Recruiting to fill a tester position is a difficult and time-consuming activity, each time I have posted a job ad I have mentally prepared myself for a flood of applications and a long and grueling hunt to find the perfect person. At the same time I hear endless reports on how hard it is to find a job, how many applications such and such has made, often without a single interview. So here are my thoughts on where the process is going wrong – each job is different but I believe most, if not all are relevant to any job application.
The cover letter; this is the first thing the recruiter will read, it is never ever optional. No matter how you have applied for the job, through a recruitment agent, online or via post you must always write a cover letter. In its simplest form this letter is a couple of paragraphs introducing yourself and explaining why you feel you are suitable for the job. The most important thing is to make this unique to the job you are applying for, generic cover letters will not cut it. You need to show you have read the job ad, plus any other company information that is available and you need to spell out exactly why you feel you will be perfect for this role.
The CV; Always keep this to a maximum of 2 pages, with a font size of at least point 10 (well you want them to be able to read it don’t you?). Keep in mind that the goal of your CV is to get an interview, keep it focused and avoid the long job history if it doesn’t add anything to this role. You don’t need to go into details about every job you have ever had, the last 2-3 will be more than enough if they’re relevant. Ideally you should be using your job history, education and experience to back up everything you said in your cover letter – if the job is looking for agile experience then write about the agile experience you have and how you came about it. Likewise if the job requires someone who is passionate about testing them make sure your CV screams passion!
Tailoring your application; If you’ve read the job ad and done a bit of research into the company then you should have a reasonable idea about the company culture, use this to your advantage. If you’re applying for a job at a bank then keep your language formal, if it’s a media company then you can afford to be a bit more informal. Either way, keep the language on your cover letter and CV consistent, nothing highlights document re-use more than the language suddenly changing style half-way through. Even though you might be applying to dozens or more companies you really want your application to look like it was specifically aimed at this company, show them how much you would like to join the company.
Finally, if you’re applying for a testing job then do whatever it takes to avoid any errors in your application (yes, get your mum to read it if you need to).