Agile Testing

by Stan Taylor

How to market yourself

by Stan on 2011/06/08, no comments

I really enjoy helping QA engineers with their careers, but if you’re a stranger asking for help, how you ask makes all the difference.
Back in 1006, I received this email:

Subject: QA in Austin
Body:
I am a QA professional in Minneapolis, and I may be moving to Austin in the next few months. I found your resume and web site through Google.
You sound like a pretty interesting, friendly guy based on your website. I’m hoping that you may be able to let me know of some people in Austin who may be hiring for senior software QA positions. I’d also be interested in learning about any professional quality assurance organizations in Austin. I’m currently a member of one in Minneapolis: http://www.tcqaa.org/TCQAA/2006/2006_02_09.html
I’m not sure what the general salary range in Austin is compared to Minneapolis. I have a feeling that I may need to adjust my expectations downward.
I know that this request is out of the blue, but I would appreciate any time you could give me.

I happily provided him extensive information about Austin and the job market. In our subsequent email correspondence, I connected him with some local recruiters and other QA professionals who I thought might be able to help him.
When he later moved to Austin, he invited me to lunch to thank me for the help. We subsequently became good friends and good professional colleagues.
In contrast, in 2009, I received another request for help from a stranger:

Subject: Can you help me to find a job?
Body:
My resume is attached.

Here’s the rest of the correspondence between me and the person who sent the second email above.
My response:

I see from your resume that you’re a QA engineer. I actually help a lot of local QA engineers and others to find jobs, but I might suggest that an email with the entire content “Can you help me to find a job? My resume is attached” is not a great introduction to a stranger who might be in a position to help you.

The inquirer’s response:

Stan:
I am sorry, that I have not given an introduction.
My name is [redacted], have MS in Mathematics and Diploma in Computer Science I have 6 years of QA experience from Dell and Borland. I also have CSTP certification from IIST.
My resume is attached for your ready reference. Can you please help me to find a job? I appericiate your great help. I found your email and resume when I googled under SQA.
I look forward to hear back from you soon.

A little better, but not much. Me:

Here’s the best help I can give you at this point…
When networking, especially with strangers, you need to do your homework, and to use the info that you uncover to try to make as personal a contact as possible. You’re selling yourself, and in the process showing the other person that you’re thorough, thoughtful, etc.
Your first email to me, and your second one, to a large extent, was like someone coming to my door and just saying, “Hi, I’m selling X. Do you want some?” I’ll just shut the door in that person’s face. That’s why those f***ing door-to-door magazine subscription scammer kids give you some story about how they’ll win a scholarship or some such shit if they sell enough subscriptions; they don’t just come to the door and ask if you want a subscription.
If I were you, I would have written something like this:

Hi Stan,
I see that you have an extensive history of QA in Austin and that you’ve recently worked at Borland. I also noticed from your resume that you have just taken a new job. How was the job hunt? What do you think about the local job market for QA?
My name is X and I am also a QA engineer here in Austin, and in fact, I also once worked for Borland. I am also looking for a new job, and I was wondering if you could offer any advice? [Then, invent some specific question that I might have some insight on, such as] In particular, I was wondering what automated testing tools are in greatest demand right now?
I’d appreciate any insight you can share into the job search in Austin. Please feel free to email me back or call me at xxx.
Regards, X

Good luck on your job hunt. If I can provide any other specific help, let me know.