Resume tips when applying for an SDET job

I’ve been a Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET) for 15 years. I’ve interviewed many people and seen many resumes. Now, as a manager with 3 open SDET positions1, I see a lot of resumes every day. Here are some tips when applying for an SDET job.

Be a tester; have test experience

I can’t tell you how many resumes I’ve seen for developers applying for an SDET position. Pretty much by definition, developers aren’t testers. That isn’t to say that developers can’t test, or testers can’t develop, but the skill set and approach of the two are very different. If you are applying for an SDET position and the words ‘test’ or ‘validate’ do not appear prominently in your resume, you’re probably applying for the wrong job.

Demonstrate test methodologies

Your resume should communicate that you understand test methodologies and that you come from a culture of test. What type of testing have you done (unit, functional, system, integration, regression, performance)? Do you understand the software development process? Call out automation that you’ve done and the bugs exposed or time saved. Tell me how much you love breaking things and representing the customer.

Have development skills

The ‘D’ in SDET is for development — you need to have some development experience. If a company is hiring SDETs it’s because they are looking at people to write and develop automated tests and tools for automated tests to use. SDETs are not hired to be manual testers or push buttons, they’re hired to write automated tests to break the heck out of things. I want to see some software development experience on a resume and know what languages you are familiar with.

Write tests or tools/frameworks?

If you are an SDET that likes to write test automation frameworks, call that out on your resume as some SDET jobs are looking for more tools- and framework- oriented people. If you like to write automated tests and actively break things, call that out on your resume.

Most of the time I’m hiring for an SDET, I’m looking for them to write automated tests, not frameworks. Both are perfectly valid skills, but make sure it’s clear where your skill set lies and be upfront with how that matches with the position.

Make your platform experience clear

Just because you are a rockstar SDET on Windows doesn’t mean you necessarily have the skills needed to be a rockstar SDET for an embedded-Linux device. Similarly, if you have extensive experience writing system integration tests for Linux distros doesn’t mean you know a hill of beans about the same for Windows 10.

Your resume should be very clear about which platforms you have experience with and which ones you’ve simply used.

Overall resume tips

These tips aren’t specific to SDET positions, but they’re worth calling out:

  • Any link you put on your resume is fair game to be viewed.
  • If you have a LinkedIn profile, assume I will search for it and look at it. I will not find you on Facebook or do a Google search for your name, but I assume your LinkedIn profile is there to present your professional image to the world and it should not contradict your resume.
  • If at all possible, provide your resume in PDF format. That’s the only way to guarantee that the way it looks on your screen is the same as it looks on mine. There can be huge differences when I open up your .docx resume on my Fedora desktop in LibreOffice with no Microsoft fonts compared to how you meant for it to be viewed on your Windows machine in Office.
  • If you’re not already friends with a technical writer, make friends with one and ask them to look over your resume in exchange for buying them lunch; their feedback will make your resume stand out from the crowd. Tech writers are amazing people and knowing them will enrich your career and your life.
  • Spell check your resume. The number of resumes with horrendously misspelled words is, frankly, sad. I don’t expect it to be perfect, but misspelling ‘validation’ is not going to impress me (and yes, that’s happened).

More?

Fellow SDETs and test managers, what do you look for on a resume? What do you like to call out on yours?


1 This post contains my own opinions and does not reflect those of my employer, because everyone is paranoid around lawyers.

Published by

cpeel

I'm Casey Peel, a software validation manager with Spaceflight Industries in Seattle, WA. Space, the final frontier! I volunteer as a developer and system administrator at Distributed Proofreaders, the largest contributor of public domain ebooks to Project Gutenberg.

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