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You Shouldn’t be a Tester If …


So you’re thinking you might like to move into software testing? Perhaps you’re already in software and fancy a change. Perhaps you’re working in another industry and fancy a change. Perhaps you’re fresh out of college and just fancy finding a job … that you can later change.

No doubt you’ve spent some time Google-wrangling and found those numerous lists of things that software testers need to be able to do, or skills that great software testers always display, or attributes that employers think that testers must have.

Things like this:
  • You shouldn’t be a tester if you don’t have attention to detail
  • You shouldn’t be a tester if you don’t have great communication skills
  • You shouldn’t be a tester if you’re not patient
  • You shouldn’t be a tester if you’re not willing to learn
  • You shouldn’t be a tester if you don’t have prioritization skills
  • You shouldn’t be a tester if you don’t have a technical background
  • You shouldn’t be a tester if you can’t code
  • You shouldn’t be a tester if you’re not a good listener
  • You shouldn’t be a tester if you can’t work in a team
  • You shouldn’t be a tester if you don’t like to break things
  • You shouldn’t be a tester if you don’t love a puzzle
  • You shouldn’t be a tester if you don’t think like a customer
  • You shouldn’t be a tester if you’re not passionate
  • ...
Yes?

Unfortunately, as far as I’m concerned, those kinds of lists are mostly cobblers.

For me, maybe you shouldn’t be a tester if you weren’t thinking, as you went down that list, of scenarios in which those statements could be false, of situations where a tester like that might be actively detrimental.

I’d wonder whether you were tester material if you hadn’t observed that many of those attributes apply generically to jobs in software development, and many of them apply to jobs where thinking is required, and many of them apply to, well, jobs.

As you found those sorts of lists on the web, I’d hope you had sceptical thoughts about the motivations of people who write them. If not, I’d be wary about your aptitude for testing.

You may not suit a testing role, I’d say, if you are not right now wondering why I am writing this.

I’d say your capacity to discover ways in which software might not suit its purpose is probably limited if you don’t think it’s possible to find a headcount job in testing which needs none of the things on the list above.

A belief that you should conform to a list of context-free statements about what a tester must be would concern me. I'd ask whether you really have testerly tendencies if you prefer that idea to a pragmatic attitude, to doing the best thing you can think of, for the task in hand, under the constraints that exist at that point.

You’ll have noticed, I hope, that the kind of anti-list list I’ve built up here is carefully qualified. These are my ideas of what someone who could make a good tester might do, the kinds of thoughts that I'd value, an approach that I like to see.

There’s plenty more. Here's one: for me, you shouldn’t be a tester if you can’t think critically about any piece of writing that purports to tell you something about the way the world was, is, or could be.

And that includes this one.
Image: https://flic.kr/p/ekDLV1

With thanks to @massimo and Sneha Bhat for comments and suggestions.

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