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DISCLAIMER: I could not resist not to ask this question, although I know there is no single, objective answer. Please, delete it or turn it into community wiki.

As a potential employer, how would you respond to a cover letter with a list of genuine bugs found in his /her site or product?

This is just to present sample of applicant's skills (in bug hunting) by analogy to portfolio of

  • photographs, when applying to a photography school / media agency
  • open source projects, when applying for a developer job
  • etc.
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You mention devs use open source projects - note that open source projects also need testers. Plenty of opportunity there to show your skills – Phil Kirkham Feb 15 '12 at 15:34
More generally, it might be interesting to ask, "What would constitute a portfolio for a QA applicant?", or to put it another way, "Aside from talking about it, how can a QA applicant demonstrate their knowledge, experience, and skill?" You can find related questions at – user246 Feb 15 '12 at 15:40
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Some folks will admire your initiative and skill. Others may be annoyed, depending on whether the bugs you find relate to their day-to-day concerns.

In either case, unless you know what concerns plague the people who will receive your bug list, there's a chance that your testing will not relate closely to what's on their minds. If that happens, your approach may come off as a gimmick: Clever, but less helpful than you'd hoped.

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+1 because now I understand the lesson from some tester book: "Test for the bugs that matter for those who matter" :-) – dzieciou Feb 15 '12 at 6:28

I wouldn't include such bugs in a cover letter - to me that is the wrong medium.

Instead, I would have a list with me during the interview. And I would look for an opportunity to casually mentioned that you looked through the employer's web applications and noticed a few things, and would the interviewer like to discuss them...

As others have already mentioned, tread lightly here. You don't want to come off as accusing the interviewer of having done poor testing. Also, if you are just noticing flaws in a corporate website, often Marketing owns that website and it isn't ever tested by anyone QA.

Note that a few companies might respond well to your proposed approach. One appears to be Fog Creek. At least at one point in time, they seemed to want to attract the kind of no-experience tester that likes to point out flaws in their corporate website.


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+1 for pointing out the differences in processes between Marketing and IT. – Lyndon Vrooman Feb 15 '12 at 13:18
Interestingly, in one of job offers I found even request to send the way testing strategy proposal for part of employer product + bug report, if found. – dzieciou Apr 29 '12 at 16:08

As an Employer, I would be looking for a Tester who sees themselves as more than a bug hunter. There may be employers who are looking are for bug hunters.

If you see yourself as just a "bug hunter" & the bugs you find are your trophies, then yes, there might be some mileage in providing evidence of the bugs you found.

This said, I wouldn't mention the actual bug, or the software it was found in - more I would indicate what the implications of the bugs found were, such as impact if they hadn't been found & how I delt with the bugs to resolution.

IMO, I don't see bugs as trophies, or something to brag about - to me they're just part of testing, of which there are far more interesting stories to tell & provide more insight to an employer about you as a Tester.

If you're after "a sample of applicant's skills", try something like this guy (I love this approach btw):

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+1 for the link. I've learned that the task of the tester is beyond test design and bug finding. It's also about creating tools and datasets for devs, PMs, and other tests to verify bug fixes, and test some areas themselves. It's about doing it quickly, so with the right tools. – dzieciou Feb 19 '12 at 17:54

To me it shows initiative and drive, and it shows that the candidate cares enough about our product to actually download it and try it out. I don't think that I would be suspicious of how he or she had access to my product, unless my product was not commercially available for some reason. It's really important that a candidate is passionate about their work.

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As an employer I would be very suspicious about how you gained such specific information about what I would view as "insider knowledge" regarding the observed quality of the system under test.

That's my view anyway.


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Some products are publicly accessible, e.g., Web applications, and it is often enough to work some time with them to discover bugs. – dzieciou Feb 15 '12 at 12:46

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