Craig is a great example of persistence and dedication to his dream. Despite a long journey, he succeeded in joining the IT industry as a Manual QA professional.
What is your background?
I didn’t have a computer science degree. In September, I lost my job at the airport because of staffing reductions due to COVID. In fact, I was three days away from putting my house on the market when the job came up. I couldn’t have done it without you.
We’re glad to hear you still live at your place. By the way, are you living on the East Coast?
Yes, I’m from North Carolina.
How long was your job search?
This was a long time coming. You’ve always told us about exceptions, and my story is definitely an exception. My job search was seven months long.
Quite a long time, indeed. Were you actively searching the entire time?
I think a couple of weeks ago somebody mentioned that between Thanksgiving and Christmas replies went way down but I kept applying. I was doing about 30-40 applications a day, just as we were recommended to do.
Did your mentor reach out to you during that time?
After about three months, Careerist contacted me via Slack and pointed out a couple of things that I could improve upon. I also had a couple of confidence issues that we worked on, and after that it clicked.
I can tell you that probably 60-70 percent of questions are going to be around what you know. Can you tell us a bit more about the questions you had during the interview?
In the interview with the hiring manager, it was more about nontechnical, personality questions. Even when I had a meeting with two members of my team, there wasn’t any super-technical stuff. They asked about how I handle conflicts and stressful situations. They also asked what I did before QA and how I got into QA, besides the standard questions about the current project and vending machine testing.
Basically, they touched on everything that was in the 15 questions in the study guide.
Did you mention your graduation year on your resume? Or maybe you showed too much of your previous experience from other jobs?
No, I didn’t do any of those things. But I was supposed to have my background check done with banks, and it was a little complicated. I guess I tried to avoid the banks. After a while, I started getting into it and just having conversations, and it went much better.
Editor’s note: You shouldn’t be afraid of applying at banks, because there are many opportunities to get hired at a bank, as long as you don’t have a really serious criminal record. In most cases, you will have no problem passing a background check with a bank.
If you are going to apply for a job at a bank, the only difference is that sometimes you need to follow a dress code at the interview. This can be strange, because at most companies this isn’t a requirement. Generally speaking, don’t dress up for an interview unless you are told to do so. Just make sure your LinkedIn profile tells the truth about who you really are.
It’s probably not your age that’s the reason you had to search for such a long time.
Editor’s note: Usually, companies are looking for people who are 25-35 years old. At the same time, though, people over 40 are more serious and tend not to jump from company to company every few months. They are more focused, which is an asset for a company.
Have you started your job yet?
Yes. I’ve been there for three weeks already.
How much do you get paid?
I was asking from $70,000 to $80,000, and they gave me $78,000. It’s full time with a good compensation package, so I have no out-of-pocket expenses for my benefits. Overall, it’s probably worth much more than that, something like $85,000.
Is it a remote job?
It’s a 100 percent remote job, and it’s a West Coast company. I only wanted a remote job, so if it was an office or hybrid option I turned it down immediately. Looking back now, I probably wouldn’t have done that.
I see. Now we’re starting to understand this seven-month-long job search. What hours do you work?
I work from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. The West Coasters will pop up at 11:00 am my time and I’ll be halfway through my day. They have already sent me the equipment. I have a MacBook, an iPhone, and Google Pixel.
Sounds great! How is it?
It started with two weeks of onboarding, which were just reading and learning. It was a lot of doing nothing, and it was tough doing nothing. In fact, they do not actually expect you to do anything during that time. They give you access, time to explore, and time to read the documentation (at least once).
Welcome to our world. At some point, you won’t have busy days every day.
They started me off with a 15-question pamphlet. I had plenty to do. I was assigned to different teams, all of which were very laid back and didn’t expect me to know everything right away. I still need to learn the software. I also attend meetings.
Some Careerist graduates are quite stressed when they hear about meetings. In most meetings, however, the QA team—and especially Manual QA specialists—just come and listen. Have you actively participated in many meetings yet?
It was my third week, and I had an app that had some front end updates. I was doing test cases to make sure everything worked correctly. And that was the first meeting I spoke at, other than saying hello. They don’t expect you to know everything up front, and they teach you a lot.
The best advice at first is to attend meetings and try to understand as much as you can. If you have questions, ask someone after the meeting. Sometimes they discuss points that are worth paying attention to, and sometimes things that should be ignored. In some cases there might be technical or corporate language you don’t understand, and that’s totally fine.
Is there any advice you would like to share?
Just don't get discouraged. I thought about quitting many, many times. And then I would come to these meetings and see people getting jobs, and I kept up my search. I was trying to be as comfortable as I can be. Employers often look at your personality. Be the person you are.
Sometimes there are obstacles, but motivation and focus help you overcome these things. The saddest thing is to see people give up for whatever reason, forget about their job search, and keep working at a minimum-wage job. It’s great that you did your best and succeeded in finding a better job with a decent wage. Good luck with your career growth!