I was recently asked for advice on how to break into testing.
I have been working in testing and software quality for 20 years. Over that time, I've seen many people pivot to a career in testing. Watching their success and reflecting on my own start, I think there are some commonalities. So if this is something you're trying to figure out, this post is for you!
Here are the 3 simple (but effective) pieces of advice I'd give anyone starting out (or who wants to get started):
Advice #1: Learn the fundamentals of testing
Having a good foundation is critical.
First, you need to learn some theory:
My friend Heather Reid wrote a fantastic article called "30 Things Every New Software Tester Should Learn". Check that out immediately!
Read the book Explore It! by the legend Elisabeth Hendrickson. For a short and compelling read about exploratory testing.
Another helpful book is Lessons Learned in Software Testing by Kaner, Bach and Pettichord. It might be getting on a bit now, but the lessons still hold!
Advice #2: Learn how to communicate
Talking effectively about your work and the work with peers and managers is vital.
Here are some excellent resources on that:
Please read Crucial Conversations: Tools For Talking When The Stakes Are High by Patterson, Grenny, Mcmillan & Switzler. Instead of devastating people with the truth or bottling things up inside, you have a third choice. This book describes what that is!
Learn how to tell a good story about your testing.
Learn how to ask good questions.
Advice #3: Network, network, network
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Get involved with the community:
Look for local software testing meetups that you can participate in. Many now stream their events online, so look out for those too!
Create a LinkedIn profile and connect with the people you've been engaging with online!
Honestly, I wish someone had told me these things earlier in my career.
But I'm at least glad I can pass them along to you.
BONUS TIP!: Another pal Nicola Lindgren wrote a book on this very topic called "Starting Your Software Testing Career". She goes into more depth about all these topics and a lot more. You should definitely go and read it!