Leaving the Nest

This is a story about me, my mom, and a doctor that my mom worked with. I apologize for not referencing the story that the doctor tells. I honestly do not know where he got the story/analogy from, but if you know the story and who should be referenced; let me know.

Way back when computers were really becoming a common household item, I graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Technology. I had been interviewing like crazy trying to find a job. It was difficult, but luckily it was very popular for companies to hire employees straight out of college. This was a time period that when someone got a job, they traditionally stuck with the employer until they retired. This practice has changed over the years and more and more people leave companies for “a better job/company”.

I was at home watching my dad iron his clothes in the kitchen and just chatting with him. At that time, there was no TV in the kitchen. I know it was a radical time. 🙂 I still lived at home, but was anxious to find a job. The phone rang and it was the recruiter from Great American life Insurance Company (GALIC) in Cincinnati, OH calling to offer me a junior developer position in the company.

I was ecstatic. I took down the information regarding the job, benefits, and his contact information. I told him that I would call back with in the hour with an answer, but that I wanted to think about it. Basically, that was all front…I just wanted to talk to my dad about the offer.

After talking it over, I decided to take the job. There really wasn’t much question about it; I was just confirming with dad that he felt it was a fair offer as well. Dad had way more experience than a green kid out of college and I knew that. I didn’t want the recruiter to know that’s what I was doing because I wanted to show that I was self-sufficient. So, I called the recruiter back and said that I was going to accept the offer. I received the information as to when my first day would be and where to go.

Once I got off the phone, dad says, “Don’t you think you should call your mom?” Excitedly, I called mom and gave her my awesome news that “I got a JOB!!!!” All I heard was silence on the other end. She finally asked where and how much I’d be making, but was very sad. I told her all the details ignoring the sadness I heard. We hung up and dad took me out to lunch to celebrate. Dads are great about things like that. He was just as sad as mom, but knew how much it meant to me. So he masked his pain to let me enjoy my moment.

I heard this part of the story later on from mom once she knew I was fine in Cincinnati. After mom hung up with me, she broke down crying because I was moving 3 hours away. I grew up an only child, so I was very close with both of my parents. Unfortunately, where I grew up, there just weren’t a lot of jobs at that time in the computer technology field. This was before the tech boom occurred.

Everyone tried to comfort her, but it wasn’t working. They were saying that I would be OK and she’ll come back to visit. All of the standard “make you feel good comments” were doing nothing for mom. Finally, a doctor in the practice came over and gave her a hug and started to tell a story out loud to everyone. He said:

There is this mommy bird and she has 2 little baby birds. She
nurtured the baby birds from the time they were an egg by
protecting the egg from predators and the elements to the time
they were getting ready to leave the nest. The mommy bird loved
her two baby birds with all her heart.

The day finally came where the baby birds were ready to leave
the nest. The mommy bird was very sad, but knew that it was time.
The first baby bird hopped out to a clear place on the limb,
tested her wings a bit, and jumped spreading her wings. The baby
bird flew back up past the mommy bird to show that she could fly
and soared off out of sight. The mommy bird was extremely happy
that her baby bird flew.

Next came her other baby bird who like the first baby hopped out
onto a clear spot on the limb. The little baby bird also checked
her wings, and jumped off the limb and seconds later went SPLAT
onto the ground below.

The doctor then pulled my mom away and asked, “Now do you have a flier? Or is your baby bird going to go SPLAT?” Mom replied that her baby bird was going to soar above everyone else. The doctor then asked “Why are you so sad then when you know that this is the first step to you baby bird soaring. You should be happy for her because you know you have a good egg and a good flier.”

Mom wiped her tears from her eyes and said, “I know you’re right. I have a flier and I should be happy for her.” Mom then went into a patient room with a little baby. As she was working up the physical on the little baby, she said, “You’re never going to leave your mommy for some job, are you?” The doctor she actually worked for started laughing and explained to the patients’ mom what was going on. The patients’ mom immediately gave my mom a hug and told her she understood.

When mom came home, she gave me a hug and told me she was proud of me. Then she suggested that we go out to dinner to celebrate and plan my move to family members’ house that lived in the area. Moms are great too!

So, to all you parents who are letting your kids grow up one way or another…Do you have a Flier or one that will go SPLAT?

The Next Generation is Interviewing for Jobs

I recently attended a Leadership Conference at work on Interviewing Techniques, and was extremely surprised at the next generation that is entering the workforce.

We were told that some of the next generation that is graduating from college and starting to enter the workforce is bringing mommy and/or daddy to their job interviews.  Let me just ask, “Really?”

For those who are interviewers, you can tell mommy and daddy that they cannot be in the interview with their little baby because mommy and daddy are not the candidates for the job.  If you choose to, you could ask mommy and daddy in the lobby why they think they should be there and what information are they looking to help their little baby with obtaining.

Other than that, throw them out the door. 🙂 Well, not literally, just give them a magazine and tell them that you will bring their precious little baby back to them.  Well, maybe not in those terms, but that’s what I would love to say to any mommy or daddy that arrives at an interview with their precious baby.  I would also like to ask the precious little baby if they need a pacifier.

I mean seriously little babies, you expect me to give you a job when you can’t even show that you can go to a job interview without having your hand held by your mommy and daddy?  Forget it, it shows to me that you have no backbone and cannot work in a group environment where you need to speak up for the betterment of the team without someone holding your hand.  I have no respect for you or anyone regardless of age that brings mommy and daddy to the interview.

Please don’t even apply for a job until you can stand on your own two feet and wipe your nose yourself.  Nobody who interviews you will respect you and if for some reason someone hires you (doubtful), you will be always thought of as the baby.  People might not say it to your face, but they will be thinking it.  You will have no respect among your peers.

And yes, I used mommy, daddy, and baby as terms for you on purpose because that is what you all are; a bunch of overprotective parents and little brat.

I know interviewing can be scary and nerve racking, but everyone goes through it and by bringing your mommy and daddy; you are just making things worse.  Everybody flubs an interview or two.  I did, my friends did, but you know what?  We took it as a learning lesson and did that much better at the next interview.  Learn from your mistakes because they will make you a better interviewee in the long run.

As for mommy and daddy, your precious little baby is growing up and it is time to finally cut the cord. Let go a little and let them grow.  It’ll be OK because your precious baby will not get their dream job if you show up at the interview with them, but if you aren’t there, they at least have a chance.

So, kids grow up, stand on your own two feet without assistance, and interview for a job on your own.  You can do it!

Quality Assurance (QA) Resume Advice

I am currently and have been in the past involved in reviewing software QA resumes to determine who I recommend we interview, and hopefully will hire.  I don’t claim to be the best writer out there (probably not even close), but I do try to use as proper of English as I can.  I grew up in the Midwest where ending with a preposition is required even though it is not proper English. 🙂

My background:  I have been in the Software QA industry since 1998, and I enjoy doing manual testing.  I would love to learn an automated test suite, but I feel that the software QA industry is flooded with automated testers.  I have an Oracle programming background which makes me a valued commodity in the QA industry.  I mean how often do you see a QA person with a programming background that enjoys manual testing and is good at it? Plus I can write a SQL query that puts the database administrator to shame. 🙂

At some point during my tenure at most of the companies I have worked for, I will get asked to review software QA resumes.  It absolutely amazes me at how many resumes I receive with misspellings, typos, grammatical errors, etc.  I circle each and every one of them with the dreaded red pen.  This is my very first impression of your abilities in the software QA position, and you just failed…big time!  I won’t hire you because I just realized that you have no attention to detail.

The other thing that baffles me is reading an objective that is meant for a programming position when you are applying for a QA position.  When writing a resume, you should tailor the objective to the position being applied for or make it very generic.  I’ll forgive a generic objective, but not one meant for another position because if your resume is for another position, then I know you plan to leave as soon as you find something else.  This is a point that I feel many people see recommended, but don’t take the time to do and then wonder why they aren’t called in for an interview.  We saw a lot of these during the recent recession where people were just looking for any job.

To help you get your resume past people like me and called in for a job interview where you can plead your case, here is some advice:

  1. Use a Spell Checker – It’s there, it’s free, it’s easy to use, so why in the world would you not take advantage of it?  If given a format without a spellchecker, I will copy your resume and place it in MS Word to check it myself.  I do not ding for alternate spellings like ‘e-mail’ or ’email’ as an example, but I will hold it against you if you “have a typo”.  Also, for people where English is not your first language, this holds true for you as well.  English is the language of the United States of America, and I fully expect you to be able to communicate with the people on your team in both written and verbal form.  If you show this to me in your resume, you are one step ahead.
  2. Read your resume backwards – Believe it or not, this works.  Why you ask?  Well, reading a resume backwards makes your mind read each word rather than when reading normally, your brain sees what it wants you to see and not necessarily what is there.  I know because I found typos in my own resume this way.
  3. Have someone else read your resume…preferably another QA person – I did this and the QA person ripped it apart, but for good.  This person also told me why certain lines were a problem and suggested ways to make it sound better.  On some of the items, I had to explain where I was going with a thought in order for the person to give me a suggestion.  The result is an awesome resume that has not one iota of a problem.  If you don’t know another QA person, for pete’s sake don’t ask a developer as they are, in general, horrible at writing documents.  🙂 There are exceptions to every rule though.  🙂 Also, don’t just have a significant other as your only reviewer.  A significant other will help you with selling yourself, but not necessarily with the information that you need to provide regarding your job.
  4. Tailor the objective and the job experience to the position you are applying for – If you will take any job in the software industry, you should have a resume tailored to each job.  A person who is currently a developer, but is applying for a QA position, should take their job history and find QA qualities that they exhibited in each development position that they held.  This will show that you have always had a QA mind while working in another position.  Then write a simple objective to cover the position you are applying for.
  5. Tailor the cover letter to the position you are applying for – Don’t forget to keep the cover letter to one page as most people don’t need a recitation of your resume.  Look at the attributes that an employer is looking for in a candidate, and briefly (and I mean briefly) describe how you think you fit each specific attribute and use brief examples.  I usually pick at least three different attributes from the job description to use and I find an example in my past where I have exhibited the attribute.
  6. Give full contact information – There was one resume that we received that had only the candidates’ first name and an e-mail address.  There was no phone number, address, or last name.  Why didn’t they want to give out their contact information?  Are they hiding something?  I have no idea, and the candidate did not make it past my desk.
  7. Suggested: Use MS Word formatting in your document – Please note that this is a suggestion only.  I always look at the resumes using the “Show/Hide Paragraph Mark” option.  There was one resume where instead of using bullet points the candidate typed it all including each and every single carriage return. 🙂 This person also did not use a table format (you don’t have to put a border around it) which would have helped with the indention.  I told my boss that there is an easier way using MS Word bullet points that you can configure and tables to accomplish what probably took them a long time to format.  Note that I did not necessarily ding the person for this, but I knew from looking at the resume that they probably wouldn’t be writing any documents for me.

Hopefully, you have seen some of the tricks that are used to gather information about you just from your resume and cover letter.  In the software QA world, everything you do from the time that you apply for the job all the way through the interview process is evaluated to determine if you have the QA skills needed for the position you are applying for.

Happy job hunting!!