You may be a good software tester, but do you have what it takes to be a great software tester? In my experience, there is a common thread that separates the good from the great: Soft Skills. What exactly is meant by soft skills? These are the characters and traits that help you collaborate more effectively in your workplace with others – the intangibles that make it easy to work with you. Those who possess these traits not only become the best software testers, but also grow rapidly in their careers to become better team members and team leaders.
More importantly, Soft Skills are something that can be developed over time. With a commitment to growth and continuous learning, everyone can develop these skills.
In my opinion, the top 10 soft skills a good software tester should have are the following:
This is by far the most important soft skill. Teams are composed of many different employees and today they often work remotely. More than ever, the need to read, write and speak clearly is essential to project success.
Communication is always a two-way process: listening is as important as speaking. You must not only advise others, but also learn to listen to the perspectives of others.
Learn how to compartmentalize your thoughts logically. Be open and willing to speak up when needed, and in a way that different stakeholders (technical and non-technical) can understand. For many, this is a natural gift, but anyone can develop this skill by reading books and blogs and observing how experts communicate their ideas.
A great software tester is organized. By being organized, you can be proactive, and by being proactive, you can get results. The ability to look at the scope of a project and organize your activities and prioritize yourself will help you reach the end goal. It is one of the most valuable but also one of the most contagious. A tester who tracks their work effectively will motivate others to do the same.
Problem-solving skills are the ability to identify problems, brainstorm, analyze in order to respond to the various stakeholders and ensure that the best solutions can be implemented. Identifying and naming the “gray areas” leads to better end results. When you are developing or working on new features and functionalities, there is always a gray area of “is this feature necessary” or “does this meet the requested requirement?” A tester should see himself as a trained end user, with understanding/knowledge of an end user with the goal of verifying that the product meets the end user’s requirements.
Just Pass/Fail is not always so simple, but knowing the intent and being able to communicate obstacles, possible solutions and options that meet the end user’s needs is the key to success.
A great software tester can step into the shoes of an end user and has the ability to see the product from the consumer’s point of view. They know how the consumer will use the product and know what is expected of the product.
They also understand the product developer’s overall business strategy. Good software testers always ask “why?” and “what?” Why are these features being introduced? Why is it designed in a certain way? What problem is this product trying to solve? What is the business’s purpose for using the proposed solution.
Agility is the ability to think and understand quickly. Because the business is constantly changing, a good software tester must be able to adapt to the environment around him or her. During projects, new requirements may suddenly emerge, original requirements may change, a timeline may be altered, a fix in a test requires a new round of testing in a previously closed case. In the team, colleagues are added or replaced, so flexibility is expected of the tester; clients also come and go. Agility is basically the ability to change your plan of action according to changing circumstances.
A great software tester must be able to process input from multiple team members in order to come up with the best solutions that not only meet the customer’s needs, but also achieve consensus within the team.
When participating in meetings, it is crucial that you go into a meeting with clear goals to be achieved. Before the end of a meeting, make sure the team knows what the next steps are now on testing and that there is clarity on how results will be communicated and who will be responsible for what.
When testing, it is very easy to go on the negative tour as a person. You discover a bug and it requires a fix and additional testing. Worse, the project can change completely on that basis. This can easily turn even the most positive attitude into a bad one. A great software tester approaches it from a positive point of view and says, “It’s lucky we noticed that problem now, the final product will be much better.”
Technology is constantly changing – that’s what keeps this job exciting! But that means a good tester must be determined to never stop learning. It doesn’t stop with your degree. New tools, new implementation strategies, new testing methods and products, new programming languages, there is always something new. It’s easy to get yourself named an expert in what you know now, but you have to keep up with trends and stay ahead of them. You will never know everything, but still try to learn as much as you can. This will definitely benefit in your further Skills development as a tester.
Learn how to proactively look at projects with insights from your previous projects. What lessons have you learned and from that experience what lessons can help you discover possible areas of concern in a new project? Build an arsenal of insights as the project progresses.
A good software tester should be able to communicate those lessons. When a new project starts, a great software tester must be able to recognize potential obstacles and know how to share them with his team members to avoid problems in the future.
You can only grow if you continuously learn new things about the latest tools and trends in the testing industry.
You are a great tester, but you need to be able to bring your team to the same level so you can achieve your goal. A good tester is not content to improve only themselves, they want to help other testers and grow as their career progresses. Take time to explain what you have learned over the years. If someone on your team can benefit from your mistakes, share them.
Although this list seems overwhelming, developing one of these skills usually overlaps with another. If you pledge for yourself in the coming year to develop one or two at a time, I am sure that by the end of the year you will be able to achieve your goals and boost your professional growth.