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I have a total of 7 years' experience as a software QA engineer. Out of which, I have 2-3 years' experience in automation testing(UFT, selenium, cypress) and the rest of the experience is manual testing.

I am looking for a new job as software QA, and I occasionally feel that people expect me to have a lot of coding experience than I actually have. They do this considering I have 7 years' total experience in this area.

So, job description says: 5 years plus experience as a Software QA engineer, which I am, but then this position would be a Senior Software Development Engineer in Test with expectations from the person to mentor junior engineers. I think I do not possess automation experience worth 7 years.

So I feel like I should apply to positions which say 2-3 plus years' experience as a Software QA engineer, but then these jobs think I am more experienced, I do have more years on the resume but not all of it is in automation...

It seems to me like I am neither fitting in a senior role, nor in a junior role.

How should I handle this? What kind of positions should I apply for?

Also, if there are two positions, a senior and a junior, say 5 plus and 2 plus years, then can I tell the recruiter or the hiring manager that I am interested in both the roles? I understand that the salary could be lower/different.

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    Maybe this question is better suited on: workplace.stackexchange.com Jan 6 at 17:05
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    Oh I wasn't aware of the workplace stackexchange group. Thankyou for pointing it out to me. I truly appreciate everyone's suggestions here and hope I find the right fit at the same time work towards what I am lacking.
    – RenukaA
    Jan 11 at 14:03
  • I added a bounty on this question as I think this is important and applies to many senior QA folks who have some automation experience on top of largely manual testing experience. May 6 at 12:12

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This is a pretty common situation that I was in and have seen others in. Being in the "middle tier" of experience can feel like hitting a wall or even a plateau. You want to move upward but feel stuck. It also doesn't help that the industry has a focus of either "manual" or "automation". It's very "or" minded instead of "and" minded. There are some companies that value Quality Engineers where can you do "manual" and "automation" and help with improving processes and product.

What do you want to do in your career? What do you like doing? Do you like doing the "manual" aspects of QA? Do you like doing test automation? What tools do you like working on? Do you prefer front-end, back-end, web apps, mobile, etc?

A lot of what it takes to move up is confidence in your skills and knowing where you want to progress. It also takes a learning mindset. What skills can you learn that will help improve your confidence? A lot of the interview process is how you sell your skills and experience. How can you showcase your experience as a problem solver?

As a previous answer said, the job description is just a wish list. You won't have it all. There are companies out there that hire people with a lower amount of years of experience for a senior role if you have the skills, especially the soft skills (people skills).

I'd recommend reviewing my answers on these other career orient/transition:

What are some Career options after QA Testing field? - This can help give guidance on an upward path.

Can a Test Automation engineer switch to a DevOps profile easily? - This can help give guidance on different QA skills.

What's listed in those links is not exhaustive but should help give you a place to start.

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From an employer standpoint, I believe job requirements are like a wish list, and you never get what you really really want.

With that in mind and with seven years of working experience I would suggest to just go for it. Do the interview for both roles. What is the worst that could happen? The best way to figure out if there is a match is to have the conversation, not the high-level overgeneralized facts on a piece of paper.

Maybe they welcome someone in the middle. Maybe you are the best one that applies. It is not like good software people are in abundance.

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I think you are overly focused on the number of years of experience. In many instances it is only a number and no one says you can't have more experience after 2 years than someone else after 3 or 4 years. Hence my advice would be to always find out what a company wants and then you can assess if you can give tham that or not.

Also, HR is not infallible, so some of those job ads are simply misleading, inaccurate, too general, etc. Don't rely on this one source of information too much. If in doubt, schedule a more personal meeting with them, call them, video-call them etc. to find out more.

I am looking for a new job as software QA, and I occasionally feel that people expect me to have a lot of coding experience than I actually have

I have a feeling that this is more or less how you present yourself. It seems to me that you split testing into manual and automation, and then you try to do as much as possible of the latter because that's perhaps something more valuable in your eyes. If you present it like this, others will follow you and give you one, or the other.

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Are you capable of producing work of someone who has 2-3 years' test automation experience or 5-7 years' test automation experience? People learn and develop at different speeds. At my 2 year mark, I was easily outpacing and designing better than people with 5-10 years experience. Most good companies have a coding interview. Apply for one of the higher experience positions and ask for feedback on where your skills are afterward, even if you do not get the job. It will provide you with much needed feedback.

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"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool." - Richard Feynman

IMHO, be honest with yourself and first ask some hard questions.

Where do you really see yourself?

Where do you really see yourself and what is truly lacking in you professionally which is needed as per your job interviews experience so far and work on it.

In general anyone working in any field for couple of years, has good idea of general expectations for that job role and where one truly stands in each of those characteristics.

Number of years experience ???

I don't think numbers matter much as in 'number of years experience' as long one is reasonably good in his/her profession and aware of general expectations and fulfil it more or less adequately.

There are all kind of QA job requirements in the market and I think every company , every project and every team is unique in some sense which gives all varied degree of technical requirements for an position like QA Engineer.

What are your core strengths?

Every person has their unique core area of expertise where they generally shine.Find that out and play on your strengths, not on the weaknesses. Find your USP.

Where do you really belong?

There will be qa jobs where you will be over qualified and there will also be jobs where you will be under qualified.

And definitely, there will be some where you will be the best fit based on your unique profile(consisting of specific work projects, technology used and domain knowledge) compared to all other candidates who applied.

Find a sweet spot for you.

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Many times, the employer will post a wide net - a job post with more points that are actually needed. This may happen because they are looking for a large number of people so they don't care if there is some ambiguity, or because the recruiter doesn't have a very clear idea of who they are looking fore. There might be other reasons.

Most companies I applied, or worked for, listed test automation experience (at least 2 years, or 5 years, or other arbitrary value) as a hard requirement. However, in reality, especially if they are only starting with automation, they often look for someone who is willing to start automating existing test cases. And in the end you end up doing normal (not automated) testing for 90% of the time.

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