Generalist Tester – fine qualities to have?

Recently I applied for a testing role which unfortunately I didn’t secure but in the feedback that I asked for went a little like this “we felt that your experience was more from an all-around perspective and for this specific role we required a dedicated tester with solid experience in only testing.” They then went on to identify my skills as a ‘generalist tester’. This had me thinking what is the difference between a dedicated tester and a generalist tester?

First thing I always do if I don’t know something is ‘Google’ it ha! Not surprising there is a lot of web chatter about this. This article I found pretty interesting where it highlights why you would hire a specialist over a generalist and visa-versa. Excellent article and well supported with sound reasoning from a someone who builds a team. Have a read and let me know your thoughts around it. TechBeacon

Getting back to my feedback noted above, it made me contemplate exactly what kind of tester did I really want to be and why?

During my CAT training, the instructor told us to have a look at how Spotify models their development teams (again will include the link below) and this is exactly how I envision testing for myself. Having said that this model may not fit the heavily regulated financial or aviation sectors but it works really well for the music app and you can see why. Quick results driven by a ª’Autonomous Squad’ that fit like a part of the Spotify release puzzle. Even though each team would have their own piece of the puzzle or mission, this would need to be completely aligned with the business prioritises, product requirements and the other teams. While watching the video I found myself nodding and agreeing with how they had structured everything. That is where I think I came up with my answer to having been tagged as a ‘Generalist Tester’ and did that fit with my professional roadmap?

I am a generalist tester because:

  • The simple answer is,  I am too darn curious about everything and have a burning desire to learn it all. Testing for me is still like a kid in a candy store, it’s too difficult to choose one type of lolly (candy/sweets).

I’ve learned not only to be a valuable testing resource over a range of stages during SLDC but I can also wear a Business Analyst hat or a User hat by becoming the SME around what we are developing. I can have those conversations with both Stakeholders and Technical to refine the requirements. If the business needs a test strategy or plan, estimations & tool/resource requirements identified, creation & execution of scripts, identification of automation inclusion etc. These are all the day in the life of a ‘Generalist Tester’

The moral of the story from my perspective is, being a Generalist Tester is being a dedicated tester first and foremost, coupled with a curious mindset. It’s that mindset that drives you to explore not only your own role but all the others that connect with what you do. Your dedication to ensuring we, (the entire team) reaches the goal of a successful release of code, that provides what the business wants and needs.

ªDefinition of Autonomous Squad – A small cross-functional, self-organising team. Usually, less than 8 people who sit together and have end-to-end responsibility for the stuff they build. Please refer to the video link published by Luca Graziani for a full explanation as this definition is very high level. Spotify


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