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How to Recruit the Next Generation of Load and Performance Testers

In the IT world, the demand for highly skilled software engineers continues to grow

Last month, I went to my engineering school, where I graduated 15 years ago, to attend the Annual Gala. While there, I met a few young engineers who asked about my job. This raised a question: "What would make them join my team?"

In the IT world, the demand for highly skilled software engineers continues to grow as application development becomes an integral part of more and more businesses around the globe. As more and more applications are highly connected and have strong SLAs and are addressing sensitive business issues, the demand for load and performance testers also grows.

Companies have been using creative techniques like using Big Data, Twitter and gamification to find top tech talent, but how do you get talented young engineers to 1) be interested in load testing and 2) want to work at your company in your team?

1) Build an environment that suits Generation Y:
I'm not talking about providing gourmet meals around the clock, video game rooms, free massages, or a coffee-dispensing robot - although that might not hurt. I am talking about the technical environment in which your engineers have to work and the tools they have to use. In a nutshell, do not expect a 25-year-old engineer to work with a 25-year-old piece of software. They have been using the Internet since they could reach a keyboard. They started university with Facebook and most can't remember the Internet before Google. They have heard of neither Kernighan nor Ritchie.

For recruiting new load testers, this means using modern load and performance testing tools that do not require a black belt in C just to design a simple test. The next time you are looking at testing tools and think you can't afford them, consider how much you will be able to save by easing the recruiting process for new testers. I'll bet that didn't show up in your TCO calculation.

2) Promote load testing as a cool discipline:
Load testing used to be a discipline only for the most technical "root" guys who were better at talking to machines than humans and counted robot sheep in binary when they had trouble sleeping at night. It's not very easy to convince a younger generation of engineers to start a career in a field with those kinds of stereotypes. Fortunately, the load and performance testing world has changed, and we should promote to junior engineers what's so cool about it:

  • Cutting-edge technologies: Load testers are always in front of new technologies specifically because people are always concerned about how new technologies will affect performance. It's not as much of a concern for older technologies. In 15 years of load testing, I have never written a single line of Cobol or PL-SQL, and I can live with this.
  • Project diversity: As load testing typically involves shorter testing missions of a few days on a single project, there are usually lots of opportunities to work on lots of different projects. This allows load testers to quickly gain a lot of knowledge about various environments in a short amount of time. They rapidly increase their technical acumen.
  • Insights firsts: Developers working on product code can spend about 80% of their time fixing code written by someone else, and in most cases, written years ago. In load testing, you design some tests, run them and often never see them again. What's more permanent is the insight you deliver to the team after the tests, not the assets themselves.
  • Increased power: Load testers analyze applications, look at the work others have done, and find the use cases that will make the system crash. It is not a question of if the system will crash; rather it's a question of how many minutes it will take you to make the system crash.

For those of us who have been in the load and performance testing discipline for a while, we have a responsibility to prepare the next generation of load testers and provide the tools they will need to be successful. One of the reasons I like working at Neotys is the passion everyone shares to develop tools that are easy to use and learn.

All of you senior testers and performance center managers, what are you doing to prepare your succession plan? How do you hunt and onboard the right people to be the next generation of performance engineers? I would love to hear your advice and questions.

More Stories By Hervé Servy

Hervé Servy is a Senior Performance Engineer at Neotys. He has spent 10 years working for IBM-Rational and Microsoft pre-sales and marketing in France and the Middle East. During the past 3 years, as a personal project, Hervé founded a nonprofit organization in the health 2.0 area. If that isn’t techie enough, Hervé was also born on the very same day Apple Computer was founded.

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