Taking control and adding value.

Happy new year!

This is my first post of 2016, and as the new year is a good time to reflect on career aspirations, and deciding what should be different this year, that is the theme!

I don’t know why we wait until a specific time in the calendar to do things like re-assessing ourselves, and coming up with resolutions, but that’s what we do, so I will use this opportunity.

So, as you read this, you’ve been back at work for a few days after the break, and you feel one of three things: 1) you love your job (great!) and are feeling very happy, 2) you like your job but are not feeling very satisfied, 3) you don’t like your job and are thinking of moving on. Well, however you feel about your job, I believe it’s a great time to reflect on your career, where you are at the moment, what you want to achieve this year, define your goals and think about the conversations you want to be having in December 2016 as you look back over the year at what you have achieved.

Goals may be technical, i.e. wanting to learn a language to do more coding, learning security testing etc or role based i.e. moving up to the next role, or across to a new discipline (moving to a BA Developer role), but it doesn’t really matter what they are – just having goals is a step forward. Taking control of your career is vital – no-one else will do it for you!

But don’t forget that your goals need to align with your organisations goals. The most important thing it to be adding value. It is important from a company perspective of course, but as human beings, we all need to feel as though what we spend 7 or 8 hours doing every day has some value. So, you may be a tester, doing a great job, and suddenly you decide to learn PHP. Ok, it sounds good, but if no-one in the team is using it, and there are no plans to move ahead with it, the time you spend will not add value to the team. Of course, if your goal is to be a teacher, and you are a tester, you are in the wrong job anyway, but that’s an extreme example.

As testers (and I know I have said this before – see my article in November’s Tester Magazine http://issuu.com/31media/docs/test_magazine_november-2015-web) we should be adding value to our teams. Think about the makeup of your team, and see where the gaps are. Does everyone on the team consider the end user, or are they focussed on the technical story. Is the focus more on coding the automated tests rather than on defining a good set of scenarios? Are non-functional tests overlooked? If so, it may be due to a skills gap – a gap that YOU could plug.

So, as we start the year, think about your goals, where you can make yourself a better and more valuable member of your team, and what direction you want to go in. I know that’s what I’m going to be doing!

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