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🥧 Pie-Mail - What makes a senior a senior? 🥧

published6 months ago
3 min read

Hi everybody! Welcome to the Easter weekend edition of pie-mail!

I hope those of you that have had an extra long weekend this weekend, have had a good one. I'm spending next week on holiday in Taupo, so will be slow to reply to emails and things.

But please reach out if you have questions or feedback on this weeks newsletter - I'm always grateful to hear from people that have read it, and enjoy the conversation.

This week it's all about what makes somebody 'senior'. Check it out!

👴 What makes a senior a senior? 👴

We're hiring at Fergus for a Senior Quality Engineer. (There'll be a link to the job later in this email if you're interested in applying.)

Getting this job ad out has made for an interesting week. I've had conversations with people inside and outside my organisation, about what this really means. What is a 'senior'?

Firstly, this sort of terminology is subjective. The 'junior > intermediate > senior' progression means different things at different organisations. A senior at one company may be doing the same job as an intermediate at another - and so on. So, 'senior' is a really rough estimation.

I've settled on a few things that I think are critical qualities that make somebody senior - whether the title be 'tester' or 'quality engineer' or 'QA'... Here they are:

  • Skill in testing as a craft - the ability to critique a piece of software, and report on risks uncovered. So, not just "I found a bug", but, "I found a bug and here's why it is (or isn't) important".

  • The ability to prioritise - when faced with a large piece of work to test, the ability to pick out what are the most important things to test first, or spend the most time on. Especially when requirements are vague.

  • Good mentoring and coaching skills. This could be coaching more junior testers on how to approach their work, or, coaching developers on how to test.

  • An eye for 'organisational bugs'. That means identifying risks, or opportunities for improvement, that go beyond just the product. For example, identifying opportunities for automation, or, identifying problems with the way teams are structured.

  • Some knowledge of what's happening in the industry. Trends, practices, and who are the key influencers in testing. For example, I'd expect a senior to at least be aware of Rapid Software Testing and Modern Testing, and hold an opinion on them.

One interesting thing that's come up is should a senior tester/QE/QA know how to code?
I think
no - a tester doesn't need to know how to code. I say this, because I can name at least two excellent seniors who have never done any coding. That said, some coding skills will always be to your advantage - I'd still strongly encourage having this as a tool in your tool belt.

Would be really curious to the thoughts of other people though. What, in your mind, or according to your organisation, makes a 'senior'?

🖥 Neat stuff from around the internet 🖥

📖 Read

📺 Watch

🎮 Play

  • Mike Talks' numbers game is one of my favourite tools for coaching testers. There are thirteen builds of the game - can you find - and more importantly, describe - the bugs in each build?

💼 Job corner 💼

As mentioned earlier, we're looking for a Senior Quality Engineer at Fergus here in New Zealand.

Fergus does cool things, solves real problems, and is fully remote from anywhere in New Zealand - although we have an office in Auckland too, if that's your preference.

If you're interested, apply above, or you can let me know by replying to this email. I'd encourage anyone that considers themselves 'intermediate' to reach out too - I'm pretty open to chat about what could work.

We're also hiring for SRE and Engineering too - again, let me know if you're interested!

🎟️ Events coming up 🎟️

Let's play with a screen reader! (22 April)

Ever used a screen reader? It's an important, and sometimes overlooked accessibility feature. This month at UX Auckland, UX Engineer Prae Songprasit will demonstrate how screen readers work. As a side note, Prae is also a speaker at NZ Testing Conference in July!

An Introduction to Accessibility (27 April)

Another talk on accessibility! This one is an introduction to accessibility concepts and tools, from Xero's Steve Barnett.

An Introduction to Diffblue (28 April)

Ministry of Testing Auckland are hosting this meetup, an introductory session on Diffblue - a tool for automatically generating unit tests. Not sure if I'm sold on the idea, but interested to see what it looks like anyway.

Reminder - NZ Testing Conference is coming (for real!) (1 July, Wellington)

A couple of setbacks because of COVID, but NZ Testing Conference is definitely happening in July. Really hope to see you there!

👋 Thanks for reading! 👋

Take care, and reach out to me any time on LinkedIn or Twitter.


James a.k.a. JPie 🥧