Monday, 23 August 2010

Sun, Sea, Sand or Success……?



As we are in the middle of the holiday season, I am quite interested in hearing people's thoughts on the effects that this period has on current projects. In my experience, there is usually a dip in the market place around mid July to the end of September, Easter and Christmas. Here at Sanderson we have seen a small slow down in the amount of contractors being hired in the testing space but nothing too dramatic.

As a recruiter, I would like to know what happens on projects during this period. Do managers make the decision to have a slow period where activity can take a break or do they hire short term contractors prior to the Summer to make allowances for permanent employees?

These questions also raises another issue. If you are a contractor when should you take holiday? I know there are a high number of variables such as school holidays and various others but should a contractor take time off during a contract, if it is initially only 3- 6 months of work?

What I am suggesting might be seen as a bit controversial, however there is method in my suggestions. I really am interested in hearing both sides of the argument. Over the last three months, over 80% off the requirements released have requested that the successful candidates have no planned time-off. If this is the common thought throughout the market, I would like my team to be educating our future contractor population on this matter thus giving them the best opportunity of successfully obtaining the best contracts.

All views welcome!

Mark

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

2010 – A game of two halves?


As we approach the 2010 half time whistle, I thought I'd write a little update on what's been happening so far and the changes that are expected to happen in the second half of the year.

The trends occuring within the first half of 2010 were almost at a polar opposite to what was happening around the same time in 2009. Recruitment for testing resource has continued to increase month on month. From a recruiters point of view, this has been fantastic and here at Sanderson we've had a good level of success. This has been down to a number of reasons; our core house account business have been busy and we have won a number of key new clients. The hard work that our team put into 2009 has ensured that we have strong relationships with quality applicants and has enabled us to successfully place these candidates into exciting new projects.

As a recruiter, 2010 has also brought new challenges. A year ago, live work was thin on the ground and excellent available applicants were plentiful but now the situation has reversed. Due to market demands, there are very few good quality applicants now available. This is having a number of effects. Recruiters' networking skills are having to drastically improve on both sides of the fence and clients are now waiting for up to four weeks for the right candidate. Within the last two months our testing team has placed over five test analysts that have come from a permanent role – a coincidence? I think not.

I am interested to hear people’s thoughts on whether they think 2010 is going to be a game of two halves? Are we going to see a continuation of the confidence that the market has shown in the last six months? Or will there be a more hesitant approach by companies as they see wait to see what financial proposes the new elected government are going to make?

I look forward to your comments and on a final note....Good luck England!!

Cheers,

Mark

Monday, 19 April 2010

A Growing Demand for ISEB in the IT Testing Market - Are you Qualified?


Confidence is returning to the contract market and my clients’ expectations have quite rightly increased. With a surplus of candidates available, hiring managers are demanding the very best test resource the market can offer.

As well as asking that perspective candidates meet at least 80% of the required skills, I have found that managers are now, more than ever, requiring testers to have passed at least a foundation level of the ISEB accreditation.

Within the testing population, I estimate that there is a 60/40 split in favour of people successfully passing the exam. However, a common reply to Are you ISEB certified? from those within the uncertified camp is simply, “I have never needed to take it, I have over X amount of years of commercial experience.”

I would really like to know people’s thoughts, firstly on the ISEB Qualification itself:

Is it worthwhile? What are the positives and are there any negatives?

In terms of the job market, having the qualifications won’t hurt your chances. There are a number of testers who are completely new to the profession and I recognise that the foundation ISEB is used as a basic introduction of new testers to the testing arena, giving them knowledge of basic terms, some introduction to main practices, and types of available tools. I also have clients that will prefer candidates with the Practioner level rather than the Foundation level and if you picked up some new knowledge in the Foundation course then you'll probably pick up some more in the Intermediate/Practioner courses. But that is not to say that you can't pick up the knowledge in other ways or that obtaining the qualification will make you a better tester…

Which raises the following questions:

Do ISEB certifications represent an accurate assessment of ability?

Do you think that if you are running a business as a testing contractor it should be a pre- requisite to take at least the foundation level?

If you don’t have an ISEB qualification, should you be disqualified from consideration or acceptance for a job in software testing?

From a recruiters point of view it definitely gives me a certain amount of confidence when presenting an ISEB qualified candidate to a client. However, I would really like to learn more about your own views and personal experiences on this subject. All comments welcome!

Speak Soon,

Mark

Monday, 1 March 2010

An Upturn in the Testing Market?


The end of January saw the UK economy grow for the first time in six quarters, signalling what is being dubbed the end of the recession. The question on my minds is how will this affect the testing market specifically? Has the dawn of 2010 brought a new lease of life into the testing market?

Here at Sanderson, we have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of demand for testing contract resource. The growth of IT contracting positions has grown as a result of the recession and not in spite of it. There is a need for highly skilled professionals, who will not require in depth training, nor the overheads associated with permanent staff, so the obvious solution is to outsource IT development and business analyst roles to independent IT contractors.

This is fantastic news but it also creates a few important questions to consider. Do you think this upturn in the market is just a temporary one or have we seen the last of the recession within the IT/Testing market? My personal view is that there is every reason to be positive, however, we should proceed with caution. 12 months ago, companies were either cancelling projects or asking the contractors to take rate cuts anywhere between five and 20%. A year has passed and now I am having very different conversations with contractors. Buoyed by increased resurgence in demand, many are now asking for rate increase upon extensions or higher rates when applying for new opportunities.

I think this uncertain period should be a time for consolidation. If a contractor’s role has changed to take on more responsibility then I agree that individual should be compensated for this. However, it is my belief that right now is not the best time to try and claw back all the money you lost in 2009. Here at Sanderson it is benefit us as a business if we get higher rates for our contractors because we profit from the margin on top. However, in a market where the global financial crisis is a not so distant memory, we need to look at the bigger picture. To continue to have success in 2010, 2011 and beyond we should be playing the ‘long game’.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Off Shore Testing


As I made reference to in my last blog, I have seen a number of high profile financial clients recruit large numbers of testing resource recently. Is this an indication that clients are beginning to think that off shoring large programmes of work is not necessarily a commercially successful thing to do?

As a recruiter, I have often been told over the last couple of years that projects have been off shored. My usual response was, "it must be down to cost" and I never thought much more of it. However, I am interested to learn more about what off shoring a project actually means, how this is done and what implications does it have on the staff that are on shore for the project?

I would like to hear from people within the market to learn what the positive and negatives around off shoring projects are. With the recent announcement from the government that we are now slowly coming out of the recession, will this signal an end to testing projects being off shored?

Thursday, 14 January 2010

2010: Time for a Testing Shake-Up?


I am a recruitment consultant who has specialised in the Testing Market for what feels like 20 million years…possibly more. Having worked at Sanderson for five of these, I decided it was time I started a blog to impart a bit of knowledge (as well as find some answers to a few burning questions of my own!) Given that the world of testing can be simultaneously bizarre, incestuous and ever changing, I thought it would be useful to share some of my own musings and hopefully get some feedback from the testing community.

As I am constantly in touch with contractors, hiring managers and industry leaders I get a pretty good idea of what’s going on in the testing world from all angles. Hopefully this blog will keep you up-to-date on the changing trends within the market as well as opening up discussions for everyone in this sector.

Here’s something I’ve noticed lately to start us off…

2010: Time for a Testing Shake-Up?

Interesting, here in the South West, the major financial players such as Nationwide, Zurich, AXA and Lloyds have recently initiated large testing programmes or are about to start in Q1 in 2010. Historically, the majority of testing contractors have been sourced from pools of experienced circuiteers who hop from one financial house to another. However, with the recent downturn, I have seen a shift that may signal a significant change within the marketplace. Speaking to a hiring manager who had a live vacancy this month, I was asked to send ‘new blood candidates.’

I am really interested in hearing people’s thoughts on this - is now the time to bring in new faces or should we stick with tried and tested reliable individuals? Do the current predictions of a fragile recovery for 2010 mean that decision-makers should be making sure they have the most experienced staff in the right roles to effectively to move a business forward? Or is it important that companies start to invest time and energy into recruiting and training employees of the future?