Five habits to adopt in order to be a better software tester

No matter how many cloud services I sign up to, or organisational systems I utilise to structure my files on my local laptop. I always seem to run low on storage.

One obvious remedy to this common problem is simple to upgrade the amount of space available to me by throwing in another drive into my laptop.

But is this really a solution?

More resources may seem like a likely fix to most problems. But unless I fix how I use the storage I already have in my laptop (delete old files, uninstall programs I no longer use. Not download every meme that I come across). Then I’m not really solving anything. I’m merely patching things and delaying the problem so it now becomes something that future me needs to deal with.

Another example of this is probably familiar to us all. When our alarm clock goes off in the morning, the temptation to hit the snooze button can almost seem like a tempting solution to the constant buzzing and feeling of only wanting to get five more moments of shut-eye.

The alarm clock sounding might be your problem right now. But as soon as you hit that snooze button, it becomes a problem for future you to deal with when you wake up late for work.

To solve this, you could put your alarm clock across the room. Forcing you to get out of bed to turn the buzzing off. But then you’d be relying on your discipline to not just go back to bed and cause another problem for your future self.

Or, you could instead work on the habits to increase your chances of waking up with your alarm clock and not causing problems for yourself down the line.

Prevention is always better than cure.

This is the cornerstone philosophy behind building positive habits. If you want to be better at what you do and not leave things to discipline, or chance. Take the time to invest in yourself and build up your foundation and give yourself a better likelihood of overall future success.

But how can we take this idea and apply it to our career?

Well, at some point you’ve probably come across the saying:

“We are the sum total of our experiences. Those experiences – be they positive or negative – make us the person we are, at any given point in our lives.”

BJ Nebit

So given that idea. It’s probably safe to say the person we bring to work is also the sum of all the activities we do in our daily lives.

So to prevent ourselves from succumbing to the failures that inevitability, we will experience within our working lives. It’s critical to build up several experiences that we can not only rely on to provide us with the insight and knowledge that will become invaluable to us. But also enable us to discover more about the key skills that feed into our area of expertise and allow us to become a more rounded professional.

And the best way of doing that. Is to adopt new habits, hobbies and interests to provide you with a unique set of skills and abilities. Thus building yourself strong springboard to catapult yourself into future career success.

Here are five habits that I personally would recommend to any new, or veteran software tester. Not only will these provide you with a wide knowledge base. But they will also provide you with a depth of varied subject areas that you can draw on to solve problems, tackle issues. And break down any barriers that will stand in your way.

Be curious about all aspects of software development

Knowing the software development methodologies like waterfall, agile and DevOps will benefit your ongoing knowledge. But I find it more interesting to go deeper and really understand the details about the software development process. And I’m not just talking about the languages that used in development, although that will help. I’m more interested in the application frameworks used, the services that are being utilised and any API’s that are being consumed.

Getting comfortable wanting to know the details about the technology stack of an application will not only assist you in designing and developing your tests. But it will also help you understand the limitations of the application. And how you can integrate your testing so that you are more closely aligned with the underlying technology and ensure a more robust testing solution.

Read non-fiction books

If you want to become better at anything in your life. You can guarantee that someone has not only done want you want to do already. But they have also probably wrote about it too.

Next to software development, software testing, and watching cat videos on YouTube. Reading is my personal biggest hobby, and I put reading down to being behind the person I am today.

Whether it’s a book about military leaders, economics, mental models, or finance and business. Acquiring the positive habit to read even a few minutes a day will do wonders for not only your thinking. But also for your career and will pay dividends for years to come.

Don’t forget the soft skills

Another key habit to not neglect is the set of skills often referred to as ‘soft-skills’.

Essentially, these are defined as the combination of people skills that encompass communication, social skills. But also our attitudes and character traits.

These skills don’t come easy to most people and it is something that a lot of us need to gain through practice if we are going to not only get along with the people we work with. But also succeed in our role and enable others to feel comfortable in collaborating and working with us.

Communication is a critical skill that all software testers need to be good at. And it is often mentioned by hiring managers as the one skill which candidates need to have.

I’ve written a blog post on tips to be a better communicator here.

Question others, but also question yourself

And finally, be comfortable asking questions.

Testing is a discipline that relies on the influx of information to be successful. And even though some people may become annoyed with your ever-growing list of questions. The risk of not asking questions is in my mind a greater problem than not asking.

And as part of the questioning process. You should first start with yourself.

Question your own beliefs, your own assumptions, and your own understanding.

This not only highlights areas of misunderstanding in your own mind. But if also a great exercise to undertake to help you plan brilliant questions to ask other people.

I hope this blog post was useful to you.

Reach out to me on LinkedIn or Twitter if you have any questions. Or contact me using my contact form.

PS: I also send out a weekly newsletter which contains links to articles I’m reading, the books I’m enjoying. And other interesting content. Sign-up here if you’re interested. It’s free!

Posted by Kevin Tuck

Kevin Tuck is an ISTQB qualified software tester with nearly a decade of professional experience. Well versed in creating versatile and effective testing strategies. He offers a variety of collaborative software testing services. From managing your testing strategy, creating valuable automation assets, or serving as an additional resource.

2 Replies to “Five habits to adopt in order to be a better software tester”

  1. Kevin, this is all good advice. The only point where I disagree with you is over restricting your reading to non-fiction. Fiction has its merits, too, especially where the subject or genre either poses a question or a puzzle (detective, thrillers or science fiction), or where the setting is closely based on reality (mainly historical fiction, though techno-thrillers and science fiction can also fall into this category). These sorts of books lead to the development of mental agility and different ways of looking at things; and sometimes they can reinforce real-world knowledge. For instance, most of my knowledge of human thoracic anatomy came from reading Isaac Asimov’s ‘Fantastic Voyage’, about a group of surgeons who are miniaturised and injected into the bloodstream of an injured scientist to attack a blood clot from the inside.

    Even the most fantastic scenario in a story can throw off ideas that might lead elsewhere; and any sort of regular and extensive reading leads to your own skills in writing being honed and improved.

    (I wrote my own blog post about this last year:


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