I don’t know you, but if you are in software testing for a period of time and long enough to suffer the stagnation. It’s not that you are not doing your good job as a tester. It’s a feeling that you don’t feel the motivation to do the job better, to bring yourself to the next level or you simply don’t want to try anything new.
It’s kind of getting lost.
Needless to say, being stagnant sucks. The longer you get into stagnation, the harder you can get out of it and the worse your software testing career becomes.
In this post today, I would like to share with you 5 reasons why your testing career becomes stagnant and how to fix it to advance your career path. Alright, let’s go!
“Am I suffering stagnation?”
Not all people realize that they are facing stagnation. However, it’s really important to identify it and fix it. Here are some signs of stagnation:
1) You get bored at work
You wake up every morning and don’t feel the motivation to go to work. You go to the office, make some coffee, wear headphone and start doing the same assigned task again and again day by day.
The interesting thing is that you can always complete the assigned tasks on time and no one complains about your work. But you know this: You are tired of this task, the task you used to be very excited to do before.
2) You can’t remember when the last time you got a raise?
You can’t remember when your last raise is or promoted. Even though you still complete your assigned tasks and are consistent in the quality, you are not promoted to a higher position or get a raise.
Of course, there are tons of reasons why someone does not get a raise. However, one of the obvious reasons is that your manager does not see the reason why he needs to promote you. He simply does not see your skills improved, your motivation to improve or advance your career.
If you are having such symptoms, it’s very likely you are suffering stagnation in your career. Now, let’s get into the main point:
5 reasons why your testing career becomes stagnant and how to fix it
1) Software testing is not for you
Sorry to say this, but sometimes software testing is not for you.
There’s a common misconception that software testing is easy and everyone can do it. However, when you experience it, you don’t find testing like you imagine and you eventually have to do it day by day with no interest in it.
It’s probably that a specific type of testing you are doing is not for you or more importantly software testing does not fit for you.
How to fix this?
It’s bad when you chose the wrong career path, but it’s not end of the world.
So, step back and reconsider your testing career paths to see if software testing is the right job for you, this type of testing is right for you, what you would like to achieve in life or simply what type of work makes you happy. By answering those questions, you will have better ideas what you should do in your career.
Like someone has said: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life
2) You’re in a comfort zone
You may have heard about “comfort zone” things before. People talk about it all the time. However, people often see the comfort zone as a bad thing. A comfort zone is not necessarily a bad thing. Here’s the definition of comfort zone:
Heck, who on earth does not want to feel safe and without stress? We all want that.
However, according to LifeHacker “Back in 1908, psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson explained that a state of relative comfort created a steady level of performance In order to maximize performance, however, we need a state of relative anxiety—a space where our stress levels are slightly higher than normal”
In other words, if you are doing your job without any challenges or worrying to make it perfect, you are in a “bad” comfort zone.
There are many reasons why you are in this comfort zone:
You may be in software testing for a long time (10 years or more) and you are very good at what you are doing. You are treated well by your company and you feel comfortable right now. As a result, you’re very reluctant to challenge yourself to do something new or bring your job to the next level.
..and it’s not good at all for your career path
How to fix this?
- First, you need to be aware that you are in comfort zone and you need to change. Knowing your problem is halfway to resolve it.
- Challenge yourself to do things differently. If you have been following a same way to do things, try to do it differently so that you can still complete the assigned tasks with less time and more productive.
- Upgrade yourself by learning a new skill that you know that it will create the difference in your position or can open more opportunities for you. For example, if you have been doing manual testing for years, you may want to learn programming and automation. You can also consider taking a software testing certification to add it into your toolbox.
- Go the extra mile: You can do this by asking your manager to see what else you can do to help project better. I know it means that more work for you, but it’s worth it. You can also volunteer to do the tasks that other team members are reluctant to do. Take the lead and give you some more pressure on your job.
- Change environment: In many cases, changing environment is the best way to fix your stagnation at work. New environment, tasks, colleagues, domains will surely keep you busy and motivated. However, before you change the job, you need to make sure what your goal is and what new skills you will learn in this new environment.
3) You don’t know where to go in your career path
In contradiction to comfort zone above, the “don’t know where to go” occurs to those who are new in software testing. You have the motivation to do the better job and ready to challenge yourself but you sometimes don’t know where to go in your career paths.
- What should I do first?
- Is this good for me?
- Where should I get started?
These are common concerns for beginner testers.
…and I hear you. I was there and did that.
It’s very easy to get overwhelmed when you get started in your testing career. You feel like there are ton of things need to learn and that is paralyzing you. As a result, you get stagnant.
How to fix this?
If you are suffering analysis-paralysis, stop analyzing. Stop worrying or researching too much. Just pick up a direction and stick with it until you achieve what you want.
Start small, finish it and then move next. Don’t try to be all over the place and you got nowhere.
4) You’re procrastinating things
You realize you are in comfort zone and you need to change. You know what you are doing, what your career path looks like and what you should do next…and you have your plan in place to support that.
…but here’s the problem: your current plan is the same as last year.
It means that you do a planning but you’re procrastinating to do things…and that really sucks.
Trust me, there are more procrastinators out there than you can imagine (me included :D).
Tim Urban gave an interesting talk about procrastination. If you are a procrastinator, go ahead and watch it. It’s super fun and helpful.
How to fix this?
To be honest, I’m myself still struggling to deal with it and I’m not sure how to tell you. Basically, you need to identify what:
- Set a deadline for everything you do.
- Break vague planning into small, clear and manageable tasks
- Identify what your “Instant Gratification Monkey” is and don’t let him take the wheel
5) You are lazy
Or maybe you are not lazy, you are just too busy with other things with higher priorities:
- Your family
- Your friends
- Your hobbies
- Your health
- Your “social” things such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.
You name it.
I’m not saying that those are not important in our lives, I’m just saying that once you put those as your priorities and spend most of your time there, how you could find time and energy to do your best job in your career path and your job becomes stagnant.
How to fix this?
Track where your time goes in which activities. If you are spending too much time on things that do not help you advance your career, you need to stop doing that.
Read “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and see how this will change your life.
I have just shared with you 5 reasons why you are stagnant at work and how to fix this. We, in general suffer this sooner or later or at some point of time in our career. Being stagnant is very harmful, but it’s not something that you can’t fix. When you step into software testing, you don’t want to be just another tester, you want to be the best tester that every team would love to have in the team.
Thanh is creator of AskTester. Thanh loves helping new testers do better testing.