at Cisco in the 1990’s.” “You – you, what?” Bam, I’m already out of that conversation.
GWEN DOBSON: [LAUGHTER]. Yeah.
MICHAEL LARSEN: You know?
GWEN DOBSON: Yeah.
MICHAEL LARSEN: Because, they’re like—
GWEN DOBSON: They think of one thing. Yeah.
MICHAEL LARSEN: “Oh, you’re how old? Oh, that means you must want how much? Oh, that means you’re overqualified. Sorry.” [LAUGHTER]. Translation, “You are too old and demand too much to be working here.”
GWEN DOBSON: No. I think it’s a very real thing. At the end of the day, and I’m speaking as both someone who’s currently looking for a job; and, from my perspective, in my job search, I haven’t really been in a situation where I have been applying and really looking for a new role in a very long time. Being in this position now, it’s very different than what it was 5 years ago even. It has evolved since then, and I agree with you. I think there is something to that “ageism,” when you’re looking for positions. There are factors that certainly rule you out immediately. I’m learning that the hard way now. It’s been difficult. Even in leadership positions, people just don’t want to pay. I think, in general, both as a hiring manager and as someone who’s looking, the salary conversation and the negotiation around it does need to stay focused on the position itself and what the role is. As someone who has hired test teams, when I look at the different roles, when I’m looking at filling and building a test team from scratch, I’m looking at different strengths and different weaknesses, and different strengths come with different levels of experience, come with different scales of pay, and so I think there is certainly something to be said for that and being able to be a little bit flexible in that. But, when I have that conversation, I hold myself to a very simple standard. I don’t answer that question, and I certainly don’t ask it of people that I’m hiring. But, what I do talk about is, “Here’s the range for the position. These are the types of skills that we’re looking for, for this position,” and that’s where I start making that good match determining whether that person is the right fit and what the pay range will be. I’d be interested to hear what other people do.
MATTHEW HEUSSER: At Excelon, we’ve done some hiring over the years and generally try to do two things: We try to base compensation on profitability for the business and we try to base it on the value that you’re adding. Let’s say we can charge a flat fee for a client and we know that flat fee is not going to go up over the next couple of years, but we think we could hold the client. So then, we bring a contractor in and they make less, and the difference is how we fund me to go search for work and go to meetings and that sort of thing and free me up to grow the business instead of having to work in it. “So, where does the money for raises come from?” Well, the money for raises comes from the reality that the contractor is increasingly responsible for continuing in that role. After two years, I’m not really the one making the renewal happen. It’s the contractor. If they make the renewal happen, we can give them a slightly larger percentage of the take. That’s how we like to do it. At times, people have told me their expectations. Once or twice those expectations were really low, and I’ve always provided more than that, “Wow. That’s a low number. I’m not comfortable paying you any less than this number.” I think I do ask what people want to make. That’s part of the conversation. If I can pay them what they ask for or more and that means a higher margin for Excelon, I guess I’m okay with that. So, I tend to start with, “What do you need to make this work?” And that’s often three numbers, “What’s the bare minimum you’d need to take, and what would you need to be comfortable? What would make you ecstatic?” And then, we try to see what we can make work?
GWEN DOBSON: Yeah.
MATTHEW HEUSSER: The other thin that I’ll do is, if it’s an embarrassing amount, I will show them and I’ll break down how much we’re making and how much we’d like to make and how much our overhead is and say, “We’re making less profit on this gig, and that’s the only reason I’m comfortable asking you to take less. You have to make a decision if that’s enough for you.” I’ve done that too. That’s how we tend to make it, “How much do you need?” Now, when we’re trying to hire people away that have day jobs, then it’s really interesting, because Excelon grows through contractors until we have guaranteed demand. So if we’re trying to hire people away, then I want to know what they’re making so I can beat that number or at least break all the numbers down. If we can break it all down and I can’t beat that number and they walk away from the deal, at least they’ll say, “Wow. Matt’s a really transparent guy.” That’s how we tend to do it, but it’s different because we’re a consulting company. If we know the value that you’re at because we know what your bill rate is going to be, valuing like, “What is the contribution of a tester in dollars to a project,” that’s very hard to quantify. So, we go with prevailing rates according to some website. But, I think it would’ve been easier when I was at the startup and we said, “$60,000.00, $90,000.00, $120,000.00. Okay. You’re a mid-career professional, $90,000.00. That’s the offer. Can you take it?” “No.” Well, it makes it the decision very quick.
GWEN DOBSON: You know, not all offers are the same. It’s not just about that salary number. There are other factors to consider, and some of that is benefits. “What does the benefit package look like? What does the time off look like? What does the culture look? What does the organizational structure look like?” There are many, many different things that go into looking at a position outside of the salary, and I think there are two perspectives to consider. Because, when you talk about “the line,” making that line in the Excel work, you’re talking about two different plans you have to make work together. Because I know, from a hiring standpoint, typically, you only have so much say over the budget. You know, I can speak from experience and certainly from a technology perspective, because QA is not a function that is revenue driving. It is, but it’s not directly revenue driving. And so, we are a cost center. Because of that, I am constantly asked on a daily basis to try to get that number lower; and, oftentimes, if I’m giving one person a higher salary, it means I’m giving someone else less of a salary or I’m making cuts in other areas. And so, it’s a balance that you have to try to weigh and figure out what the best solution looks like, and that’s from both sides where you have the hiring manager coming in and going, “Okay. This is what I can make work from my side as well.”
JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: I was thinking in terms of the employee’s side, from the interview side. I think something that I experienced earlier in my career and something that I think a lot of people experience in general is like the fear of actually setting that range to what they are worth and to what they actually need, especially if they’re kind of (maybe) moving up, you know, from (maybe) a junior position to a more senior position or from a senior position into a lead position, a lot of people kind of don’t know what they can ask for. Something that I did was to kind of scan job applications, look at the Robert Half Salary Guides , used Glassdoor , just to try and get some information about, “What was a reasonable ask?” And not base it on my salary, but base it on what’s happening in the industry and in my area. So, I tried to be an informed applicant. So, when I got asked the question, I mean, they can’t say, “Oh, well. What do you make?” But they try to say, “What range are you looking for?” I can answer that question based on research about the field, my needs, my experience, time in the field, and stuff like that. So, it’s really important for applicants to remember that they have a lot of power, and they can make the ask. The worst somebody can tell you is, “No.”
MATTHEW HEUSSER: Yeah. So, before we get to that. We’ve been talking about money for a while. We should talk about skills. So, let’s assume the job pays a living wage. We could make it work. “I need, I want, a new gig.” A person is looking for a new position. As a hiring manager, there are a lot of great-looking candidates that aren’t very good, and there are a lot of people that maybe kind of think critically but don’t have the skills. Maybe I should start with the system forces tend for you to hire the cheap person that has everything on their resume that isn’t very good. As a hiring manager, what can you do about that or can you do anything about that?
GWEN DOBSON: That’s an interesting topic; and, the reason being is the hiring process today is quite different than it was 5-to-10 years ago. Because now you have this introduction of technology into the hiring process, and you’ve got all of these keyword filters that are put in place where, in some cases, you’re only seeing a very base subset of resumes. So, it becomes, “Hey. Who can write the best resume with the right keywords on there?” As opposed to, “Is this applicant awesome?” As a hiring manager, I will be the first one to say, “Technologists are not awesome at writing resumes.” They just aren’t. It’s not a skillset that many of us are well acquainted with, and it’s not something we’re very comfortable doing. Some of the people that I have hired that have been the best testers have had the worst resumes, but I think there is a certain amount of effort that comes into sitting there and looking at a resume and reading between the lines, and that’s not something a computer can do. So, I think there are some interesting factors that are being introduced with technology and some of these filtering mechanisms that are coming into play now that make this process a little bit interesting. Because you want to find the best person for the job, and really, the only way to do that is to sift through and look for the hidden talent and look for the types of information that will tell you whether this person is curious, whether this person is a critical thinker, whether this person has the abstraction skills that (Jess) you were talking about earlier, because those are the skills that really matter when you’re looking for awesome testers. You can teach the tools. I’ve seen resumes where they list, “Ten different tools for automation,” and have touched all these different technology stacks; and yet, when you really delve into what they’ve actually done with those, oftentimes it’s not as deep as you’d image. It’s definitely an interesting process from the hiring, [LAUGHTER], perspective.
MICHAEL LARSEN: One of the things that I would add to that too is that, yeah, I have a LinkedIn Profile, and the LinkedIn Profile has way more than I would put in a resume. Generally I just say, “Hey. My LinkedIn Profile is it.” On my LinkedIn Profile, I have links to articles that I’ve written. I have links to talks that I have given. I have links this Podcast. Generally, I just tell people, “Before you look at me for anything, just go read my Blog, listen to the Podcast Episodes that I’ve produced and that I’ve talked on. My guess is, if you listen to 3 or-4 of those, you’re going to know a whole lot more about me and about what I actually can or can’t do for you.” This is what I think every tester can do. Every tester can put a platform out where they can genuinely show their skill. They can show what they know how to do. If you have a Blog, if you have a GitHub, if you have a project, if you have presentations, group those, because that gives a chance for people to actually see where you stand, what your skills are, how you can represent them, and oftentimes you can represent those way better than you can if you’re sitting in front of somebody who’s asking you random arcane questions that have nothing to do with the job you’re going to be doing anyway.
GWEN DOBSON: I agree wholeheartedly with that. It’s not enough to have a resume anymore. LinkedIn is a huge platform. It’s a huge opportunity for anyone in this business to start building the case for who they are and who they’re going to be as a technologist, as a tester. I have found LinkedIn to be incredibly helpful, not only in understanding potential employees, because it’s the very first thing I do. If I read a resume, next thing I do is go look at their LinkedIn to understand who they are, what they’ve been involved in, what groups they’re involved in. “Who are they communicating with? Who are they interacting with? What communities are they a part of?” Those are far more interesting to me than sitting through an interview. Oftentimes, I’ll even base interview questions off of what I find, just because it’s a much more interesting conversation than a list of 10 questions you have to go through to try to assess whether this person is the right, [LAUGHTER], fit. But, yeah. I wholeheartedly agree. I think, right now, for me, as someone who’s actively searching for my next role, LinkedIn has been critical for just making connections with people at companies. Because, oftentimes, submitting an application isn’t enough, especially for leadership roles. I have found that you have to know people. You have to be able to connect with people who are working there or have worked there, who can kind of give you a shoe in, and get you in front of people. Because of some of these other filters they have in place, just getting in front of people is really tough today.
MATTHEW HEUSSER: Yeah. There’s two things I’d add to that. Let’s just say it (right?), “Most executives don’t understand testing.” So, when you talk about being hired as a “test manager,” they don’t know what questions to ask. It’s worse than hiring “testers.” The best situation is usually to be promoted from within where they say, “We love what you’re doing. Can you please teach other people to do it and manage it?” But, if you’re looking at being hired, all too often in the developed world, “We don’t understand what test management is. It can’t be that hard. We’re going to hire someone who’s kind of like us,” is what happens. We could do a show on how to break through that, because they don’t want someone who’s kind of like us that has no Special tech skills. They want someone who gets this stuff and can communicate. The other thing I wanted to mention: It’s amusing to me (as Michael has said), “Many people who endorse me, recommend me, say, “You should hire Matt. He’s great. He is really. I’m good at Scrum; but, when it comes to testing, you should hire Matt.” We are not philosophically aligned about testing. They will say, “Matt is really good at these four things, that Matt suggests you not do at all.” I don’t know. Like, that’s probably out of scope for today. Again, it’s that, “I don’t really know what testing is. So, I’m going to inject my biases into it,” problem, which is just prevalent. If we can learn to master that and respond with grace and be helpful instead of be whiny and complain-y and “they don’t get it” and critical, which testers love to do, there’s huge opportunity there.
JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: So, I guess, one my thoughts about resumes and stuff in general is I think a lot of testers have nontraditional backgrounds. So, I was a public school music teacher and musician for 10 years, and then I became a software tester. So, my resume looks strange, and that gets me a lot of interviews. I’ve had people tell me, “You’re resume was just – we were so curious about the fact that you’re doing your doctorate and you were a schoolteacher and you are a musician. Like, tell us how you came to be a software tester?” I think that it’s important to make sure it is on the LinkedIn and all of the groups but also making sure that any of the relevant skills from prior experiences get on the resume in some way. I mean, my format is super nontraditional. I get a lot of experience on the two pages, and I include my teaching and my musical experience. It really informs my process and how I work with people and how I communicate and how I mentor my interns and how I do all of the things that I think I should be doing. So, I feel that working in the past skills that may not seem to fit. But, when you kind of make that higher abstract connection and use it, make sure that gets on the resume. It kind of peaks people’s interest to see something a little bit different. I mean, it peaks mine when I’m going through resumes. Hiring managers and engineers and other testers who have read my resume to hire me have said, “Wow. That was—it was—so interesting we had to talk to you.” So, for what that’s worth, don’t be afraid to share your nontechnical, non-testing experience, because there’s a lot of skill there that may not seem to apply directly but actually does.
GWEN DOBSON: I think that’s a fantastic point, because I think some of the biggest factors in my testing and my perspectives on quality, come from my background in cleaning Kmart toilets and working on cabinets. I mean, I was a cabinet maker before I got into this world, which is completely unrelated. Right?
JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Hella cool, but also no.
GWEN DOBSON: [LAUGHTER].
JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: But, I mean. Well, it’s not unrelated thought. Right? I mean, here you are, you’re solving problems. You know, you’re working within a language. I mean, and the other thing that people kind of forget I think (and I think this is slightly abstract, and I know you do have to signoff) is that coding, Noam Chomsky’s Generative Grammar is one of the Computer Science Introductory reads in a lot of CompSci Courses because computer, you know, programming languages are sometimes considered to be like Generative Grammar. So, it’s interesting to keep in mind that the interplay isn’t just something that we make up or something that is kind of something we do to say, “Oh, well. I was a teacher and now I’m a tester, and look at all the connections.” No. The connections exist, [LAUGHTER], and other people in different aspects of the field also relate and extend outside of the field. So, the fact that you were a cabinetmaker, you know, when you abstract up, look at all the skill that you bring, in terms of problem solving, delivering a product, and being on a deadline. I mean, it’s not that different. It’s just a physical product (cabinet) instead of a software.
MICHAEL LARSEN: Also, since we’re on this top and since for some people it’s like this whole we’re throwing out the, “Oh, yeah. There’s LinkedIn. Oh, yeah. There are those other avenues.” So much of a wealth of information. People just want to have someplace to look to get their head around. Ben Kelly has written a book actually about this, and that book is called Standout . It is on: https://leanpub.com/standout. It’s all about testers putting their best side forward so that they can increase their opportunities and do the best that they can, and it covers a lot of ground. I’ve had great fun talking to him over the years, and again I love supporting when people in our community try to reach out and help with the Greater Good. When they get a chance to do a book or something that’s really cool, I want to be able to support that. So, the book is called Standout. The link is in the Show Notes.
MATTHEW HEUSSER: All right. So much here. We talked for 40 minutes. I think we’ve barely scratched the surface, and I think we should just do another one with a much tighter scope (possibly a couple). Much tighter, “Are we talking about hiring? Are we talking about getting hired? What aspects of the process, and what specific advice do we have?”
GWEN DOBSON: Yeah. I feel like we did just scratch the surface. [LAUGHTER]. I think there’s a lot more to talk about in this area.
MICHAEL LARSEN: Gwen, tell us a little bit about you. How can people get to know more about you, get in touch with you, call you to hire you? [LAUGHTER].
GWEN DOBSON: You know, all of my information is on LinkedIn . It’s available there. Or you can e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
MICHAEL LARSEN: Fantastic. I think that’s a show. [LAUGHTER].
MATTHEW HEUSSER: Okay. Thanks everybody. Let’s do this again soon.
GWEN DOBSON: Thank you.
MICHAEL LARSEN: All right. Thank you.
JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Goodbye.
[END OF TRANSCRIPT]