Friday, 1 February 2008

ISEB testing certification, fear, and the hiring dilemma

At EuroSTAR 2007 Michael Bolton started the conference off with "Why I am not Certified" - Michael had obviously kept more up to date on the ISEB progress than I. I looked at the ISEB site recently, and now I feel uneasy.

I know that the people who started all this certification had 'industry' and possibly 'profession' best intentions in mind I assume that the people involved still do have those intentions.
The ISEB web site quotes one of the intentions as:
To enable software suppliers to hire certified testers and thereby gain commercial advantage over their competitors by advertising their tester recruitment policy
At EuroSTAR I held the belief that ISEB only had "foundation" and "practitioner". But I just looked and ISEB now has "foundation", "intermediate", "practitioner test manager" and "practitioner test analyst"
When I act fulfil my obligations as a hiring test manager. I don't think "you know, if only ISEB had more levels of certification then I could more easily distinguish between good candidates and bad candidates."
I don't need any more levels of certification created to meet my hiring needs. ISEB certification does not currently help my hiring needs.
Now, people obviously do get trained and certified through ISEB, and I obviously don't know their reason for doing so. This situation suggests, to me, that some sort of demand exists for the certification.
I have my suspicions that Fear produces this demand.
Fear from the testers that if they don't get the certification, then their application will not go forward to acceptance for jobs. That seems like a valid fear, because it happened with the foundation certificate in the UK testing market.
As a contractor, I encountered companies who wanted ISEB certification on my CV. I encountered agents working for companies who, on the instructions from the company, filtered out CVs on the basis of "Certified? Y/N".
I think that if job adverts start to ask for - "must have ISEB Practitioner Test Analyst" then our industry and our 'profession' will have managed to get itself in a terrible mess.
I don't just moan though. I now present an alternative for the hiring dilemma...
How about ISEB throw away the other certifications and create a certification for hiring managers? The "ISEB Foundation Certificate in Recruiting Testers".
Rather than building up an industry in certification that will eventually find its way into the hiring practices of big companies that don't know any better. Train the people doing the recruiting to recognise good testers. That sounds, to me, like a good move for the industry and in line with the BCS ISEB's charitable status to act in the public good.
But since that certificate doesn't exist - why not read...


  1. ISEB Foundation Certificate in Recruiting Testers....

    This may have been suggested in jest but it is an excellent idea. It would really help the industry (in my opinion). I do that the ISEB Foundation and for the sole purpose of it being a tick on my cv.


    Thanks for the comment Glenn. If ISEB were to do anything then I would prefer them to do this. I doubt it would make as much money though.


  2. Just my 2 cents worth, as an American working in the UK . . . I have several decades of testing experience and even a Masters of Science in QA (don't ask!) however, whenever I speak to recruiters, I am repeatedly asked 'Do you have an ISEB Foundation Certificate' even after they've seen my CV. So, after several years here, I gave in, paid the fee, and took the test. I didn't take a course, but because I'm from the 'other side of the pond' I thought it prudent to purchase the £20 ISEB Foundation book from Amazon about a month before the test. I needn't have bothered, the test was so fundamental that anyone who had read the syllabus and had any experience should have passed.

    Thanks for the comment Michelle. 'tis is a sadly unavoidable and pernicious thing.