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QA in 2021: Looking back at the job searching process

Job Market
Jul 21, 2021

The first half of 2021 is over, but for Careerist these past few months have been incredibly successful.

So many graduates have found amazing jobs in huge companies, and they’ve all been so great in tracking their job searching processes, so that we can share their experiences with you! 

The number of QA jobs out there right now is constantly growing, and it seems that the world is slowly recovering from the pandemic. So, we thought now would be a great time to share some tips and tricks about the job searching process with you all. 

Keep on reading to learn about the pressing concerns our graduates have had, what mistakes you need to avoid and what questions our students like to ask. 


Are there enough QA jobs on the market for beginners? 

35 graduates found their QA jobs between January-February, they didn’t have any prior knowledge or experience of working in QA. All 35 graduates are working in manual testing positions around the US. 

We already have graduates working in 25 states in the US, and our list of states is continuously growing.  Students used to get one offer in one state, but now students are getting multiple offers in various states. There’s so much choice for graduates right now.  

In big cities, there are around 800+ positions open on a regular basis. Not many people are actively searching for jobs in QA, so you have an amazing chance of finding an epic job that’ll come with an outstanding yearly salary.   

So, yes, there are plenty of job opportunities for beginners.

What salary can I expect to earn?

Big cities like New York and Chicago offer $100,000 a year salaries to individuals working in QA. Other states typically offer salaries in the region of $70,000-$80,000 a year. 

Is QA work office or remote based?

Most of the positions held by our graduates are remote based (95% according to the data, provided by our students). 

Mistakes to avoid

We looked back at the last 6 months to see what the most common mistakes students made during the job searching process were. Here they are:  

Mistake 1. Not sending out enough applications

A lot of students didn’t send out enough applications during their job searching process. This resulted in them not hearing back from recruiters and missing opportunities. So, don’t fall into this trap. 

Some former students noted that they would only apply for about 10-15 jobs a day, therefore, they made their job searching process much longer. 

Be ready to stay persistent for two-three months. We strongly recommend applying for 30-40 positions per day. Try to keep a record of all the jobs you’ve applied to, state who and where the jobs are.

If you don’t see results within the first month, keep trying. Giving up is the worst thing you can do. 

There are always exceptions, of course. Some people are lucky to get a job offer very early on in the job searching process, perhaps 2-5 weeks in. But don’t compare yourself to other graduates. All you need to do to  succeed is to follow the instructions we give you, be proactive and be patient.

We recommend that you try and build up some connections on your LinkedIn profile, preferably in your area, so you can see/follow job opportunities as they come up. 

Mistake 2. Lack of motivation

Whenever people start to get rejection letters/emails from companies, or recruiters ring them up to say they have decided to go with someone else, or they get told that they need additional skills, graduates start to give up on looking for a job.

It is disheartening to hear such comments, after all, looking for a job is not easy. But, you must be persistent. If you find yourself lacking motivation take a break, contact your career coach, speak to your friends and family. Don’t give up because you will get there. 

Careerist doesn’t exist to waste your time, effort and energy. We believe in you and we know that you can be successful. All you need to do is focus, practice and be patient. 

Mistake 3. Rushing the process

Don’t be afraid to delay your internship, you don’t have to do it straight after the course. You can start it any time. All you need to do is contact the support team. 

It’s always worth doing the internship to gain real world experience. Plus, it will help you to sound and to feel more confident when you go to interviews, so it isn’t a waste of time.

Additionally, you can contact your career coach for interview preparation tips, and you can get some advice on areas where you could improve on before applying for jobs. There’s no rush, it’s not a race. Just take your time. (If you can’t see your career coaches’ emails, check your spam and promotion folders).

Finally, don’t rush straight into automation. Take some time out to learn more about manual QA. Learn about automation when you are ready. Indeed, if you have automation skills you will be able to earn more money and you will have more responsibilities, but you can work towards this in a reasonable amount of time - there is no need to rush. 

Mistake 4. Accepting inappropriate job offers to kickstart your career in tech

Don’t rush into QA jobs. Ask recruiters questions, get to know the company and analyze the contract they are offering you. 

A lot of graduates are so elated by a job offer that they rush in and accept it, only to find out the job isn’t exactly what they thought it would be. 

For example, we don’t recommend that you join a company where you will be the only QA person in the team. You need to be a part of a QA team for your first job. Going it alone will cause you a lot of stress. It’s easier when you join a well established company that has a lot of processes already in place.

That being said, we did have a graduate that went into a company as the only QA person. They were successful. 

Mistake 5. Not using notes

If you need to take notes with you to an interview do so. Notes highlight to the interviewer that you have thought ahead. You can also write down some questions for the interviewer in your notes too. 

Additionally, if you plan on handing out resumes to recruiters don’t write anything profound or something that is not truthful on the page. 

Mistake 6. You need automation 

For some reason graduates believe they need automation skills to get a job in QA.

This is not essential. As we noted above, there are plenty of examples where students have got job offers for manual testing roles. 

You should not give up on applying for manual testing positions, in the hope of getting a job in automation immediately. 

The sad thing is 80% of graduates won’t be able to do automation. Why? Because they won’t be motivated or focused enough, and they won’t like all the coding involved because it will seem to be too complicated and sophisticated.

On the other hand, if you want to study automation, so that you can apply for automation roles you can do so. You will need to be highly motivated, and you will need to spend a minimum of 3-4 months studying before starting to apply for automated testing positions. You also need a good background in manual testing too. 

For future reference, getting an automation testing position will be much more complicated, because recruiters will expect you to understand a lot of different and difficult technical things. 

Ideally, after you get a job in manual QA, and when you have gained a little more experience in the QA field, then you should move into automated testing. 

Frequently asked questions

Here are some of the frequently asked questions we’ve been asked by our students over the last 6 months:

  • What positions can a Careerist graduate apply to?

Apply to any Software QA engineering job. Skip jobs that have Senior Automation in the title. Job descriptions aren’t always relevant, so drop an email to the recruiter and ask if there are any updates regarding the job. 

  • Do I need any in-depth knowledge to apply for jobs?

In 2/3 interviews out of 10 you will be asked about SQL or API. 

Be ready for this question and don’t panic. Answer like a human, and not a robot. You need to tell the recruiter the names of the commands you have used, but not their descriptions. There’s nothing complicated about it. 

Don’t worry if you don’t have mobile testing in your company. 

It’s not essential to learn about Selenium, Python, automation or WebDriver either. You can get an epic yearly salary of $70,000 to $100,000 for a manual testing role. 

You don’t need knowledge of Azure because knowledge of Jira and TestRail are more than enough.

  • How do we talk about our previous work experience or place of work with a recruiter?

It’s also okay not to reveal the names of clients you’ve worked for. It’s fine to show recruiters an application or project you’ve worked on.

  • Is there a significant difference between a graduate and a college degree?

There is no difference between a graduate and a college degree. Some college graduates join our courses to get more information about the tools and techniques to help them prepare for their job searching process. 

  • Does age matter?

Age doesn’t matter. We had a graduate in the past who received two job offers, and they were 19 years old. A lot of people in their early 20s get decent offers. 

  • What is more challenging to work with, Android or iOS? 

There are not many iOS devices. And you can easily count all the models because there are so few of them. This makes iOS simple to work with. 

At the same time, there are hundreds of Android devices with different platforms, resolutions and screens. So, it's impossible to cover all of them. It can be more complicated to work with Android. 

  • Has anyone been fired due to a lack of knowledge?

Not one graduate has been fired because of a lack of knowledge over the past 2 years. 

We have only had one person who has been fired from a role. During a meeting with their manager and their manager's team, the individual said “I can’t sit and do nothing, please, give me some work”. It’s vital that you don’t make your manager look bad in front of their manager. Sometimes you just have to keep calm and wait for further instructions from a manager.

  • What should I say about my testing philosophy? 

“My philosophy is to do the best for the customer. To be the voice of the customer and to deliver the best possible experience for the customer.”  

Essentially you should say the above in your own words.  

  • Do I have to have good hardware to be a QA tester?

You shouldn’t use your own devices for work. 

The company you work for should provide you with all the necessary equipment that you need, with all the relevant software already installed on it. 

It’s okay to feel overwhelmed in the first few weeks, or even months, of looking for a QA job. If you really want to ace the job searching process, you need to stay positive, be motivated and apply for 30-40 jobs a day.

It’s likely to get even more complicated when you find a job, because then you’ll need to get used to companies' policies and processes. But you will absolutely get there in the end. Eventually, you’ll look back at the whole process and see that it was all worth it in the end.

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