Thursday, August 28, 2014

Work for free when you could get paid

As I've decided to leave the current employer that I work with to become a consultant again, there's been some talk around the office on how to find someone to replace me.

It's great to hear that the work I've done has been appreciated and that the vast numbers of fixed issues over the 2,5 years as well as the changes in how our teams work are appreciated. I've enjoyed my time here with all the puzzles and challenges, some of which I've blogged about. When I joined, I could build practices as I saw fit, and I saw things from agile development, exploratory testing and automated checking perspective. There was also the experience that all things "testing" are not the same in value: getting a developer to test (calling him tester) resulted as no improvement on product quality and throw-away test automation.

When I was recruited, I found this job by a lucky accident. My employer did not know of the right places to look for good candidates. We still haven't posted an ad for the position, but as I would like to help out, I've mentioned the job in passing at Finnish Association for Software Testing LinkedIn group and had three candidate contacts. We're requiring fluent Finnish, which already rules out two out of three.

As it seems my supervisor has not made much progress on posting the adds, I started looking into other routes to find him candidates. As the job isn't really something you need to be the best in testing in Finland for (modesty in my skills is not one of my traits...), it could also be a great opportunity for someone new with the right attitude for testing.  So I suggested to consider a recruiting program TestPro.

The idea with TestPro is that there's a 7 month period of training and practice with the recruiting companies, after which the companies decide on recruiting the candidate. There's 22 days of classroom training and full days of working at the recruiting company, and during which the candidate is unemployed and gets some social benefits, but isn't officially working as in getting paid for the work. This program is targeted for the unemployed or people under the threat of becoming unemployed, as in case you really are out of options it's a great opportunity to get into testing.

Some hours after suggesting this route to my supervisor, it hit me: I just made an awful mistake. I have two reasons to think I made a mistake:
  1. There's a PAID job open right now, and I just postponed that for whoever would get recruited by seven months of slave labor. I should know how to do better.
  2. The training the candidate receives is near to worthless from our perspective. It shows aptitude, interest and commitment (7 months of free work...) that you go into it, but the contents you will receive are not ones I would find valuable for the person to recruit. Unless the person is just right, the likelihood of ISTQB Foundation and ISTQB Agile Certificate courses to make them worse is high and they'd be better off in this job without them. The added focus on test automation attracts developers with no clue on how to perform testing with valuable results. 
There's still time to fix the mistake I'm making, I hope. Unless the temptation of "free labor" already turned some managers to the dark side. But I need to find the candidates that want to learn  by doing, take BBST and RST classes during the work hours and become a great tester within the context-driven ideas. I have little time to go look for candidates, but perhaps this blog post encourages the right one to get in touch. Even with the Finnish language skill required.

TestPro ( might be great, if you look for testers with the stuff they are training. I'm just not convinced they teach very much of the relevant stuff. Not only because I created the first TestPro contents years ago, but also because just few years back I was not welcomed when critiquing TestPro contents on agile testing that had very little resemblance to stuff that agile testing is in my experience. As I was told, I should not have had access to the course material that was shown to me because there was an NDA on not giving the material to non-participants.