Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Do QA Tools Engineers Still Exist?

The primary position I'm recruiting for right now is a QA tools engineer. This is turning out to be really hard to even get close to and I'm not totally sure why. There seem to be a number of factors that are making this one particularly difficult.

QA Tools Engineer is a development position.
I know this is in the QA group, but it's a development position. The only difference is that instead of developing a server logging module inside our product, you're developing a test logging module inside our test infrastructure. It still has to handle a lot of traffic (on the order of 1 TB a day, for this particular example), and it still needs to be very robust. It just doesn't sound quite right. This isn't a QA engineer working on tools. This is an engineer that happens to write tools.

QA Automation Engineer <> QA Tools Engineer
This one is particularly bad with recruiters. The keywords are "develop", "infrastructure", and "QA". You put those all in a pot together and sometimes you come out with different things. There's the QA Automation Engineer, who basically writes automated tests all day. Use of QTP or WinRunner is common, as is use of scripts (either inherited or home-grown). Then there's the QA Tools Engineer, who is a developer that just happens to write tools that are used in testing.

Perl has multiple uses.
Once you've overcome all the other problems, you still have to worry about the technologies. Our test infrastructure is written mostly in Perl, so I'm looking for someone strong in Perl and particularly in Object-Oriented Perl.  But Perl has two common uses in QA: for test scripts, and for infrastructure and frameworks. We want the latter. The problem is that the resume generally only includes a vague phrase like "wrote Perl to do X". So you have to screen a lot of scripters out to get to the infrastructure/framework developers.

So this is your test script hammer:

And when you bang it, it squeaks.

And this is your infrastructure hammer:

And when you bang it, the nail goes into the board further.

We want to drive in a nail, but asking for a hammer is resulting in a lot of squeaking and a little bit of nail movement.

I haven't come up with a solution to that one yet.

So my question to you all: do QA tools engineers still exist? If you know one (or you are one), email me! I've got an awesome job for you.

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