Mastering a difficult job search after a career break

Heather Reid shares her difficult job search journey and how she overcame self-doubt and kept trying until she found the perfect job. Although Heather had been active in the testing community for over a decade when she was searching for her newest role, she heard ‌she wasn’t a tester and that she had been gone too long gone.


We also talk about:

  • bad interview experiences
  • why she was seen as "too long gone" in testing
  • how to handle job rejections
  • how she proved everyone that rejected her during job interviews wrong
  • advice for job seekers and people interviewing in tech.
Earn additional income by sharing your opinion on userinterviews.com!
Picture of Ashley Hunsberger
About Heather Reid
Heather Reid is a Test Engineer at Glofox. Before that she was the community boss for Ministry of Testing, making sure that the testing community had everything to be successful. Before that, she was a software tester at Exploristics and at Moola.



Episode Chapters:
00:00 Introduction
02:00 What does a test community boss do?
06:28 Can we forget our skills?
08:00 Attending workshops
09:00 4-hour interview experience
10:00 Hurtful rejections pile up
12:10 Can't ask questions in an interview
14:00 A good interview experience
19:00 A technical test
23:00 Different backgrounds and perspectives
26:10 Arguing during an interview
30:50 Improving the state of testing 33:50 Adding accessibility 40:00 Career advice for job seekers




Read the whole episode (Transcript)

[Improve this transcript on Github.]

[00:00:00] Michaela: Hello and welcome to the Software Engineering Unlocked Podcast. I'm your host, Dr. McKayla, and today I have the pleasure to talk to Heather Reid, a test engineer about her latest job search.

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But now back to Heather. Heather is a test engineer at Glofox.

Before that, she was the community boss for Ministry of Testing, making sure that the testing community had everything to be striving. Before that, she was a software tester at Exploristics. And at Moola, although Heather had been active in the testing community for over a decade, when she was searching for a new role, she heard she wasn't the tester and that she has been gone too long.

I want to talk with her about her latest job search. So Heather, welcome to the show.

[00:01:13] Heather: Thank you so much for having me.

[00:01:16] Michaela: Yeah, so we met like Matt online, Matt, when I was actually applying for giving a talk ministry of testing. I think that was the first time that we somehow got into contact was a little bit before the pandemic and then we never met because the pandemic came and we didn't

[00:01:33] Heather: go there, like to the Ministry of Testing thing.

Right,

[00:01:36] Michaela: The test batch. So yeah, but I'm really happy that to have you here. . And so, well, because of that, I'm following you on Twitter and I'm reading, you know, a little bit what you're writing and I saw you write this blog post about your, like, like this latest chop search that at one point you were very convinced that it's true.

I have been out of the testing game, . Yes. And, and it's really hard to get a job now. So how, how did that come?

[00:02:00] Heather: Um, So yeah, I suppose why I started searching for a job was I, I started with ministry of testing to, to work on our community platform, the club. And I started writing code for that and I realized, Oh, I miss this so much and like testing my changes and everyth.

And I started, I started to think then that maybe, maybe I, I wanted to get back into a role where I was doing much more testing every day than I was getting. The chance to with ministry of Testing because there, there was so much to do. It was, it was a really exciting job. There was, there was so much that you, that you could do in it.

But I wanted, I wanted to pivot more back to, to the testing side of things. So I started to apply to different companies. Some people rejected me as soon as they saw my cv, but just they saw ministry of testing, community boss. All right. Well, you haven't been a tester for, for five years, so No. A couple of other companies.

Then I went through the interview process with them and had, So can we, can we

[00:03:18] Michaela: tell maybe a little bit what a Community Boss does because Yeah, I know it, you know it, but maybe you know, my listeners don't know. So they said you have been a community boss at Ministry of Testing for five years.

Ministry of Testing is one of the largest. Testing. Communities. Right. Maybe. I dunno. And and so you had a community boss there. What were your responsibilities? What did you do all day as a community boss that you are so out of testing and you know, far away from

[00:03:44] Heather: the industry? Yeah, that's a, it's a, that's a good point actually, cuz one of my previous roles was a, a mathematical planner, which was the job title for.

For a software developer. Cause I just seem to, I, I seem to live in vague job title land a lot of the time. . So yeah, the community boss I was involved in organizing the conferences that we ran around the world each year. So we used run seven conferences around the globe each year. I also helped out with our social media platforms, making sure that things were getting shared both our content and content from people in the community.

I, so as part of the, the organizing of the events, I used to listen to podcasts, watch people's YouTube channels, read their blogs to. To get a good, a good feel for people in the community. So looking for people who could give a talk, maybe online, not quite at the conference as part of the conferences, then I would.

I would make a point of reviewing every single abstract that we received for a conference to give people feedback. Now that might sound like, well, obviously you should do that, but for some of the events, we were getting four or 500 abstracts submitted for them, and we had a maximum of 10 places. So, wow.

The, the ratio of, of submissions to acceptances. , it was never going to be huge. But at because of that I wanted to make sure that everyone who submitted received feedback from us as to why, how they could make it better. How, how to push themselves into the top 20 shortlist for future, for example, up. What, what else did I do?

Oh, yeah. I did, I moderated online communities, so a lot of that as well is in the background. So a lot of what the community boss did was kind of in the shadows. , mm-hmm. . So I was keeping an eye on our Slack channels, our, our other discussion forums. If we had an online event. I was watching the chat stream.

making sure that people were adhering to our code of conduct. Mm-hmm. . And if they weren't, then again, taking action behind the scenes for that. Okay. So yeah, a lot. Yeah. .

[00:06:14] Michaela: Yeah, a lot. A lot. And I definitely didn't hear that you were testing, so probably Right, right. So you're not actively testing. But on the other hand, what comes to my mind is like softer testing, I would.

Almost like riding a bicycle. I don't know. Like I would say it's like that, Like if you know how to test software, it's really hard to forget. I don't know, maybe you can't forget. Maybe you forget it. In five years, did you forget how to test software in five

[00:06:39] Heather: years? Definitely not given, given the experience I've had in the job so far.

Yeah, Right. I definitely haven't I, yeah, I think, I think to an extent, writing code is similar. Like you'll come, like if you took a break and you come back. You'll be able to start writing code. It might not be super perfect. Mm-hmm. , there be a bullet of nuances that you'll have forgotten, but you'll, you'll manage to, to use your riding a bike analogy, you'll manage to get up on the bike and, and pedal for a little bit, but your balance might be off, but you'll keep practicing and practicing and, and you'll, you'll get.

[00:07:17] Michaela: Yeah. I also think that if you read, you know, abstracts of, you know, what people will give talks at the conference, if you read blog posts to be, you know, informed what the community thinks. You actually know a lot about testing. I mean, yeah, these are, this is if you would be on a testing job, well then you would do testing, but then in addition, if you would be reading those articles, you would definitely advance your career.

Right. So, yeah. How, how did you feel about it? Did you feel that you actually know quite what's going on in the testing community? Maybe even better as somebody that just tests and doesn't read any articles or sees any, you know, conference talks. I mean, you were right there with the latest

[00:07:57] Heather: and greatest, right?

Yeah. Yeah. And as part of that as well, I, I used to, at the, at the in-person conferences, I used to sit in on some of the workshops as. Maybe even take part in some of them. And that went as well when we moved to online because of the pandemic. Then we started to do 99 minute workshops, mm-hmm. on online.

So you could attend online and you could, you could learn a key skill in 99 minutes. So as, as part of the, the moderating and all that sort of stuff. I used to attend those workshops and I used to, So I there's one that sticks out in my mind of like, of, of, of GI skills, so how to mm-hmm. . So I was trying to refresh my memory and how to use gi.

So I attended one of those. There was a, an SQL workshop, an accessibility workshop. So I was attending all of these and I was doing and learning with people who were in, in the community. So while I didn. Necessarily have a product that I could practice it all on. I was, I was still trying to stay up to date with it all.

Yeah.

[00:09:13] Michaela: So you told us that there were some desk rejects, right? People just saw Ucv. Yeah. Oh, community boss. That's not the tester. So Yeah, we are not inviting her. And then some people invited you. So what happened with these interviews when they invited,

[00:09:27] Heather: Yeah. So I had a couple, So one one of the first interviews that I did where it was, I think the interview was nearly four hours long, and I came out of it and I was exhausted.

I think it was only meant to be an hour or an hour and a half, but it was this whole like, we're going to pair an ensemble. I'm gonna give you this, I'm gonna give you this exercise to do, and then we're gonna go through your. Get repositories and we're going to go through all your previous blogs. And it was, it was really intense, but I was successful.

And that was the first one. And I kind of went, Oh, maybe I can do this. And then they said, Oh, sorry, actually you're based in Ireland. Oh, we can't hire from Ireland. And I was, No. Cool. Okay. Thank you. . . So there was that, that the initial, it was like, Woo, brilliant. And then I had, I had a couple of other interviews, so one where I did, so they'd read my cv, I had a couple of half hour interviews and everything was looking really good.

They were apparently very impressed with me. and, and then I got a rejection and it was like, Oh, well, you know, based on the interviews we've had with you so far, you couldn't make an impact in the first week in your job. And we need someone who can do that. And I was kind of, I, I was really hurt when I first heard it.

I was like, Oh my God. But as I spoke to people in the community, they were like, Nobody will make an impact in their first week in a new job That. outrageous to assume, but it, the doubt starts to creep in. And then mm-hmm. interviewed with a couple of other companies and maybe did the first round and they'd said, Oh, if, why do you want to get back into testing?

I said, Well, I've, I've never left. But Okay. Well, I, I miss hands on testing and, you know, I've been practicing. Well, you know, practicing isn't the real. Oh, okay. And then there was a couple where it was just question after question after question from the interviewer, and they were asking me, Oh, what if you are in this scenario, how would you test this?

And I started asking questions for context, because as testers, that's what we do. You, we don't just get a product and start testing. You're starting to ask, Well, what do our customers want? Okay. And. For what risks have you seen? So you're starting to build a picture of mm-hmm. . Okay. Well if they've already identified these risks, but I've identified these where, where can we take this when we're testing and I got back, Well, you can't ask questions.

Sorry. No, you just have to go with this and test this. You can't ask. And each of as, as these bad interviews for want of a better phrase, build up, and they're, they start getting more and more negative. You start doubting yourself. You start thinking, I can't do this. I can't get back into testing, and I, I don't know this.

And they're, they're all right. And why should I even be trying? And it was really hard, but. Lots of people in the community were supporting me because they, they knew that I was passionate. They knew that I, that I could do this. And the, the company that I'm now with, it was, it was a, a chance encounter where I got a message asking, Oh, how are things going?

I'm, I mean, I'm interviewing for some jobs and, and Hugh, who is my manager now at Blow Fox, he said, Oh, you're, you're interviewing. And I said, Yeah, I just, I wanna get back into, into software testing. And he says, Oh, we have an open role. Would you like to apply now? He said, Because I know you, I'm gonna stay as much outta this process as possible.

I'm gonna let our other managers, whatever interview you. But I really, really think that you would be a perfect fit for our company. And I was like, Oh yeah, here we go. Another one saying, You'll be perfect because you know people from the community and they're, that's all, they're only interested in me because like it's, I could help them with connections or something, which is, which is what had happened with previous roles.

So I was entering it with a negative mindset, I suppose. Mm-hmm. . But my first interview was, One of the directors of engineering who I'd never met and, and the, the the guy who would go on to be my team lead and they. We were able to ask like really frank, honest questions to each other, and I felt so excited.

Like I, I, I genuinely asked them. Cause at this point I was like, I have nothing to lose. I've had so many bad interviews, Let's just roll with it. I said, Okay. In your opinion, what's the biggest mistake this company has ever made? And, and they said, Hmm, okay. That's a good. Well, I think one of our biggest mistakes was not having testers in, in the beginning.

We did two years without it and we've spent years paying it back. So they were, they were both pretty well aligned on that. And I said, I asked then what does a bad day in your job look like? And the director of engineering had. Well, if there is an outage that goes on for a prolonged period of time, he said, That's a bad day in my job because customers are, are gonna start losing faith in our business.

And we, we pride ourselves in very like low amounts of downtime. And the team lead said for him a bad day in his job was receiv. A notice that someone wanted to quit because he said if, if he'd had no indication before this, that that was going to happen, that then to him, it felt like he wasn't doing a good job as a team lead.

Mm-hmm. if he, if he didn't see it coming, he felt like he'd somehow let this person or the team. and I really loved that honesty. It's like, this is great. I got to ask questions and I got really honest answers back. This is fabulous. And so my total interview process, I had the first interview with the, the team lead and the director of engineering, and then I had an interview with one of the testers on the team.

And the, the test manager, and again, I got to ask like some really frank questions and the cto, and again, I, I was, I was really happy with how honest he was with the answers to the questions. There was no holding back. There was no, Oh yeah. We're a fabulous place to work. It was, you know, we're trying really.

There, there are a few places where we could improve. An example of that is this. So, you know, make your own decisions based on that, Heather, we're not going to sell you something that we're not. And I thought that was so refreshing And yeah, honestly, it's. The role so far has lived up to the expectations that those people set and more so I was definitely not sold something fake

[00:17:24] Michaela: And so it sounds very intense. So there was the, the director, there was the cto mm-hmm. The ceo and another

[00:17:32] Heather: tester, right? Or so Yeah. The, the first one was, The director of engineering and the team lead, and then there was a tester and the test team lead and then the cto and I was meant to have one with the ceo.

Mm-hmm. . But at the time that I was interviewing he was, he was trying to secure series B funding, so he sent his apologies and said, Look, everyone's so, Has sung your praises? I am. I am completely happy to, to offer you a role. And then once I started, there was I think four other people who started around the same time as me, and he arranged a meeting then with all four of us to welcome us to the company and talked through his visions and everything.

So while we didn't get the one-to-one interview, we got a very intimate setting, I suppose you'd call it with the ceo, which. You don't always get at a company which is 200 or 250 people in size. And again, That's true. Yeah. I thought that was really nice. Yeah.

[00:18:39] Michaela: And so when you had this interview, you felt that the company was very honest, but also what, what about your skills?

Did you feel that you now. Somehow are at test or did you, you know, how, how does that, because over the, the last interviews, you got this feeling that I'm maybe too far gone or, you know, Yeah. My skills are, aren't good enough or something. So how did that, how did that interview make you feel?

[00:19:04] Heather: So between the first two interviews, I got a, a technical test.

Which was when they said technical test, I panicked. It's like, I don't have the skills for this. Why are you giving me this? But the company has a really strong focus on exploratory testing. So they gave me a test product and they were really. They really hammered home time box this, We don't expect you to spend hours and weeks on this.

Mm-hmm. time Box your investigation into this and based on your investigation, write a short report of the risks you saw or the approaches you would take to testing. And at the time I had a seven month old. So I, time boxing was perfect for me because I didn't have a lot of time to spend. So I sat down at the computer and I said, Right, I'm giving myself two hours, absolute max, but I'd like to spend less than two hours.

And I wrote all this in the report I wrote, mm-hmm , time spent initially exploring the product, like seeing what it does, 15 minutes. Issues to come back to that I identified while doing this. These time spent writing or time spent writing a couple of charters or ideas to explore this. And based on that, here is my report, which I spent this long writing.

And so once I was successful, I got, I got feedback from the team lead of. The, the mobile team, which I ended up being placed in and from the test team lead that, that, that was exactly what they wanted to see. They'd seen so many people who had spent 5, 6, 7 hours weeks on this writing, like really detailed reports, and that's, that's not what they wanted.

And they had made that clear in the instructions. We we're just using this to see how you would approach testing. Mm-hmm. It's like, it's not our product , so you don't, you don't need to be putting this much time into it. And they do, they value the, the work life balance. And the team lead had said to me a after, when I was hired, he said, In all the years I am interviewing people, you are the best interview.

That I have ever done. And I was like, Nice. Really? Like I, Cause sometimes he can be quite sarcastic. Um, And I said, Oh, you're, you're joking, right? Because, you know, I'm a tester and you are a developer. He goes, No, Heather, I'm serious. Because he rounded out the, the, the interview with the question. If I gave you a budget of, I think it was something like 123 Euros and 57 pens for it was a very specific number.

And I said to you, I wanted to organize a team activity. How would you spend that money? And I said, Well, it de, it depends what you're hoping for from your team. So, Is your team very well connected? Is this a team building exercise? Do you think they need to work on their communications? If so, something like maybe an escape room could be fun.

Have they had like a super intense delivery period? If it's that, then maybe something like a group gaming session where they can just relax. Or depending on if there's just two people on your team and they've worked maybe a lot of overtime in the past while, divide that equally between them and send them a voucher to, to go and have a meal with someone to get a break.

Yeah. And he was, he said, You know, this is the amount of people who just turn around and go, I'd buy pizza and beers for everyone.

[00:23:17] Michaela: Yeah. And I think this is also showing too, that even though you're maybe not directly working exactly in that role, that you're, you know, are going to now work, you are acquiring so many new skills, right? So yeah. I mean, if you are a tester for five years, And then a tester for 10 years. I really wonder, can you, No.

Now, is there such a big difference between a tester that you know into it for five years, for seven years or for 10 years? Or maybe you know, a person that sees something else that learns something else? Different skills, right? Being in a different environment. And then it's not that you have been a nurse, right?

You're still in the testing. You know, In the testing, environ. , but suddenly you have really different skill sets to learn and you bring that actually as a very as a bonus. I think if we are all, we all want people to, you know, think out of the box and, you know, be openminded and be, you know, have. Initiative and inspiration and whatnot.

Right. But then we want them to do the same things for 25 years. Right. , don't change anything in your current path, right? Yep. Just be a tester and you know, be it from day one until you die . Yeah. Which makes no sense to be right. So you're actually bringing a lot of different. Different skills and different perspectives, and I think perspectives are extremely important for a tester.

Right? Having different perspectives and knowing actually this product could be maybe used differently. Or . Yeah. Yeah. You know, I could attempt to do this with that product and so on. Right. So this is actually a, a great

[00:24:53] Heather: benefit I think. . Yeah, definitely.

[00:24:56] Michaela: Yeah, so it was definitely nice to hear that, right? To hear suddenly somebody being, and, and I think probably not only hearing it after the fact, I think you can sense it, you can sense that the person is generally happy with how you perform at, you know, at the interview and even more, I would argue that you can sense what they think about you in the first seconds.

And this last whole, you know, interview, if they look at you and they, they think right secretly, maybe even unconsciously. Oh, Heather, The not tester, . Yeah. You know, the person far gone,

[00:25:33] Heather: you know, the, the, the, the

[00:25:36] Michaela: career switcher. Yeah. They will perform a very different interview than, you know, the person that comes in and sees Heather.

Yeah, you know, header who wants to be a tester here and has experience in the testing community and, and a lot of experience and very valuable experience, right? They will ask different questions. They will integrate your answers very differently, right? And probably you also perform differently because you feel how they.

Respond to your,

[00:26:04] Heather: you know. Yeah. You feel like there are people that you could work with. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:26:11] Michaela: I interviewed once for Google and, and interview started off me and the person interviewing me, arguing whether I'm interviewing for the software engineering Precision or the pro product manager.

Oh,

[00:26:26] Heather: that's a great start. .

[00:26:28] Michaela: Yeah. Right. And I said, I'm here for the software engineering position. And he says, No, you're here for the product manager. And I'm no . Go back, back and forth. And you know, you can

[00:26:39] Heather: imagine how that went.

Yeah,

[00:26:46] Michaela: it was just downhill after that. .

[00:26:50] Heather: Yeah. Yeah. I do, I do wonder sometimes, like, cuz I've, I've heard of a, one of my colleagues who went from being a test manager back to being a tester and she talks about her quitting criteria for an interview. Mm. So at one point in when she was interviewing to get to get back air quotes into testing she, she said, I well minded an interview.

She just said, I'm sorry, it's, that's just call it a day here. I'm, I'm not proceeding with this interview. And I kind of thought, Wow. Massive respect for doing. in the middle of an interview because like that, like you, you sat through that interview. I, after having that experience, when you already probably had a good feeling that like they had to, they would've had to wow you.

At that point to make go for them. I mean, I was

[00:27:48] Michaela: writing algorithms

[00:27:50] Heather: in Google Dogs, . Yeah. Which was the most horrible experience

[00:27:55] Michaela: ever with this guy that didn't believe I can be a software engineer. So, you know, it was just done

[00:28:00] Heather: from the beginning.

[00:28:01] Michaela: Like, there, there one, no, there was no path to success. .

[00:28:06] Heather: Yeah,

[00:28:08] Michaela: It was already close and, And I did it right. I should have said, Well, you. If I, because he's probably not even prepared to do an s d e interview, right? Yeah. Like he's prepared to do a different kind of interview and then we do this, you know I don't know, string search,

[00:28:23] Heather: thing in booby dogs, which,

[00:28:25] Michaela: or I, I can't remember what was some of those very.

Traditional . Yeah. You know, coding past things where you traver in Google Docs thingy, right? Well anyway. Yeah. So cool. So then you got this job, but there's still something in between that we are not talking about. This project that you're doing right.

[00:28:46] Heather: Mm. The, the projects that I'm doing in work.

Yeah. The many projects. Yeah. I've, I've I have nearly too many projects now. Yeah. .

[00:28:56] Michaela: So why are you doing those and what are those projects and what would you recommend others?

[00:29:02] Heather: Yeah. So I suppose when, when I was starting into the job, I. I had been speaking to a career coach at the mm-hmm. at, before I started, and I was kind of like, Mm, yeah, maybe we'll do it.

We'll see. Because I was still doubting myself that I could do anything. And then when I signed the contract for Glo Fox, I thought, Do you know what? That's, let's just do this, let's do this career coaching. So in addition to a full-time job and. Being a mom, I, I started the career coaching in the evenings and, and working on some small side projects to kind of, to really harness skills that I already had, but in a, in a productive way mm-hmm.

So getting a website set up, writing blogs about my experience because when I look back at my career, . For me, a blog is a very good personal diary, but that's public. So how did I handle that situation in the past? So the blog post that you mentioned at the start of Yeah. The, this podcast is an example o of of that.

It's like a writing a letter to my future self of if you ever doubt your abilities. Know that you are excellent. So So yeah, in, in work then I have a, a lot of, a lot of projects kind of spinning that I de I decided I wanted to do myself. So while we can test the product that we're working on, there's many other ways that testers can have a positive impact in their organiz.

So two examples of of projects that I'm working on are, are trying to get the bug backlog down in our, in our team. And sometimes that means, Okay, well here's a bug that's four years old. Clearly nobody is going to do anything about. or can it even be reproduced? Like is it on such an old version of the software that that section just doesn't exist anymore?

But then there's others and it's, and it's trying to encourage the team to, to tackle them. Because I believe as a tester that if, if customers are continually reporting the same bugs, that presents a really bad image of the. To that customer. Mm-hmm. like, it's like, well, you're not even gonna action this.

So if I wanted a new feature, like, are you even going to consider that? And, and that's, that's my mindset as a user of, of products where bugs aren't actioned. So I work, I'm working on getting that tackled, but a super, a super secret project, , that the team worked. Recently was trying to build accessibility into our role by labs because I, I'm a huge accessibility advocate.

I, I believe that everything. It should be as accessible as it possibly can be. Does that mean that everybody would be able to use it? Not necessarily. So I'm thinking here, you know, like mountain biking trails as an example. Mm-hmm. , like, not everyone can use them, but they can, they can be accessible to, to some people who aren't, you know, 20 somethings with , with kick ass bites.

So the accessibility project was on top of all of the other things we were doing, bringing new features into the product, this bold backlog. Some other like projects like trying to build an automation, a bigger automation suite for the product and it. It's been so rewarding, . Um, It's, it start, it started off with the kind of the team maybe saying, Yeah, we need to build accessibility in, but I mean, we dunno where to start.

I said, Well, I don't exactly know where to start either, but if we agree to do this together, you never know. Like what we could. And so we, in the organization, the way we work is we slice down features which means that we're delivering, When we're delivering, we're delivering the smallest piece of something that delivers value to the customer.

Mm-hmm. , And by, it's not quite MVP land, it's more. Value and risk. So by delivering the smallest thing possible, we're re, we're trying to reduce business and technical risk. So we're not gonna over-engineer a whole new database, for example. We're gonna see what we can do maybe with the existing functionality we have, and then slowly build upon that as we get feedback.

Mm-hmm. From our customers. So with the accessibility project we, we sliced it down to the smallest possible paths through the app and we decided to just focus on the screen reader journey because if we started to play around with color contrasts or things like that, our users would start to notice mm-hmm.

and we didn't quite want them to notice when we were still trying to figure this all out. So we started with the, with the screen reader journey, and we sliced that down as small as possible. So it was like a user will be able to log in using a screen reader, a user will be able to search for a class using a screen reader.

And we, we, we broke it all down like that incrementally so that each, at each step of the way we were delivering value to somebody. Mm-hmm. . And so this, this is a, this is a long way of saying that , when you, or if you are thinking of getting back into software testing or software engineering or whatever industry you feel like you've been out of for a while, but you like to get back to don't necessarily feel intimidated by people's blogs and YouTube channels and everything, talking about all of the amazing things.

they're doing because that can seem super daunting and, and similar with the job search. There's so many things to do with the job search, but if you slice it down like we did with the projects or how we do with features into the smallest possible thing that can deliver value to you as an individual, and you have.

A metric, I hate using the term, but you have, you have something that you can say, Yes, this slice of the thing was a success. So for example, I am going to write one paragraph of an introduction for a cover letter. So your success metric is you have a paragraph that introduces you on your cover letter.

Yeah. And that it, that, that then helps you to tackle it. Trying to get back into a new industry or what, what can seem like it's a new industry? It can be, it can be, it can feel massive. It can be terrifying. Yeah. But if you break it down to smaller, to smaller winds, then you're getting a little win along the way.

[00:36:56] Michaela: And I, I actually think like, how long have you now been at the

[00:37:00] Heather: blue? Six months.

[00:37:01] Michaela: Six months. And you talked about so many things that you're already impacting there. I actually think that there's, it's a little bit imprinted in your mind. You can't have impact . Yeah. Even though he said within the first week, like you're like, I can have impact, you know?

Yeah. And I think you are definitely showing, right? And you're proving people wrong, which. I don't think it's necessary. Right. But obviously it feels very good for yourself and for your self-esteem, Right. To say, Yeah. Wow, you all really missed out on an amazing person, you know? Yes. That you're completely underestimated, right?

[00:37:36] Heather: Yeah. Yeah. And that it was something I, I talked to my boss about last week before I published a blog post because I said, You know, I'm writing this, this blog, and it's like the, the vibe of it is you. A letter to everyone who said, I couldn't do this, and here's the impact I've made in, in my first, I said, I'd break it down and just do the first three months.

And he said, You don't, you don't need to do that. Like in the company, we're all seeing the impact that you're having. I said, I know I don't need to from a company perspective, but I want to from from a perspective of near. Reminded myself that I could do it. Yeah. Because my career coach said to me when I started the job, create a document at Google Docs, and he said, And every time you have a small win, so, oh, for, I, I wrote one automation test today and I haven't written one in six years, for example, he said, Write that down.

That's a. And he said, When you get to your six month review, open that Google Doc in front of your team lead because they're going to, they're, they're going to know obviously the impact that I've had so far, as you mentioned. But he said, when you open that Google Doc and you scroll for pages and pages of the wins you've had, Big and small.

He said that's like, that's hard evidence that you were excellent at what you do. Yeah. And I thought it was really vain when he first said it, but now I'm looking at it and I'm like, Oh, I can do this. I can actually, I can really have an

[00:39:17] Michaela: impact. And I think, I was actually talking with Michael Lynch for his podcast, and he has something that's called.

What I, what I have done or something, right? Mm-hmm. , there were also startups got this done or something like this, and it's very similar, right? That it's it's a memory of what I have actually accomplished. And I think it's so, so important for career advancement because we, we assume the team lead will.

But you don't know what you have done the last three months because you will forget, right? Yeah. You will know a couple of things, maybe seven, because that's somehow what we can keep in mind, right? Yes. Yep. But you probably have done, I don't know, 70, right? And so having this document and really looking through it will refresh your memory and this will be so important for your, you know, advancement of your career in that company.

Yeah. But something else I think, and, and this is, you know, reminds me what you said at the beginning, the community boss, that that did a lot of things behind the scenes. Yeah, and also in companies, we are doing a lot of things behind the scenes, and so when I, for example, left Microsoft, I thought about all these things that have been done inside Microsoft and that people knew inside Microsoft, but the world didn't know about it.

Right? Yeah. It's like the only thing I was left was that I could put one line on my CV saying, Oh, I have been at Microsoft from this to that date, and maybe have a small paragraph of what I. What I've done. It's tiny, right? Yeah. Would I have done a block? Right. And driving, let's say every three months.

Yeah. You know, a summary of the main things that you have accomplished. Then that's a document not only for internally advancing your career, but also externally. So I think what you're doing right now, right, with writing that down, and you don't have to publish every week a blog post, but you know, occasionally writing something about what you.

Helps you also with your career outside, because you never know, right? Maybe you want to, you know, maybe they let people go or you know, you want to change at one point, and also to establish your value inside the company. So I think blogging and having a blog, even if it's a simple, you know, Red Press blog, blog or something right, is so, so important.

[00:41:32] Heather: Well, yeah, I completely over-engineered mine and I went into like, Oh, I'm gonna, I'm gonna do this myself, but . But again, it was kind of one of those things of just to prove that I could do it. Yeah,

[00:41:46] Michaela: yeah, yeah. And I totally see that if you are like a little bit hurt, you know, from all these external evaluations and evaluations and, you know, hearing.

You know, you're not there or you've gone or whatnot. Right. It's, it's not nice. So you have to prove somehow that, Yeah. But yeah, I'm super happy that you have this great role now header. Thank you so much. And you have your blog and that I could talk with you about it. I think it was very, very interesting.

And yeah, don't let anybody, you know, get some doubt into

[00:42:19] Heather: your head. Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's definitely something everyone should take away. So yeah, if you're, if you're feeling scared or daunted about what's ahead of you, slice it all down into smaller chunks and, and just tackle those one by one.

Yeah. Baby steps.

[00:42:38] Michaela: Yes. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Thank you so much, Heather. Thank you. Thank you so much. Have a good,

[00:42:43] Heather: You too. Bye.

[00:42:46] Michaela: This was another episode of the Software Engineering Unlocked Podcast. If you enjoy the episode, please help me spread the word about the podcast. Send episode to a friend via email, Twitter, LinkedIn.

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