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“One more year and I’ll be ready..”

Whenever I’ve previously thought about working for myself or have spoken to others about it, quite often you’ll hear people say, “one more year and I may try it, but only once I’ve brushed up on x or y”.

The fact is Nobody knows everything and everybody has their thing that they are good at. The truth is that if you keep putting things off, you’ll never feel ready to take the leap. Each year even after brushing up on ‘x’ that caused you doubt you may still probably find that you have doubts about ‘y’ and may still suffer from a little imposter syndrome.

The truth is you may never feel ready but life’s about risks, and very rarely there’s little reward without taking some.

“I need a degree or qualification in ‘z’ in order to get that job..”

Sure having a degree or a qualification can help you when applying for a job and getting through a job application form sift, but once you get an interview most of the time I’ve found that employers expect people to also have ‘n’ amount of years’ experience in that role or with a specific language, tool or framework.

Having experience, I have found can be much more valuable than spending time gaining qualifications, obtaining certifications and building up debt along the way. A good friend of mine (Sander Hoogendoorn) once said in one of his talks - “Sure you can sit a two day course, pass an exam and become a ‘Scrum Master’, but does that really make you a master of Scrum?”. It’s practise which really helps you to master something and can help to set you apart from others.

Just by having a good attitude, investing in yourself (time – not always money) it goes a long way and you will find this can open doors which previously may have been closed or maybe not even there in the first place. Having the right attitude and investing in yourself goes a long way.

Once you reach a certain point in your career, from personal experience I’ve found to a certain extent it has tended to be not so much what I knew but who I knew which really helped open doors to new opportunities.

If you do not have experience but are able to attend events try to network. Show people you’re passionate, you’re there because you are trying to learn, on your own time, investing in yourself.

Blog if you’re able to, It may seem daunting initially, but if you set out to blog just even as a self-reference for yourself you’ll be killing two birds with one stone. That blog post which seems fairly obvious to you may just help somebody else, or maybe it may help you get some feedback which may help you learn or change the way you think about that thing that you shared.

Another way to gain experience may be to consider contributing to an open source project. If you’re unsure where to start, find a project on GitHub and start small. Start by making changes to a README.md file or some documentation. As you become more confident perhaps help with some code maybe? This is a great way to gain not only some visibility about what you’re doing in the community but it’s experience and will help you not only gain experience but to possible help you get noticed.

It’s also becoming more and more common that employers when recruiting for jobs in the world of software tend to like to see what candidates like to do in their spare time. Who do you follow and what do you post on social media? Do you have a GitHub account? If so, what pet projects do you have? Do you contribute to any other projects? Do you have a blog? What books do you read?

This blog post is part of the “Around the World with 80 Software Testers“ book.