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How to get a software testing job in a recession

With the current trend of events in the economy, up-and-coming testers like me are having some difficulty getting testing jobs. What do you recommend as the right steps toward securing a job in the prevailing economic situation? Many of the job adverts out there are asking for two to three years of experience -- does this mean that junior testers do not have any roles to play in the industry, or can someone like me overcome this obstacle?

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To better answer this question, I took your question to Kent R. Grimes, CPC, and vice president of fulfillment at PinPoint Resources. Mr. Grimes' focus is on local, regional and national technology workforce initiatives. When asked about the current market for IT professionals, Mr. Grimes pointed out that IT employment is down a mere fraction when compared to overall employment trends.

"As a tester, seeking employment through the end of 2010 will be different. You will be required to be more flexible, creative, aggressive and most importantly patient," Grimes said. "Employment decisions that formerly took two or three weeks are expanded to twice that amount of time. And in some cases can be even longer."

Mr. Grimes went on to point out that from his perspective, testing is becoming more commoditized as a skill set. "Corporations are adopting more of an 'outsourced' approach toward testing, especially at the more junior experience levels. More experienced analytical testers (planning, analysis, tool selection/implementation, use case and even regression testing) are less commoditized."

What does that mean to you?

"For the near term, testers should seek employment with consulting or staff augmentation firms in addition to traditional corporate and public sector opportunities," Grimes said. "Traditional employment for testers will increasingly narrow more over the next 18 months. Often companies use these services as a means for 'transitional employment' or a dating period before offering the tester a permanent position."

Mr. Grimes went on to say that if you find yourself unemployed, "Look at offering your services on a project basis through websites like sologig.com. Identify and stay in contact with testing outsourcing firms; these will offer tremendous growth and variety opportunities over the next several years."

To that I'd add, attend local and regional technology and software development user groups and use them as opportunities to network. I also think using the time to get involved in an open source project or writing a professional blog to show your passion and research on the topic can set you apart from others in the field who are also looking for employment. Use the time to find ways to both expand your network and increase your attractiveness to interviewers.

This was first published in March 2009

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