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How do I advance my test automation engineer career?

Usually, software testers with strong technical skills have bright career prospects. If you're being overlooked, there's a reason. Expert Gerie Owen explains.

I have a solid resume, but my test automation engineer career seems at a dead end. How do I restart it and stay strong on this career path?

Usually, I hear this from the opposite perspective, as domain experts and manual testers struggle to move forward into more technical roles. They often lack a basic understanding of technical concepts that would give them a foundation for integrating technical trends into their professional worldview.

Ideally, with your strong resume, you should be in a very good place to move forward. You may be encountering several possible situations. First, it could be that your company is doing poorly, and there is little opportunity for anyone. Second, you may simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Your project may be relatively unimportant, and others are getting more visibility. That means that those involved with higher priority projects are the ones that are getting better opportunities.

But I'm going to suggest that your issue may have a different source. While you may be technically proficient and be able to do your job tasks very well, you may lack some of the "soft skills" in your test automation engineer career that your colleagues have and use to give themselves more visibility. Those who relate better to their peers and superiors and who are better able to explain why and how they did a particular task and obtained a certain result are believed by those around them to be more proficient.

If this is your issue, you can certainly address it; understand that you are not alone. Many technical and nontechnical people have poor interpersonal skills. Often, they must work hard to understand the point of view of others and put themselves into others' shoes. You might consider taking public speaking classes, which may help you feel more comfortable in group situations.

You might also work with a consultant who can help you overcome shyness, abrasive behavior or inappropriate interactions. Learning to live and work with others is a skill like any other.

The most important thing you can do for your test automation engineer career -- and for yourself -- is to put yourself into social situations in which you are uncomfortable. You learn and advance on your career path only when you put yourself in a position to experience them.

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