About This Episode:
Want to know how testers’ jobs changed during the Pre-Covid, Covid, and Post-Covid eras? In this episode, Raj Subrameyer, author of the book Skyrocket Your Career, shares what you need to know to succeed in this new reality we now face. Discover why your Social Media Footprint is critical to your personal and career growth, what skills are currently in demand, and tons of actionable advice on how to bulletproof your career under any circumstance. Listen up!
The Test Guild Automation Podcast is sponsored by the fantastic folks at Sauce Labs. Try it for free today!
About Raj Subrameyer
Raj Subrameyer is an international keynote speaker, author, and tech career coach who helps people to land their dream job and become successful leaders. He has helped countless individuals discover their zone of genius and leverage it to live a life that they love. He is a sought-after speaker at various conferences and has been featured in numerous podcast and publications, including Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success and The Good Men Project. He is also the author of the new book – Skyrocket Your Career. In his spare time, he loves traveling with his family and discovering new experiences which includes craft beer. You can connect with him on twitter @epsilon11, or his website www.rajsubra.com.
Connect with Raj Subrameyer
Full Transcript Raj Subrameyer
Intro: [00:00:01] Welcome to the Test Guild Automation podcast, where we all get together to learn more about automation and software testing with your host Joe Colantonio.
Joe Colantonio: [00:00:16] Hey, it's Joe, and welcome to another episode of the Test Guild Automation podcast. Today we're talking with Raj all about the future of work. It's been nine months since we had him on the show. We got such good feedback last time, we thought we'd have him back to talk about a topic I think is going to be even more important as we enter the post-Covid type era. So if you don't know, Raj is an international keynote speaker, author, and tech career coach who helps people to land their dream job and become successful leaders. He's helped countless individuals discover their zone of genius and leverage it to live the life they love. He's a well sought-after speaker at various conferences, so you have probably seen him on multiple online and on-site events, we'll probably see him in the future as well. He's been featured in numerous podcasts and publications, including Authority magazine, Thrive Global, Addicted to Success, and The Good Men Project. He's also the author of the new book, well, it's semi-new still, Skyrocket Your Career. If you haven't picked it up yet, you definitely should and have to listen to this podcast, that would be the first takeaway I would have you do. But before we get into it, let's hear an awesome word from our sponsor. And then Raj should begin to talk about the future of testing. You don't wanna miss this episode. Check it out.
Joe Colantonio: [00:01:24] The Test Guild Automation podcast is sponsored by the fantastic folks at SauceLabs. Their cloud-based test platform helps ensure your favorite mobile apps and websites work flawlessly on every browser, operating system, and device. Get a free trial, visit TestGuild.com/SauceLabs, you click on the exclusive sponsor's section to try it for free for 14 days. Check it out.
Joe Colantonio: [00:01:52] Hey Raj, welcome back to the Guild.
Raj Subrameyer: [00:01:54] Hey, Joe, it's awesome to be back and jamming again, I've been so looking forward to our podcast episode, the last one we did, man. A lot of folks actually talking about it. And for those folks who haven't listened to our previous discussion, I would highly recommend doing that as well. But yeah, I'm really excited to be here, man.
Joe Colantonio: [00:02:13] Great to have you back. I can't believe it's been nine months. So last time you were on the show, I guess, give us an update on the book maybe, Skyrocket your Career. It's been off for nine months now, I guess, at least. And I'm just curious, any feedback you got on it any second revision you're thinking of already to add to it?
Raj Subrameyer: [00:02:27] Yeah, thanks for checking in on the book. So the book has been doing really good thanks to our testing community and the software community in general. It hit number five on the Amazon bestseller list in the jobs and careers category. And I have over one hundred and ten reviews right now, which it's unbelievable. Unbelievable. And it's been going strong. I see a lot of people being impacted by the book from, you know, job search standpoint, from interviews, salary negotiation, how that massive careers standpoint. So it's been going really well. And can I complain? And yet more. I've been working on more things, really the book. You will hear that soon. But yeah, as of now, it's been good.
Joe Colantonio: [00:03:09] Very cool, I've heard a lot of good things about the book as well. And it's an awesome book. And also I've heard a lot of good things about your coaching. I guess it's taken from the book as well. So people should check out your coaching as well. Raj, before we dive into the big topic of the future of work. Curious to know, I think you have three different areas to set it up. The first one is pre-covid, during covid, and post-covid era. So I'm curious about your take on how jobs may have changed in the pre-covid, during covid, and post-covid and how you see that all shaking out now?
Raj Subrameyer: [00:03:39] I think that's a great starting point. So during the pre-covid era, I remember those days where you had on-site interviews. Like when I went for an on-site interview, they'll fly me and give me a fancy hotel, and then, you know, I can relax. And then next day I have the whole, like three or four rounds of interviews. And then in the evening, you know, I do sightseeing and then the next day I come back. Those were really good times, but those were the pre-Covid era. And during the pre-Covid era, there were a lot of things right. For example, in terms of remote working, that was actually a luxury, not a necessity. So, in fact, you may remember Marissa Meyer, the ex-CEO of Yahoo! She had she came up five years ago or six years ago. She came up with the rule that no Yahoo employees can work from home because it's affecting productivity. And since that rule started and for three years, it continued and Yahoo! had the worst period in those three years in terms of their profit margins, right? But the point is remote working was like a luxury and then traveling. So if people used to travel all the time, the consultants, like if you work for Deloitte or other consulting firms, they constantly, you know, kept traveling three days in one location, another two days and home base that was happening. And then you also had meetings, virtual meetings were very few. Then everyone stressed on in-person meetings where they used to fly people from different areas for important team meetings. They had to have team-building activities and so on and so forth. So that was the normal work environment they were used to and then Covid happened. With Covid, everything changed. First of all, remote working, as I was saying, was not a luxury anymore, it was a necessity because the people had to stay safe, and then companies couldn't bring them in. And it was a whole thing that we all had to go through. So that's during the Covid era in terms of remote working and then virtual meetings. Have you heard of Zoom fatigue? Probably, you and I faced a lot every call. Zoom call after Zoom call, after Zoom call, after Zoom call. You get so crazy, become like a zombie by the end of the day. That's said the mental health pandemic is something which I'll touch upon in a second. But the point is, because of this, it's been really hard. Another thing is because of working from home, that line between work and personal life has become blurry. Right now it's really blurry because when it's normal work hours and minutes, normal personal hours. Right. Because the communication channels like Slack and Zoom, you're expected to be online 24/7. But that was not the case before. But now, you know, just since everything is online, their expectations are you have to always be on. And that is something people are struggling with. In fact, according to the American Psychology Association, eight in ten adults say that the pandemic has caused a significant source of stress in their lives. So that is the situation, right? And then post-Covid era and just to sum it up, post-Covid era, I think a lot of things which we have experienced are some are going to stay the same way and some we need to get used to. So, for example, remote working, you're supposed to be online 24/7 and it's affecting people's mental health. And how are you going to handle that now in the post-covid era? Because I believe we're going to have a hybrid approach where people are not going to go to work five days a week. The office spaces are also minimized right now because people are paying rent for empty offices during Covid. So people be coming to work like two times a week and then the rest three times a week. They have to stay at home. How are they going to manage their time? How are they going to manage their mental and physical health? How are they going to be productive? So those are some things which we'll talk about in a bit. But that is something I believe is going to be really relevant. And then also virtual meetings. You need to have some structure in terms of how you do Zoom meetings and virtual meetings and we'll talk about that as well. But yeah, on a high level, this is how I see things have changed in the pre-covid, during covid, and the post-covid era. And of course, we're going to talk more about the future of work and how to adapt our lives as well.
Joe Colantonio: [00:08:04] Great, great insight there. You know, just interesting. I've been remote working, I just work for a large enterprise. I've worked for only 12-13 years now, I just completely don't leave my compound at all. But I could see how there's a blurring of lines because before covid people said, Oh, Joe works remotely, he probably hardly ever works. And it's like you said, it's the opposite. You have to be on 24/7 because even the perception, like when someone pings you, you want to be there so don't think you're slacking off. Some personal do you have any actionable things like how to help people that, as you said, it's probably going to be an ongoing event now that people are at least cannot be worked from home maybe 50 percent of the time. And how do they get that balance where they don't feel like they have to be on 24/7 for mental health?
Raj Subrameyer: [00:08:43] That's a great question. And that is something we really need to discuss in terms of some strategies and tips people can follow. First things first is not everything is a major issue, but for that particular person who's raising the issue, he or she would think that's the highest priority issue. But for each person, their issue is the most important things. But then you as a person attending to different issues, have to start prioritizing which is really important and which is not important. That is number one. So when people Slack you, they say, hey, can you just join this meeting then immediately? What do you do? You join this meeting even without asking that question, why you have to be in the meeting, and what are you discussing? And that's the situation we are in right now. And so the first thing is you have to analyze whether that particular issue is actually a big issue. And a great litmus test for that would be don't reply for an hour or two hours, right? And see whether a person actually contacts you back. The odds are seventy-five percent of the time people would have got another person to do that stuff who would be the right person instead of you. So a great litmus test is, to you know, not respond to everything and you could take your time. You can control how you want to react to different things. In terms of actual strategies, how to preserve your mental health in this crazy online world we live in. You need to start setting guardrails in terms of what are your working terms. That's where you need to block your calendar, say, for example, from nine to six, I'm on. From six to, till next morning, 9:00 a.m. I'm off. You need to have clear communication with your managers, with your leads, with your colleagues. And when you're on when you're off because here's the thing, people, currently everyone is trying to manage families and it's really hard. And people are homeschooling the kids after covid because everything was linked, zoom in virtual classes. And they said, why not we just, you know, homeschool? Because they're doing Zoom meetings. So it's we really need to figure out, okay, what times are we going to dedicate for our kids and other personal things and what times we're going to dedicate for work. And you have to clearly block your calendar and communicate that to your team so that they know, okay, when to expect you to reply to emails and you'll be surprised. Based on research, there was the latest research conducted by, man I forget the name of the company, but they found that about 75 to 80 percent of the people do not have any structure like this. That's why they feel drowning in work and in stress because they don't know how to handle how to set boundaries. That is the second thing, setting boundaries. The third thing you want to do is block some time on your calendar to do some deep work. So what do I mean by that? So since this does for automation testers and testers in general, the testing community. So let's take an example that is more relevant to our community. So say, for example, you have to write some Automations script to automate some things, say a login page. And say you have one day to do that, if you have eight hours of meeting on that day, how are you going to write an automation script and deliver on time? This is the problem everyone is struggling with right now. So that's where deep work comes into the picture. What that means is you have time box sessions to do focus work. So say, for example, that particular one day, which I gave as an example, you would block two hours just for writing Automation code. So the people do not schedule you over meetings and you can communicate that to people during your daily stand up meetings as well, saying, hey, My deadline for this task is today and then I'm going to spend two hours writing the code and test it because it's really important for me to meet my deadlines to meet my priorities because, at the end of the day, you are going to get evaluated based on your tasks. And if you just keep doing tasks for other people, then when you do tasks for yourself. So the third thing is deep work. Again, just to quickly summarize what I just mentioned here. One was to come to a realization that not everything is important. So you could do a litmus test to delay some replies and see whether it's really important. The second thing is blocking your work times, when you're going to work after talking to your significant other or if you have a family, you know, based on your kid's schedule, you want to do that and then communicate the same thing to your team because they know when you're on when you're off. The third thing is doing deep work where you do focus sessions on actual tasks, which you're supposed to, that's what they hired you for. And that's what you need to do. I think, for a start, these three strategies would really, really help to at least have some sort of a division between work life and personal life. And also another thing you can keep in mind is to not reply to all emails. Another thing which I used to do, which I used to do even before the pandemic, is I have blocks of time, where I check my emails usually once in the morning, once at noon, once in the evening. So coming up with strategies that work for you like that will help you give you more mental ease and then it'll make you more productive while you're trying to handle the family. And that's really important because I can talk, speak to this because I have a 21-month-old son. I took care of him full time for seven months from morning 9:00 a.m. till evening 4:30 p.m. Because my wife has a full-time job where it's hard to flex. And so I've been through this and all these things which I'm sharing really work.
Joe Colantonio: [00:14:16] What I love about this, we do not talk about this before the episode and the three strategies you gave actually these, some of the strategies that you've used for over 12-13 years. So this is really good advice. I really like how not to respond right away. It seems trivial, but a lot of times you get people like, oh, how do I write this? How do I write this code? You give me enough time to figure it out on their own? And you may feel guilty for doing that, but in fact, you're helping them, so you shouldn't. I think you have to talk about guilt kind of thing as well. A lot of times for me I feel guilty about not going on top of some right away, but you're actually doing your team a favor by having them figure it out themselves. The second thing is I started using a service called Focus Blocks, which allows you to block time off in your calendar. And it's like an accountability group because you have other people in the Zoom group just looking at you, not talking, and you just say what I'm working on and you just work and just have that accountability. I mean, people staring at you in a camera makes you focus even better. So I think those are all great strategies as well. So good stuff there.
Raj Subrameyer: [00:15:07] There's another app called Focus Keeper as well, which does a similar kind of thing. I used to use it and now I became much simpler in the sense when I do focus work where I use my iPhone and have an alarm for one hour. So when the alarm rings, that means I get that one-hour session of focus work was done. And for people who think what we are discussing is complicated, think about session-based exploratory testing where you're doing exploratory testing sessions in a forty-five-minute time frame on a one-hour time frame. That's exactly what we're talking about, which is doing focus work in time-block sessions. Right. But yeah, in terms of mental health, I think those are the things you could really do. And another topic related to this is so now people are saying you're doing the hybrid approach. How do you establish credibility? How do you let people know what you're up to? How do you let people know that you're contributing positively to the growth of the company and your team? That's where there are some strategies people can use to do that to make them visible. And I think this is also important, especially right now, because people feel that they're doing so much work. But since they are working remotely, their managers and their leads do not get to see what they do and it just gets buried in all the noise, which comes every day. So here are some strategies to make your work visible and this is also something.
Joe Colantonio: [00:16:29] That's what's I'm going to ask then, like why I didn't think of this but that's a good point. How do you make your work visible then to management when you're not in the office?
Raj Subrameyer: [00:16:36] Yeah, it's lit and it's a very relevant conversation because it's like you working in a siloed environment and just giving status updates and it's really hard. So here are some things which you could do. And it's funny, I'm talking about all these things, but just like Joe was mentioning, how he was using some of the strategies which I just mentioned for the past 12 years, I was doing the same thing for the past seven, eight years, but now it's become even more relevant and even more important to follow these strategies. So coming back to the strategies set number one, for you to make your work visible and increase value, your value to the team would be is to get everything documented. So whatever is not documented was never done or never said, there's a reason. Say, for example, they give you like a complex task which you had to perform. And over the phone they say, hey, hey Raj, can you write this automation script that goes over dynamic elements and then try to do some validation on these pages? Whenever you hear the word dynamic element there is always some complexity involved. And so I say that was one of the conflicts that he had to do and this is over the phone. Then you work extra hours like three at least one day? And then you want to make the test stable, make sure it's working, and then you call back your manager lead and say, hey, the task was done, then he or she would say, OK, just put a pull request and then let's get that checked in. And that's it, the whole conversation is done. And this was what, we are in July right now. So this was done in July, for example. Then in December, when your annual performance review comes, they never remember your actual work you put in to do this complex task, to write an automation script, to validate dynamic elements which is stable and a lot of teams are using but nowhere documented that you were the person who worked on it because in a team there maybe twenty-five people and there may be multiple teams. When they are thinking about promotions or performance reviews or bonuses, they have to think about 50 people. How do you then stand out from the 50 people? So first thing is, that's why you have to document everything, should be an email. Say, for example, in a meeting you get accolades for a work you did, after the meeting what you would do is send an email to that particular person saying, hey, thank you for appreciating me during the meeting, it was really encouraging. And then the person would reply, you bet you deserve it. See, now you have a documented evidence that something like that happened. Going back to the same use case of the complex automation script, I would document it and say, hey, what were these expectations from the task? These are the elements I'm going to do. Is this OK? So have the documentation thread so that during the performance review meetings you can actually talk about all these things you have done and everything is in email. You're not just making stuff up. That is number one. Number two is to maintain your success folder. That's what I call it. When I used to work for different companies, I used to maintain a folder called rash performance. There, I used to keep documenting, screenshotting all the good things, you know, all the accolades and things I've been working on which just provide value to the team. And I used to have a screenshot of the emails and documentation, everything in that one particular folder because doing the performance review meetings, you can literally go into this folder and then get all the accomplishments and then fill it up. Then that's how I actually got I was rated star performer and six out of the seven companies I work for because these things which I'm sharing actually work, but no one even thinks about it. All that is simple but apparently, it's not common knowledge. Right. So number one is to get everything documented, at least in emails. Number two is to have the success folder. Number three is to keep talking about your accomplishments in your daily stand-up meetings with your prospector meetings, spring planning meetings, and any other opportunity you get, to talk about some of your accomplishments. For example, a daily stand-up could be yesterday I was able to finish that automation script to validate dynamic elements. And now our time is going to be reduced from five hours of manual testing to just thirty minutes. See what I did there. So I'm talking about how I bring value with numbers. And you repeat the same thing during daily stand-up meetings. You repeat the same thing during the prospector meeting. And what happens is when you constantly keep talking up our accomplishments, then all of the people in your team start seeing the value you're giving. So those are some things I would say you definitely need to do to make your work really visible as well.
Joe Colantonio: [00:21:03] Absolutely. And once again, I did some similar when I was at a company, a large enterprise. I have a folder of accomplishments. Every time anyone gives me kudos, it wasn't a lot of work, they give me kudos right. I just drag it into that folder. I forgot about it. Then when it came to review, I had it all there and I would just massage the data so you don't have to put a lot of extra work into it for sure. So that's a great strategy. But Raj, what I'm curious about is in the event we find ourselves and I've been reading a lot of articles where they're saying employers are having a hard time finding employees now. And I don't know if that translates into tech or not, but we're usually behind. We're trying to justify our existence, why we're good. Now, are we in the driver's seat as tech people with the demand for people in the tech industry, or is that just in certain industries where they're not able to fill it up? Do you know what I'm saying like, what skills do I need in order to be employable? And like, what environment are we in now if I want to make a transition? How hard would it be?
Joe Colantonio: [00:29:28] Once again, I agree 100 percent. I'm surprised some people don't actually leverage LinkedIn. You know, of all the platforms that are the only one I actually only get real leads from, career-wise. So I think if you're not, they're not active, it's very easy to be seen just by creating such some content, just contributing to the discussion. And people will, you'll start getting inbound offers. So you'll be surprised how many offers you'll get because you're just contributing. You let yourself be seen and known and helping other folks up on LinkedIn for sure.
Raj Subrameyer: [00:29:56] Exactly. And some simple things people can immediately do is say you're taking a Python course or say you solve some problem in your job. Just write like six lines about what he did in a paragraph and put it post it as a LinkedIn article. And then you can put that in your featured section, what a feature section is, think of it like when you go to Netflix, it gives you recommended movies. Similarly, when you go to a LinkedIn profile, it'll tell you what is the featured stories about you, the things you want to immediately show people when they look at your profile? That's the featured section. So just add five lines to the LinkedIn article, put it in the featured section. Not a lot of people do that, already you're one step ahead of other folks. Right? And there are so many different ways where you could do things like this to stand out from the crowd. So just, you know, constantly keep thinking about it. You can look at other folks how they're doing it. You can look at my profile like Joe's profile and other folks in the testing community, you know, who have been doing this for a while, and then see how they're doing it and customized that based on your needs and your profile as well.
Joe Colantonio: [00:30:56] Yeah, I can, I can hardly stress enough modeling. So if you see someone that's successful and emulate what they're doing, copy. That's if you're a musician, a lot of times people so you borrow likes from one another. So you like stealing likes from one another. Well, if it works and it works, so if you see something that someone's doing that you want to emulate and you know, you don't have to start from scratch. Right? So sometimes people already have a model for you to emulate and to set you up for success also.
Raj Subrameyer: [00:31:21] Exactly. And for the tech folks who still don't understand this, think about the page object model.
Joe Colantonio: [00:31:26] Right.
[00:31:27] You already have a page object model. Why do you want to go reinvent the way where you want to separate your IDs, your methods, and then your implementation? It doesn't make sense. The point is you already have the structures. Similarly, you actually have people who are getting the results. Then why don't you just, you know, look at them and copy them and then customize it based on your needs, right. There's a saying, I think it's Leonardo da Vinci, he said great artists steal. So the point is, no one ever, apart from very few people, no one actually had an original idea. It's about building upon an existing idea. For example, Apple and Windows came up with their PCs and Mac, it was not their idea. There was a Xerox PARC research center in Cupertino and they gave a tour of the center to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. And they said, Dude, you have so much technology you haven't even done anything about it. Then they went back to their offices and literally you have Mac and Windows. So it's all about what better you can do. How can you make an existing idea and put your stamp on it? And that's what it's all about. And that's what we're talking about when it comes to modeling. You don't have to plagiarize like the same blog post on your blog post. You can even do that but you'll give credit, this content was taken from Joe or Raj. But what we are trying to say here is the methodology of how they are following, how they're engaging, how they're providing value. Then you can just literally take that. You can even take the same content and then put your own spin on it. For example, I've written a lot of blog posts, you can take an article which I wrote and say I agree to Raj but another thing to add to this, then you have your own article there. So there's no excuse for not standing out from the crowd these days. And it's going to be really, really important, especially right now. That's going to be the future of work because it's not only about posting resumes and zip recruiter, it's going to be about network, what network you have, which you could use. And the way to build that is the different strategies we are discussing right now.
Joe Colantonio: [00:33:27] So Raj, I think you mentioned something in the preshow about doing a TEDx talk. Do you talk a little bit about what that's about when that's going to be?
Raj Subrameyer: [00:33:33] Oh yeah. Thanks for bringing that up. Yeah, I'm super excited. One of the biggest achievements in my life would be getting picked to give a TEDx talk, and for those folks who didn't know what TEDx is, basically, you have the tech tax and then you have TEDx talks. It's the branch of tech, it stands for technology, engineering, and design and yeah, I'll be giving my first TEDx talk next week on Saturday, and then I'm giving another one on September 25th as well. And I am super excited about it.
Joe Colantonio: [00:34:05] Awesome. So Raj, hopefully, I can have a link to that. But after it happens, I'll definitely try to embed it if it's available for sure. So definitely check out the show notes for this episode. Ok, Raj, before we go, though, you've given a ton of actual advice, but is there one piece of actual advice you can give to someone right away to help improve their career? And what's the best way to find or contact you, if they still haven't got the book, how to get a hold of Skyrocket your Career?
Raj Subrameyer: [00:34:26] So one thing is to start small, start simple. You don't have to build a whole thing on your own. Just start one step at a time, whatever that may be. It could be building a personal brand, it could be taking courses, it could be trying to increase your social media footprint. It's about starting small and starting simple. Just write down different things you could do and just go one step at a time. That's a great way to improve your life and your career as well. That's the advice I would give. In terms of my book, yeah, as I said, the book has been doing really well. Thanks for all your support. And for those folks who haven't checked out the book yet, if you go to skyrocketyourcareerbook.com, you can check out the different chapters. And I'm giving away the first chapter for free so you can make your own judgment whether you like the book. And also definitely go check out the Amazon reviews, because I have one hundred and ten reviews right now, so that will give you some insights as well. So if you want to connect with me again, I'm super active on LinkedIn, so make sure you follow me and connect with me because I post video content and different types of content every day on LinkedIn. So definitely connect with me on LinkedIn and all information about me can be found on my website, which is RajSubre.com, which is RajSubre.com. Yeah.
Joe Colantonio: [00:35:46] Thanks again for your automation awesomeness. If you missed anything of value we covered in this episode, head on over to TestGuild.com/a357 and while you are there, make sure to click on the try for free today link under the exclusive sponsor section to learn all about SauceLabs awesome products and services. And if the show has helped you in any way, why not rate it and review it on iTunes? Reviews really help in the rankings of the show and I read each and every one of them. So that's it for this episode of the Test Guild Automation podcast. I'm Joe. My mission is to help you succeed by creating end-to-end, full-stack, automation awesomeness. As always, test everything and keep the good. Cheers!
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