It’s been a while since I’ve needed to hire another tester, but that time has once again arrived. Hiring has generally been a lengthy and painful experience and this time appears to be not much different from the last. I generally put the call out to people I know that might be able to help out. If that fails then it’s time to put the word out in the Internets that I’m looking. This invariably results in a flood of CVs of which 99% are TERRIBLE. I resent this as it is a huge waste of my time – the only finite resource I have.
I might get one in twenty resumes that I don’t immediately bin. Out of those I keep, I’ll probably end up interviewing one in five.
For the sake of my own sanity I’m going to list all the things that will get your resume binned (by me at least) and some things you can do to increase the chance that not only will you be interviewed, but that you will be hired.
I don’t care how well you’ve copied that stock standard resume you googled. Most of the stuff online is fucking awful anyway. Here’s how your standard crappy resume goes:
Name and particulars
Some sort of generic mission statement about how you want to do your best for <insert company name here>
Description of tertiary education
Description of previous positions held describing your responsibilities in bullet points
There are variants which include
a bullet point list of skills with some context-free rating of competence
a list of desired positions that doesn’t include ‘software tester’ (note – if you want to be a project manager when you grow up, I don’t care, but if you’re applying for a software tester role and the ‘desired role’ field doesn’t have ‘software tester’ in it then you get binned)
These painfully generic resumes make my eyes bleed and contain absolutely nothing that tells me whether or not you might be a good fit for the role.
Moreover, these resumes are often riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. If I see these, you get binned. I consider your resume your first work product. I’m looking for people who are detail oriented and have pride in their work. If you can’t be bothered to get this right, then the job I’m offering is not for you.
Don’t tell me about how you know you’re a perfect fit for the role. That’s not for you to decide. There’s being confident and then there’s being a knob. If you’re a knob, you go in the bin.
If you’re going to go to the trouble of making a resume – something that you are hoping will make you stand out from every other person that applies for the role, why would you go out of your way to make your resume as close as you can to every other resume you’ve seen? I recommend in the strongest possible terms that you buy and read a book called ‘Rites of Passage’ by John Lucht. Read it all and pay special attention to the section on putting a resume together.
As for what I want to see in your resume, I don’t want to know what you did, I want to know what you achieved. What did you do that made a difference to the company?
Tell me what skills you have and tell me which ones you regularly use. Even better, point me at examples of your work, blog posts discussing your skills, posts to stack exchange where you’ve helped people out with the skills you’ve listed. The less work you make me do to convince me you’re worth hiring, the better. If you don’t have a lot of experience, be up-front about it (and show me what you’re doing about it. Tell me about an open source project you’re working on to improve your skills, or a software testing conference you attended recently). If you haven’t done anything to make yourself appealing you shouldn’t be surprised when you’re passed over.
Okay, let’s pretend you’ve sent me a resume that offers me the faintest glimmer that you’re someone I might be able to spend 40-60 hours a week with. The next thing I’m going to do is give you a questionnaire that shows me how you think. It used to surprise me the number of people that plagiarised their answers. Don’t do this. I know how to use the internets too and I will find out. When that happens, I will tell everyone I know and like not to hire a person called <your name here> because s/he is dishonest. Which also sucks for anyone that shares your name. I’ve considered posting a wall of shame on my blog for would be testers who are dishonest and stupid, but I’m not that much of a bastard yet.
So – answer the questions in your own words. Say what you think, not what you think I want to hear. If you think a question makes no sense or is not relevant, say so or ask for qualification. I’ve been known to ask stupid questions on purpose to see if a candidate will call me on it. Almost no one does. Don’t play buzzword bingo and don’t use nebulous, meaningless phrases unless you’re prepared to define what they mean to you.
Okay then. So assuming you’re not a plagiarist and you can think for yourself, we might get to spend some time chatting face-to-face or over the phone. I’m going to ask you a bunch more questions. I’m still looking to make sure you know how to think, and have an aptitude for the kind of testing that I will want you to do. I’m also looking to make sure you’re not a psycho and that you’ll be a good cultural fit for the team. If you’re a dick, I don’t care how mad your skillz are; we won’t be working together. If I like you and the people I work with like you then you’ll probably get an offer. There’s a lot of work in between an application and an offer though. Perhaps I should know better by now, but I live in hope that the next resume across my desk will be from someone that takes this stuff to heart. I won’t be holding my breath though.
Here’s what some other people have to say about hiring testers