Career Advancement Q&A

During our Testing Voices community event on 29th June, we welcomed Raj Subrameyer for an Ask Me Anything session on Career Advancement in the New Normal. We had so many questions and thank you to everyone who joined us. Unfortunately we ran out of time but Raj has kindly answered all remaining questions in the blog below.

You can watch Raj’s talk back – all you have to do is log in to view. If you are not yet a member of EuroSTAR Huddle, simply join to access all talks and eBooks – there are no membership fees!

 

Q. How do you create an opportunity for yourself to advance your career within a company, when opportunities don’t offer themselves?

Here are some things you want to do:

Start something that will add value
Research gaps in you project and team. See if you could start an initiative to address the gaps/issues. You can also gather like minded people to help you with that.

Be visible
Your boss does your performance review, but everyone around you gives feedback to your boss as well. This is especially true if you have a peer-to-peer feedback system, where everyone gives feedback about everyone else. So, it is important to keep your whole team posted on your accomplishments, so that they know you are contributing to the team and making a positive impact.

Some ways to do this:

  • When you do something that helps another person significantly, try to have it documented.
    o If the person emails you their appreciation, save those appreciation emails in a separate folder for future reference.
    o If you do not receive an email from them, send an email saying you are glad that the solution you tried help them out, and they will reply acknowledging your effort.
    o You can also ask the person to send an email about your achievement with your boss cc’ed or ask them to document your accomplishment in some place which is publicly visible.
  • In your daily team meetings (like stand-ups), ensure you mention the things you did that helped the team. This helps to build credibility and trust, and your colleagues will start paying attention to your efforts.
  • Before your one-on-one’s with your boss, document all the things you have accomplished in the past couple of weeks and send that as part of the agenda item to discuss. This not only helps to go over your accomplishments with your boss but also helps as a reference point during performance reviews.

Things that are not documented are never recognized as being done. This is a fact when you work in the corporate world.

Help others
Apart from documenting your accomplishments and making others know how you are impacting the team, you naturally should be helping your colleagues. This is especially true when they are struggling with something and you have the skill set, time, and resources to help them out.

Befriend your boss
It is really important to stay on the good side of your boss because at the end of the year he/she is going to help you get a salary increase or the promotion you always wanted as a reward for your hard work. One way to do this is to get to know your boss on a personal level. During your one-on-one conversations, apart from just talking business, ask how their family is doing or share the news of any great event that happened in your life to open up the channel for more personalized conversations. Periodically, make it a point to ask them how they are doing because after all, they are human beings as well, and we need to recognize that.

Do the Tasks No One Else Wants to Do
When trying to be successful at your new job, you should be willing to do the tasks that no one else wants to do. You can get name recognition by doing this since people remember it. Many times, these are the tasks that make a big impact on teams, and your work could live on forever.

Q. How do I specialize and how to pick the best specialism?

Do the Mind Dump exercise where you write down things you are good at/love and things you hate. Identify patterns from the list to figure out your strengths. Based on that identify different job positions that map to your strengths. Then, pick the top 3 positions and focus on that. You can download the Mind Dump template from my site.

Q. How do I achieve being called an expert in testing?

“Expert” is a very subjective term. No one can be an expert in testing. But they can be an expert in some aspects of testing. So first figure out what you are passionate about in testing(The mind dump exercise will help – https://mailchi.mp/rajsubra/minddump-download). Then take all the courses, mentorship and responsibilities that will help you become best at that particular thing you are passionate about.

Q. What if you don’t know what you want to become next?

It is ok to not know your next ideal job. Because truth to be told such a thing does not exist. So, what I would suggest is instead of stressing out over what you want to become next, do the mind dump exercise, figure out your strengths and start with a job that aligns with the strengths. While doing so, you will discover other opportunities that will take you to the next level.

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Q. With re-tooling what would you say is the best College certs, certificate courses or personal projects, or all of the above?

I would say all the above. Focus on everything you can do in your area of interest. Build your portfolio and brand based on that.

Q. How can you change career without a financial hit?

Hold on to your existing job and in parallel start applying for new jobs. Set up some time each day to apply for jobs while holding your existing job. Once you get the new job then leave your existing job.

Q. What made you choose the transformation from Tech / Dev jobs to Writer or Speaker?

I was always open to new opportunities. I love to try anything at least once. I tried speaking at meet up groups and writing blog posts. I fell in love with it. Then started looking for opportunities to get better at it so ended up transitioning into a Manager, Developer Evangelist and now running my own business which gave me the space to focus on them. My advice would be to start small and try something new. If you don’t like it you can always stop doing it and move on to the next one.

Q. I am managing my own startup companies, and I don’t know what’s the next step for me.

This question seems to be too broad for me to give a concise reply. But, I am going to assume that you are already well established, managing start up companies and looking for newer opportunities in life to make an impact. If that is the case here are some things I think you could do:

  • Become a board member of a non-profit and help them
  • Start volunteering your time for free to help people who want to start a new business
  • Become an investor in other companies and advice them
  • Start donating time and money for charity if you have both to give
  • Start writing a book on your experience managing start ups or blog about them
  • Try to see what other innovative things you can do within your current start up companies that could impact people in a huge way

And the list goes on… 🙂

Questions that Raj answered during his talk.

Watch Raj’s talk to hear the answers to to these questions.

  • Apart from LinkedIn what else should you do to enhance your personal brand?
  • Is it better to have a broad-skill personal brand or narrow specific skill?
  • I have spent 8 years as a tester, but I don’t know if this is what I like How do I know my passion or understand my strengths?
  • What is your perspective to job crafting – turning the job you have into the job you want? Is this more about finding the job that works or about creating the job that works?
  • Can I shift my career into automation and testing after working in education industry for 17 years?

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About the Author

Suzanne Meade

I’m part of the EuroSTAR Community Team. I love the outdoors and will always be up for swimming in the sea, climbing a mountain or yoga on the beach! If you see me at the EuroSTAR Software Testing & Quality Conference, I might be helping our keynote speakers or taking photos to share on social media. Do say hi and we can talk sci-fi or baking .. the choice is yours!
Find out more about @suzanne

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