I was going to use this blog to reflect on some goal setting for the year ahead but I didn’t achieve any of the goals I had set out last year. Im summary last year I said I’d do:
Beat the overweight label
Release a mobile app
Start a podcast
Pay off half of my credit card debt
Practice 4 magic ceremonies
I didn’t achieve any of these things but I still had an ok year and survived a pandemic. So instead of setting goals I’m going to set intentions.
I intend to be the best version of me for the next year. What do these intentions look like?
Continue therapy with my psychologist
Continue saving towards a house deposit
Continue paying off debt (I’ll get to 5k outstanding by the end of 2021 based on current rates, today it’s 15K outstanding)
Maintain a healthy lifestyle (climbing and running both 3 times a week)
Setting the bar low
By setting an intention to be my best me I’m already doing an awesome job and we are only 3 days into the new year.
The rest of the year still has too many questions for me to be able to set anything more. I’d still like to lose weight and beat the overweight label but I don’t care if I don’t achieve that this year. Surviving and looking after my health is more important than the number I see when I step on the scales.
I still want to write a book and release an app but again I’m not going to beat myself up this year if I don’t do them. I’ve always had a tendancy to over load my plate too much. Study + Work is already going to be plenty too much for me.
I’d like to try a different role this year, I’m leaning towards UX researcher but it’s also not the end of the world if this doesn’t happen either. Maintaining a job so I can continue to pay down debt is more important.
So yeah, I’ll set intentions this year and see how that goes. I’ve felt like 2020 was a shitty year but I did also learn some things about myself too.
It has embed links and is very brief. It has a visual timeline at the top with recent experience. If you want more information about my work history you can always check out my LinkedIn. I don’t need my entire work history on my resume.
The 2 Page CV
I use this CV (PDF) when I feel like the 1 pager is too experimental. However the job application process is broken and resume’s aren’t all that useful. They are just a token part of the job application process. I’ve gotten my last 3 job offers by networking, speaking and meetup events and blogging.
There are many forms of discrimination you could face when you are looking for work or in the workplace. Whether it’s based on;
Many of these forms of discrimination are illegal in many countries. Hiring Managers/Recruiters who work in Human Resources departments (HR) know how to protect their companies from potential lawsuits, so they won’t be directly discriminatory to your face. However you still might face indirect discrimination.
This blog post is a deep dive into the the subtleties of discrimination so you can be more aware of it during the job hunting process. Topics covered include:
Women still face discrimination in the tech industry. Trans folk even more so. I read a story about a female to male transition for a tech support worker. When he transitioned he visited an old client to help fix a computer. The client thought it was a new person and complained about how the women who use to help fix their computer didn’t know anything about tech. It was the exact same person.
Here’s another story about how a Husband came to understand the discrimination his Wife and Business Partner faces on a daily basis.
In my early career I avoided using my full name (Samantha Connelly) on my CV because of the gender association. If you look at my old 2014 CV, I have S. Connelly as my name.
Now that I have a reputation in the industry, I can’t hide my gender. I’m a little gender queer in my representation and could easily go by Sam (he/him) but I don’t suffer from gender dysphoria and don’t have a strong desire to change. I will remain female because I’m comfortable in my own skin (CIS). Also men’s fashion isn’t as fun as women’s fashion.
I use to be 127kg (that’s 280 pounds for my US readers and 20 stone for my UK readers). I’m now around 83kg, at 160cm tall this still puts me in the Obese category. I had always grown up being the fat kid. I had weight loss surgery (gastric sleeve) in 2016.
People tend to think fat people are lazy and unmotivated. Back when I was fatter and saw someone else who was even larger, I use to thing, “well at least I’m not that fat”, but I’ve seen my mindset change first hand. I now have the same knee jerk, “ew, gross” reaction as everyone else.
Fatness itself is generally not cause for legal discrimination (unless it’s classified as a disability), however overweight people are less likely to be promoted to leadership positions because they are seen as less competent.
When was the last time you saw a fat leader in a tech company? That weight loss surgery has probably already paid for itself based on my increased in potential earning capacity and more leadership opportunities.
They thought I had been fired because of my history of mental health impacting my performance. At the time I was recovering from a broken ankle and I had presented to the whole company about my struggles with depression.
However, the reason why I was let go was a mismatch of skills and expectations. It was an experimental Quality Coach role, through hiring me they discovered they actually wanted someone to help grow the test automation framework for the C# backend. This wasn’t my strength and we broke up on good terms.
Through my career coaching sessions and leading Sydney Testers over the last 4 years, I’ve spoken to many people who are looking for their first job here in Australia. They often get rejected for not having any “local experience”. I view this as a form of discrimination. It’s an excuse to not consider you as a candidate.
I can’t blame hiring managers for taking this mental shortcut. When you are dealing with 100’s of applicants and you want to get the list down to 4 to interview, you take many shortcuts to get there.
I have no idea how other people over come other forms of discrimination (like agism and racism). But this blog is full of stories of things I’ve tried or heard that can help people put their best foot forward during the job hunting process.
If you’re an older disabled fat black mother working in tech good luck out there because society isn’t on your side.
At the end of Buddha in Testing, Pradeep asks the reader to co-author the next chapter with him. So this blog post is my attempt at writing part of Chapter 5 of this book:
What is the chaos that surrounds you in testing?
Write now, during the pandemic a lot of people have been made redundant and are struggling to find work. I’m lucky enough that my day job isn’t all that chaotic, which is a good thing. The mobile app I’m working on is doing pretty well. I wouldn’t want to be dealing with a stressful work load on top of everything else.
What is my contribution?
I put together a software testers career cheatsheet to help anyone whose struggling to find work right now. After having career coaching sessions with a bunch of people, a few themes came to light. I got the inspiration to do a video series on those points. I found out it makes for great marketing content.
What situations have put you out of calmness?
Last weekend I recorded 7 career tip videos in one weekend. I was burnt out by Monday and a blubbery, teary mess. I couldn’t focus on work and took the day off to mentally recharge. I told twitter I was out of spoons.
How did you bring peace?
Walking around the city, listening to podcasts and shopping in second hand clothes stores was how I recharged. I even had a beer in a sports bar at lunch and watched some cricket (England vs West Indies) :
What answers are you searching for?
Satisfaction in life. I’m over software testing. I’m starting a graduate diploma in financial advice next week because I have an idea to disrupt the retirement funds industry here in Australia. Making retirement funds easier is something I can get behind.
How will you recognise the peace?
I enjoy adding value to other people. It’s a huge driver to most of what I do. I miss the constant interaction with people from my shop assistant days. If money/labour wasn’t a drawback I’d prefer to work in a supermarket over most of the testing roles I’ve had. With my history of depression, I don’t think I’d ever achieve peace but I can be more content with life.
I’m now outta steam
I could continue answering the questions but I think I’m going to leave it there. How would you answer some of these questions?
I recently posted on LinkedIn that I had been in software testing for 8-9 years and was thinking of a career change. Maybe financial advice could be an interesting path?
Now this isn’t me starting a career change just yet, but I’m looking into the process.
Where can I go in my current role?
I see atleast two ways foward if I remain on the software tester path. Either focus on technical mobile automation skills; becoming a principal software engineer in test so to say or try to move towards leadership. I’m not super keen for any of these paths. I could move into consulting but I feel like there’s a lot of competition in this space already. Software testing is a hard sell.
I’d like to run my own business
I’ve always felt like a bit of a misfit culturally speaking to some degree in most of my roles. My behaviour and values haven’t always aligned in a corporate sense. I’ve always had a desire to create my own culture, it’s hard to not fit in when it’s your own doing.
Growing up poor
My family background has influenced me towards wanting to run my own business. My dad use to work in a sawmill earning minimum wage, after a sawmill accident and a workers compensation payout he started his own business doing garden and home maintenance. He’s an aussie success story. I’ve felt like working for yourself can give you more success and satisfation with your career.
Why the finance direction?
Eventually I’d like to build out digital focused experiences to help people navigate things like pensions. Many of the products on the market aren’t easy to navigate. However building up a base of clients in the mean time could be a way to get there and earn a living. I’ve recently started blogging more about finance too.
What about other paths?
I’ve considered data science as a path, I’ve applied for an internal data analyst role with my current company because I’ve recently enjoyed building out a mobile app analytics dashboard for my team. I’m going to keep my eyes open to trying new things within my current situation before completely jumping ship.
Marketing and sales has been great fun to learn about, a masters in business administration could be interesting. I had considered applying for technical Sales Engineers roles if my current job had fallen through.
I do have an app I’m trying to build and I’d like to use it to help teach people better ways of doing software and quality. I could focus on creating workshops and consulting around it more too. However education and training is also a hard sell.
This is all still 2-3 years off
I currently have some credit card debt left to pay off and I’m opting for a stable job that I know how to do in the meantime until my debts are paid off. A diploma in financial advice will take 2 years part time to complete and I haven’t event started it yet. I might look into starting it next year if it’s still an appealing option by then.
This is not my first career change
I worked in supermarkets for 7 years during highschool and university. Mostly in the deli area but I did the occaisional check out chic role too. If money wasn’t a driving factor I would still be working in a supermarket; I was hardly bored, enjoyed serving customers and felt more engaged compared to most of my tech roles.
I got into tech because I wanted something that was a bit more related to my degree compared to the supermarket work. A part time testing gig during uni was the first tech role I got. I’ve generally stuck with software testing since.
Have you ever made a career change?
What was your thought process? Did you go for education first or did you jump straight into a new role? How did you decide the new career path was something you wanted to try?
Let me tell you a story of how I got my role at one of Australia’s big four banks. Back when I was last job hunting, I had a few different leads come about from networking at meetup events and this bank wasn’t my first choice.
I had another Job Offer
My trip up to Newcastle to present at the Newcastle coders group had lead to job offer from a startup. The job offer was a mobile app team lead to a potential head of engineering upgrade career path. It was a super exciting offer and after chatting to my partner about it (they weren’t super happy) I signed the job offer.
Moving to Newcastle
I gave notice to my house mate, my previous contract and my community. I had arranged a few inspections and had put down a rental deposit on a new apartment up that way and had my heart set on living a 20 minute walk from walk, a 15 minute walk from the beach and a 5 minute walk from a brewery. All for less than $350 per week rent for a 2 bedroom apartment right in the centre of Newcastle. I had my priorities straight 😆 .
Then it all fell through
2 weeks before moving, the startup calls me up and cancels my employment contract. The level of transperancy I practice personally was a culture fit concern. Apparently someone on the board spoke to a previous colleague while doing “extra background checks” and my history of depression and performance came up. It’s not like I publicly speak and blog about these struggles. But they didn’t want to hire someone with this history. However the formal reason for cancelling the contract was for “culture fit” reasons.
This was over a phone conversation with one of the founders of the startup so the termination reason was never written down formally. I’m on good terms with the founder, they were annoyed with this decision but there wasn’t anything either of us could really do.
I think someone had spoken to a colleague who didn’t have the full context of why I left a previous role. The role didn’t suit my skills and expertise.
Where as from the outside, it looked like my broken leg blues was impacting my performance. Now it did impact my engagement but it wasn’t the reason for the departure. you can read more about that story here.
Mental Health Discrimination
If you feel like you’ve been unfairly dismissed or discriminated against, you have a few options. I had a chat to a fair work lawyer, they believed I had a valid case but because I hadn’t started employment there wasn’t a lot of financial reimbursement I could claim and their fee was $7000.
Claiming Unfair Dismissal
You can claim on your own with no lawyers fees but it’s harder if you chose to self represent. Also you have to let the fair work ombudsman know within 21 days of being dismissed. I let that time window pass. You can claim a few other ways too, one way has a 6 month time frame and another is within 12 months with the human rights commission. *
*Disclaimer; I might have some of these facts mixed up and this is not legal advice. Please reach out to a lawyer for further clarification
Opting out of unfair dismissal
I opted to not go down the unfair dismissal route. The startup had reimbursed me the direct expenses I had already paid with the move (my rental deposit and inspection fees), so there wasn’t much else I could claim except for the lapse in work/stress from moving because I now had to find a new job and move (my house mate had already found a new room mate and I couldn’t undo that). I didn’t feel all that hard done by and felt like they had already made fair reimbursements.
The only other reason I’d want to pursue the case is because I’d want people to acknowledge that mental health is important and it’s illegal to discriminate on this basis.
Rekindled previous leads
After the Newcastle job fell through, I rekindled all of the previous job leads I had. The original job at this bank I had interviewed with had been filled but there was another mobile QA engineer related role with another team that had just opened up. My details were passed along to someone else on the Talent Acquisition team. I did have to redo the 2 stage interview process again but it was a successful process this time round.
Moving and the new job
In the end, it all worked out for the better. I moved into my own 2 bedroom apartment in Crows Nest which had even cheaper rent than my last place (it wasn’t as cheap as Newcastle) and ended up with a job with this bank with a higher salary package compared to what the start up was offering. I’m still on a mobile team and I’m working on an interesting product. I have a financial update here if you are interested in reading more about my current state of affairs.
My partner is happier with this option and I can continue to do all of the awesome event based stuff I’ve been doing for Sydney Testers and YOW! Conference. I really dodged a bullet, I wouldn’t have wanted to work for a company where people didn’t like my transparency.
I’ve also written about fatness and bias before. This doesn’t constitute illegal discrimination under Australian law but it’s another story of how society can feel like it treats us unfairly.
My CV has evolved a bit over the years. But there have also been a few constants too. I’ve always tried to keep my CV under 2 pages, my most recent one is 1 page with embedded links, it’s a little experimental and it’s more like a portfolio.
2020-06-26 Update: My 2014 to 2017 resume’s were previously hosted on my old website, samanthaconnelly.com (which has an expired SSL certificate). They are now hosted on this domain, so they will be easier to view and quicker to download.
I used this CV to apply for my role at Tyro, it was created using Word and it’s interesting to read over how I presented myself 4 years ago. This was my first attempt at putting the 5 c’s of testing on my profile.
This is when I started experimenting with the 1 page CV idea, using Canva (an online designer’s tool). I was told somewhere that dates didn’t matter as much as duration. I used this CV to get my role at EPAM Systems. I still have the 5 ‘c of testing but I’ve replaced crazy with coding. I still really like this one.
This is a 2 page CV that I used to help me get my role at Campaign Monitor. It went through a few iterations and I had a few other ideas in how to tweak/and experiment with it. I like the visual skills but not everyone else in the industry likes this.
1 page vs 2 pages?
How many pages in your cv is hugely contested. Some recent studies indicate 2 pages are preffered over 1 page. I actually have both because different recruiters/managers will have different preferences. It’s good to have CV’s for different situations.
The whole point of a CV is to make you seem like an interesting enough person to invite into for an interview. Think of it as a user interface with that whole purpose in mind. How can you simplify the data and layout to make it easier to read?
I’ve been job hunting more than I’d like to count (4 times in the last 2 years if you really must know). With my recent round of efforts I have NOT heard back from a single application through the online Job Advertisment process (Seek and LinkedIn job ads). However I’ve had 9 leads come up from my network. I do not have a lack of options for work but the Job Ad route is completely broken.
Here are my 9 leads for work and how they’ve come about. The TLDR: networking is really important and the job application process is broken.
IRESS is a financial markets, wealth management, and mortgage advice platform company. One of their leads internarnally had seen my profile on linkedIn as “open for oppurtunities” and put my name foward for a testing role there. The interview went well and there office was cool but I was exploring a few other leads and this didn’t feel like the right direction for me.
Saw this tweet and reached out. I had recently applied for an IT support role in Antarctica and so the idea of moving into support was on my mind. Fat Zebra is an online payments company in Surrey Hills. It looks like a pretty cool company. I’ve met the team and they seem to be doing some cool things. I don’t know if there is great alignment with my skills and what that company needs right now. They also have an open security role and an open tester role.
I’m now a part time developer evangalist for YOW! Conference which I’m super excited about. Basically I get paid to attend tech meetup events around Sydney when I promote the YOW! Conferences. I was at a meetup event, thinking, “I’d really like one of those developer advocate roles“, so I reached out to someone who use to work for YOW! and she said, “Reach out to Michele“. I sent Michele an email asking about the role and bam, next thing I know I’d been accepted under the YOW! banner as a developer evangalist.
Stephen sent me an email about this role. It sounds like Dolby are doing some super exciting stuff with realtime video/audio preocessing for mobile apps. If I wasn’t actively purseuing a few other leads I’d apply but right now I don’t have the capacity to do it.
This is one of my more exciting leads. Mobile testing is my speciality and I’m leaning towards a Software Engineer in Test type of role in either financial services or mobile apps (or both huzzah). I found out about this role because I presented at the Cocoaheads meetup and had a beer with the organiser afterwards. Turns out his team is looking for a QA Engineer. I’ve got an interview scheduled this Friday.
6. Startup – Tech Lead
A mobile app start up. I was approached by the co-founder of a startup last week about a potential tech lead role. It seems super exciting. The only reason why this lead has come about is because I went up to Newcastle last week to present at the Newcastle Coders meetup group.
I saw someone post an ad on an slack community I’m part of (Girl Geek Dinner Sydney). Equal Experts is a network of Contractors who do consulting work on different projects. It’s very similar to my current position but more organised. You can join the slack if you a woman in tech based in Sydney:
8. Readinow – Quality Coach
This might be a short term engagement. I’m having a meeting with the Director this week. My main concern is the job is pretty far out of the CBD.
Someone reac hed out to me over email over this one. If I didn’t have other leads or my heart set on Mobile Testing I would take up this role. I’ve enjoyed doing test environment support before.
I got my current role because I offered a free lunchtime learning session for Challenger from a tweet from one of their employees. My previous job made me redundant and Challenger said to me, “we enjoyed your lunchtime learning session, come in for a contract”. Again working my network to be in my favour.
Networking is super important and the job application process is completely broken. I’m super excited for a few job leads I’ve got going but I didn’t apply to any of them. Not even my beautifully crafted 1 page CV gets through the job ad application process.