In today’s competitive digital landscape, an individual or business needs to be a pro in multiple aspects to stay ahead of rivals. Software testers are no exception—a software tester has to go the extra mile to be considered a great tester. Apart from having a strong hold on the technical side of testing, they must have great soft skills.
Soft skills are basically the traits and abilities that enable an individual to work effectively in the workplace. Soft skills not only help you build a great career in the software testing field, but also give you leadership and teamwork skills. You don’t need to invest a lot of time in learning soft skills; rather, these skills can be learned alongside your testing job.
The Importance of Soft Skills for Software Testers
Having the right skills and knowledge to carry out the testing process is necessary for software testers, but soft skills are equally important in order to tackle problems smartly, calmly, and with full support and team cooperation.
Whereas technical skills help a tester to sharpen their technical expertise, soft skills control the other aspects of a tester—from their work life, problems, and all other life aspects. A software tester simply needs to know a lot more beyond the testing strategies, and this is where soft skills prove their true potential.
I have noticed that whenever I get stuck while testing, it’s not always the knowledge and testing tools that solve the problem. Rather, soft skills have an equal share in the problem-solving process. Instead of escalating the issue to someone else, soft skills enable me to act wisely and make good decisions while tackling the problem smartly.
Being technically strong will definitely assist you in getting the job you have been dreaming of, but if you wish to excel in the testing field in the long run, you need to sharpen your skills and have great soft skills, as well. Emphasizing the soft skills can definitely assist you in becoming a pro in the testing industry. And since many software testers only focus on improving their testing skills, hardly anyone pays attention to soft skills (and this might be your biggest mistake).
Knowing what soft skills are useful for software testers will help you stay out of trouble and deliver accurate, bug-free, and outstanding output. It will directly help you to not only become a pro in the testing industry, but also become a great leader. It’s not the qualifications or years of experience in the testing industry that define a leader, but how wisely you manage your team and how happy the teammates are.
If you are only concerned about your professional skills and don’t invest good time in sharpening other skills to uplift the other areas of life, you are at a major loss. You need to regularly interact with your coworkers, know what’s going on, and be involved in client meetings and manager meetings, apart from finding and fixing bugs in an app. These small things will eventually help you become a great leader and a person with great exposure to handling diverse situations smartly.
Furthering your software testing skills won’t teach you teamwork or how to be a great leader, but developing your soft skills will give you the skills to manage or work with your team.
Top Soft Skills for Software Testers
Once you realize the importance of soft skills to being a great tester, leader, or team player, you will definitely love to develop your soft skills. Well, I’ll make your job easy, as I have put together a list of eight proven soft skills.
Becoming a software tester may be an easily achievable task once you get exposure to the testing tools; however, to become the most-wanted software engineer, you need to go the extra mile and think out of the box. And having a great set of soft skills will help you be an excellent test engineer who everyone in or beyond the testing industry admires.
In this guide, we are going to discuss the top soft skills that software testers should be aware of. You must try implementing every skill on a regular basis to experience the expected results. Let’s get started!
1. Be a Healthy Communicator
One of the most important soft skills is healthy communication. As a software tester or leader, you need to communicate in a manner that both technical and non-technical people can easily understand. Whenever you conduct meetings, people will gather from different departments and not everyone will be clear about the testing part. So you need to convey things in a simple and clear way, which is a part of healthy communication.
Being a healthy communicator is always a two-way process—listening is as important as speaking. You must not only advise others, but learn to listen to others’ perspectives, as well. For instance, a software tester is an important contributor to a requirements discussion meeting. During this discussion, you can improve yourself by understanding the system while focusing on a few aspects such as asking questions frequently throughout the meeting, seeking confirmation while confused, always making eye contact with the person who is speaking or giving the presentation, maintaining a positive posture, and giving positive feedback quite often.
And in this case, while you are organizing a meeting and you are the speaker, the first thing you need to keep in mind is to believe in yourself. Just think before you speak and try making eye contact with everyone present in the meeting. Take note of your pace and slow down if required. You must practice small conversations, and try to resolve the conflicts. Maintain positive body language throughout the meeting, as it will make difficult conversations flow easily without any effort.
Furthermore, you may find yourself talking to coworkers and clients with diverse demographics, languages, and so on. In that scenario, you need to have confidence and understanding while conveying information simply and clearly. This will help those clients or team members easily understand the idea while overcoming communication barriers.
2. Stay Proactive and Organized
For good results, software testers need to remain proactive while going through the testing life cycle and observing every individual phase with full attention. Secondly, they need to know how to manage and prioritize tasks based on deadlines, and to stay organized.
In my software testing career, I have heard most of the testers complaining that they don’t receive the expected response even after putting in so much effort while interacting effectively during the meetings. They even say that they fail to express their thoughts clearly and are often asked to repeat things throughout a session or a meeting.
Well, as per my experience, I would say that if you have clearly gathered everything you are going to carry out in the meeting in advance, you can definitely overcome all these hurdles smartly. Before organizing a meeting yourself, you must attend numerous meetings so that you can proactively analyze every single thing a speaker takes care of during a meeting—their tone, body language, confidence, how they tackle the queries, how often they make eye contact, and how they close the meeting. All these things can definitely help you in managing meetings successfully while convincing every single participant in the meeting.
While planning your projects, make sure that you prioritize so that you meet targets on time and don’t miss project deadlines. A software tester needs to be aware of how to manage their work, and perhaps even their team, effectively. You need to sit with your team, discuss the tasks everyone is assigned, and set the priorities based on the project deadlines. Once you learn how to organize your tasks and remain proactive, you will start loving your job and eventually turn into a great leader, as well.
3. Understand the User Perspective
A successful software tester should not only implement their testing strategy, but also understand the situation from the user’s perspective. You must step into the customer’s shoes, and understand their business goals, requirements, and pain points so that you can deliver desired outcomes.
Regardless of the project you are working on, customer satisfaction is one thing that must be the end result of any project. Customers expect quality outputs and are not concerned about the number of test cases created or the number of bugs you have reported; they simply want to see the quality outputs. For this, you’ll have to dig deeper about what exactly the customer is expecting from you, and what the current bottlenecks are in the project so that you can fix them right away.
To learn this skill, you must engage in client meetings where you can have face-to-face interaction with the client to listen to their problems and understand their target audience and expectations. This gives you a deeper understanding of their requirements than simply learning the project details from one of your coworkers. You must frequently attend client calls and keep them informed about every phase of the project, as well as ask for their suggestions so that you can work on those areas.
4. Be Adaptable
Since customer demands evolve every moment and the industry standards update from time to time, as a software tester you must be able to adapt. During a project, new requirements might come up suddenly, replacing the earlier ones or requiring retesting.
Adaptability is basically the ability to change your action plan as per the changing conditions. So you’ll have to bring changes to the system while ensuring that everything runs smoothly and without any hurdles or delays. Since the software industry is dynamic and keeps evolving every now and then, you must be proficient in integrating new information for drawing a conclusion, and you must be mentally ready to tackle the challenges smartly and with patience rather than stressing out. You must learn to experiment with new ideas so as to easily adapt to the unique and new client needs.
In that case, you have to be considerate and invest time with your team to plan a strategy for adapting to changes. Organize meetings and sessions with your team, take suggestions from everyone, and come up with a decision that caters to the diverse client needs.
5. Organize Meetings
Some software testers try to carry out their testing job without getting involved in meetings. But at some point, you’ll have to engage in meetings so as to understand testing requirements more clearly.
Usually, most of the meetings are carried out without any clear purpose and plans, and this is the reason why most of the requirements are either left unexplained or skipped. So, before you plan a meeting, you need to have a clear agenda for the meeting, make brief documents that include the discussed issues, make decisions, and identify topics to be discussed briefly. It will serve as a guide map for you and result in a successful meeting without skipping any important aspects.
Attend as many meetings as you can, and even carry out meetings to discuss client requirements, project deliverables, and what your team can do to overcome the client’s pain points.
When you plan a meeting, try to involve a minimum number of people so that the meeting is effective enough. The majority of great meetings don’t have more than eight people, as it helps in concentrating on the speakers, avoiding unwanted discussions, and limiting the information flow.
While you plan to organize a meeting, make sure that you are well prepared in advance about what will be discussed in the meeting, and make sure that every team member participates in the meeting and shares their views. Try to note the helpful insights so that you can come up with fruitful business decisions later. It will not only help you gain knowledge, but every person indulging in the session will learn a lot while participating in the meeting.
6. Understand the Product Thoroughly
Before getting into the testing phase, the foremost thing you need to carry out is an analysis of each and every aspect of the product. Having a better understanding of the product enables you to understand every phase of the product development life cycle and carry out the testing process effectively.
This will not only help you prioritize the right tests, but also help you to make better decisions in future exploratory tests. Doing this will enable you to meet customer expectations with less effort and deliver expected results on time.
7. Maintain a Positive Outlook
Despite your endless efforts and dedicated work in the testing process, there will be times when you don’t come up with the desired results or the customer dislikes the product. When this happens, you need to keep one thing in mind: Stay positive and keep your team positive throughout the software testing life cycle.
While you interact with your team, avoid using rough words and hurtful comments; rather, go for polite and constructive phrasing. This will automatically spread positivity on your team and even you’ll feel good. While carrying out desktop testing, you must try to involve and get suggestions from the developers, as well. Considering their views will not only help you technically, but even boost their productivity.
Moreover, invest a good amount of time with your team, conduct and attend regular informative sessions, or even indulge in some fun activities, as this will definitely help you maintain a positive outlook in the long run. And whenever you get stuck somewhere, there’s no need to be a pessimist about it. Rather, interact with your coworkers, discuss the problem thoroughly, and get their ideas. It will definitely help you solve the problem more smartly and stay away from negative vibes.
8. Gain and Share Knowledge
You can only grow if you are continuously learning new things about the latest tools and trends in the testing industry, and sharing what you know about the latest software testing trends with others. This will give you a clear idea of what your competitors are up to and what strategies they are using.
The majority of software testers even feel that sharing knowledge like the functionality of an app is not their job; developers are there to do that. In fact, the sad part is that many managers also believe the same. But believe me, sharing knowledge is not sharing but a part of gaining knowledge. While you share knowledge with someone, they will ask you some questions and give their views on the same. By this, you’ll get more ideas for processes and improvements. So it eventually leads to your personal growth, as well, apart from the organizational growth.
Not only should you organize sessions for others, but it is equally important that you yourself attend meetings and sessions held by other coworkers. From time to time, you should conduct and participate in sessions where you can learn new things from testing experts and even share your knowledge with new testers.
Boost Your Career With Soft Skills
Regardless of the number of years you have spent in the testing industry, soft skills are essential for you to turn into an ideal software tester and meet customer expectations easily and quickly.
Soft skills are something that you can’t learn on a single day and expect to stay relevant for your entire life. Rather, these skills need to be updated from time to time so as to meet customer needs and reach the changing industrial standards. Testers with great soft skills need to keep themselves informed on the recent updates in the testing industry; participate in every possible webinar, conference, and client meeting; and engage with team members so that they can reach their goals and boost their professional growth.