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What to put on your QA resume (according to 9 experts)

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As a QA engineer, you have an eye for detail. You’re good at uncovering and fixing bugs. And not just glaring errors, but ones that are invisible to others.

So how do you make sure your resume is equally as flawless? We talked to nine QA experts to find out. Here’s what they told us should be on your QA resume, from the most in-demand skills (and the best ways to highlight them) to your top accomplishments and projects. Plus, what you should consider sending instead of a traditional cover letter to stand out from the rest.

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Table of contents

The tech skills employers actually want

Adding every technology you’ve ever worked with to your QA resume will only scare recruiters away. So according to Miguel Corona, QA Engineer at Indeed, it’s important to pick and choose the right ones to match the job description. “I always cater a resume to the job I’m applying for,” he says, “so the skills I include would be ones I have demonstrated that match up with the job req I’m looking for.” 

It’s also a good idea to highlight the QA skills employers want most. We analyzed QA job postings on the Seen platform to find out what those skills are:

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Industry standard tools (Selenium, Jenkins, Cucumber), programming languages (Java, Python, C#) and project management structures (Agile) top the list. If you know them, other skills to consider adding to your resume include API testing and security testing.

As Kristin Jackvony, author of Think Like a Tester, puts it “Most companies are now using APIs to pass information between applications, so API testing is highly valued. I also look for some security testing experience, since application security is critical.”

Manual testing, which involves playing the role of end user, inventing test cases and exploring apps and features to find bugs is another key skill to mention. Kate Falanga, Associate Director of Quality Assurance at Code and Theory, explains:

“A candidate might be fluent in 8 programming languages and 15 automation frameworks, but if they don’t know what is important to test then they aren’t as useful as someone who does. If you list out your ‘manual’ testing skills then I will have a lot more confidence in your automation skills.”

A manual testing skill employers love to see? Chrome DevTools, according to Morgan Pinales, Senior QA Engineer at Seen by Indeed. “Being able to use the network, console and performance tabs to debug can be a huge time-saver and helps to point to the underlying cause of a problem,” she says. 

One final way to stand out from the competition is to add your project management software skills. Take it from Daniel Thomas, QA Engineer at Indeed: “From the perspective of a hiring manager, even knowing that a prospective QA engineer has experience with the project management software my team uses (ex: Jira) would be a huge plus when considering ramp-up time.”

Be 100% honest. Only list the skills you feel confident answering questions about. “I have seen applicants mention their ‘strong SQL skills’ who can’t write a simple JOIN command,” says Jackvony. “Whatever an applicant claims they can do, they should be able to demonstrate in an interview.”

The soft skills you need to be successful 

Hard data tells us that soft skills do matter. Some will be explicitly stated in your skills section, but most will be implied by how you describe your projects and accomplishments and the way you create your resume (formatting, consistency, spelling, etc.).

So what are the most important soft skills to show off? We asked a few QA experts for their takes.

“One of the beautiful things about QA at Indeed is that we are truly looking for specific skills or behavioral traits, and these can be demonstrated without extensive technical skill,” says Danielle Smith, Manager, QA Engineering at Indeed. “We want QAs that are organized, strong communicators, curious and detail-oriented in their approach.”

“It depends on whether it’s a manual testing role or test automation. It also depends on the level (junior, regular, senior, etc.), but maybe the most important are critical thinking, collaboration, communication and enthusiasm for learning,” says Anton Angelov, CTO and Co-founder of Automate the Planet

“Soft skills such as leadership, collaboration or organization can give a hiring manager more insight into who you are and what you can bring to an organization,” explains Falanga. “If you are at the beginning stages of your career, this can help show that an organization can invest in you for the long term. If you are seeking more senior roles, these are the types of skills that can set you apart from other candidates.”

Since collaboration, communication, attention to detail and creativity frequently topped our experts’ lists, let’s dive deeper into the best ways to highlight them in your QA resume.

Collaboration and communication

One QA expert, Mark Bishop, Director of Assurance and Testing at AccessHQ, says effective communication is by far the most important skills to demonstrate in a quality assurance resume (and the one that impresses him the most). After all, a big part of QA engineer’s job is to point out defects in other teams’ work. That requires effective collaboration skills to communicate bugs without causing conflicts. 

“Testers aren’t just testers,” explains Dan Ashby, co-founder of the Software Testing Clinic. “They work embedded in a team, on a project, that’s involved with building a product, that’s part of a platform, and they work in an office, that’s part of a wider organization. And of course, there’s the external communities too. So there’s lots of different skills involved in all of these other aspects of the role.”

In your work experience section, talk about the times you’ve worked closely with a variety of different teams, from software engineers and UX designers to product managers and customer service.

Attention to detail

Quality assurance is all about attention to detail, from working through 200-item checklists one line at a time and ensuring each requirement is met to noticing that something is unexpectedly different in your app today than it was yesterday. But how can you show off this key skill in your QA resume?

Pinales explains:

“I would definitely look for attention to detail on a candidate’s resume, but not necessarily as a listed skill. I would use the resume itself as an example of the candidate’s attention to detail—i.e., is the candidate’s experience listed in a consistent format throughout the document (e.g., company names shown in bold, dates formatted the same way, role listed in italics, etc.)? Does the resume contain any obvious typos?”

The details matter. And as Jackvony says, “If the applicant can’t organize their own work history well, I doubt they will organize their test plans well.”

Creativity

QA engineers test the functionality of a given feature to make sure it’s working. “But almost anyone can do that,” Pinales points out. “The real value a good QA provides in the testing process is in the edge cases—thinking of all the unintended ways someone might use an app or feature that could cause it to break.” 

That’s where creativity comes in. Show off your ability to see beyond the obvious by explaining how you’ve conducted exploratory testing in your past roles. Did you think outside the box to stress test an e-commerce website before a major event like Cyber Monday? Or come up with test cases to uncover design flaws by thinking like an end user?

Your top accomplishments (with #, % and $)

Just as you tailor your skills to the job description, tailor your work experience. “If a candidate is applying for an exploratory testing role,” says Ashby, “but their resume is all about automation and scripted testing, it won’t fit.”

With that in mind, focus on your proudest accomplishments and quantify the results.“In describing their work, I encourage people to follow a why/how/what structure—why were they involved, how did they contribute, what did they achieve?” recommends Bishop. For example:

  • Identified, replicated and resolved 200 errors during the development process, improving mobile site load times by 25%.
  • Collaborated with product managers and customer service team to address software issues, resulting in a 90% customer satisfaction rating.
  • Designed an automated test framework with Python/Selenium to speed up code deploys from twice per month to weekly.

Struggling to come up with #, % and $ to quantify your achievements? Include details about the scope of your testing. “What kind of applications are they working in? Are there certains tools or processes they’ve mastered to execute their tests? Were they responsible for major software or feature testing? Do they mention what they used to organize that effort?” says Smith.

“I’d look for clues as to how damaging a testing oversight or mistake may have been in their past roles, and therefore how thorough the applicant had to be in their day-to-day performance,” says Thomas. “These clues may be things like the size and scope of their user pool, the nature of their stakeholders, how business-critical were the features they tested, the complexity of their systems, whether their products are localized and/or internationalized, etc.”

Focus on what you’ve accomplished: “Add details about your role and the specific tasks you have done—not the team as a whole,” says Angelov.

Needle-moving QA projects

It’s important to include projects that have hard metrics to back up the project’s success. “Familiarity with OKRs would also be a great indicator that the QA Engineer sees him or herself as integral to the success of the business as a whole,” Thomas told us. And according to Corona, it’s also a good idea to pick projects that line up with the requirements listed on the job description to prove your skills.

Even if you can’t share the names or details about your projects, (due to NDAs, for example), there are still ways to add projects to your resume. “Talk about your role on the project,” suggests Falanga. “Details on how you added value on a project can be more important to a hiring manager than a catchy brand name.”

Beyond impressive projects, show your involvement in external communities (e.g., public speaking, blogging, Meetup groups) to demonstrate your passion for the industry. 

Cover letter? Try this instead.

First, determine if you actually need a cover letter. If you determine that you do need a cover letter, consider something a little more unconventional—especially if you’re making a career transition into QA. 

For instance, instead of telling the hiring manager what she could do, Pinales showed them. When she applied for her very first QA role at Indeed, she didn’t write a cover letter. In its place, she wrote a one-page case study about a bug she found on the Indeed website, including details of how she found the bug, the bug’s user impact and the changes that needed to be made to fix it. 

“This case study must have shown enough ‘proof of ability’ to interest the hiring manager, as it got me an interview (and the rest is history…),” she says. 

When it comes to your QA resume, do sweat the details

Overall, recruiters and hiring managers are typically looking for three main things in a QA engineer resume:

  1. The right skills and experience (plus strong attention to detail)
  2. Fluency in talking about testing and its value
  3. The impact you’ve made to teams, products, users and the business

And as long as you tailor your resume to match the job description, highlight the right skills (both hard and soft) and add #, $ and % to your work experience and projects sections, your resume will pass all the tests.

The post What to put on your QA resume (according to 9 experts) appeared first on Seen by Indeed.

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