Still Life

A Series of Mental Snapshots

It’s only a job title… right?

Posted by Steve on May 15, 2008

I have recently been putting quite a bit of thought into job titles and have come to somewhat of an impasse. Recently I said I would help revamp a job posting for the test coop position, and one of the road blocks that I have hit is what to put in the title. The posting is for the waterloo coop system and it would be an understatement to say that the system is less than ideal. There are two things about it that make a title so important:

1. The time window that a job posting is up is about 3 days and there are LOTS of jobs, enough that you cannot see them all in that short time period, thus the job title has to catch a potential coops attention if you want lots of applicants.
2. The only real way to do a search on the jobs is by job title; it is not possible to search what the actual posting says, thus the only way to try and pinpoint jobs you might want is by title

Well it’s just a title right? It shouldn’t be that hard to make one that is appealing; in most cases that might be true, but because this is a test position it is a little more difficult; unfortunately, especially in the coop program, Test (or QA) has a very bad rep, and rightfully so in some cases. I personally have worked a terrible Test coop job, we were glorified typing monkeys, I was given a very rigid test plan to go through that consisted of about 200 tests, and by the end I had done some of them up to 30-40 times! Furthermore creativity was also pretty much discouraged, going outside of our area was frowned upon and to top it off developers didn’t think much of testers, that basically saw us as a walking, typing monkey. So because of this experience I can sympathize with those who fear that testing job, because it is difficult to know if it will be good or not.

In getting back to the job title, I was considering if there was a way to put less emphasis on test in the title, so that people will actually look further into the job, and not disregard it simply based on the fact that the word test is in the title. I thought about it for a while, and decided that there would be no real way to represent this job properly without having test in the title, but I did come up with an idea that would actually represent the job better and might appeal to more people,

Software Testing and Development Specialist

Now the specialist might not be in the final rendition, but I think the development is actually an important thing to put in the title. The job definitely has room for development, and it something that seems to interest a lot of people and it demonstrates that the job is multi faceted.

I was contemplating putting this up or not, simply because it’s a very specific problem for me, but I figured heh why not!

An annoying problem can often be seen as an interesting challenge, as with many things in life, it’s all about perception.


2 Responses to “It’s only a job title… right?”

  1. I wrote about the titles issue in this month’s installment of “Peak Performance” on where I discuss the frequently erroneous and often grandiose titles software testers have on their business cards or in their e-mail SIGs. Identity crisis or delusions of grandeur?. I think you and your readers might find it interesting.


    Scott Barber
    President & Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus, Inc.
    Vice President & Executive Director, Association for Software Testing
    “If you can see it in your mind…
         you will find it in your life.”

  2. Steve said

    Hey Scott,

    I read your article and found it interesting, and really along the same lines as to how I think about job titles. I think that job titles, at least in the software world, are not that useful, at least without further explanation. Maybe a better thing to ask rather than what someones job title is, would be a short description of what they do on a daily basis, although this is a more difficult question to answer.

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