Is it realistic to try to hire someone who is a developer and a tester?
I've been trying to hire a tester for a few months without success. I really want to find someone who is both a tester and a developer, not because I want them to do two roles, but because the kind of testing I want them to do is all about automation and therefore I think they need to be able to at least programme in a scripting language like python to a reasonable level. Agencies tell me that it's not realistic to aim to find such a person, and I think their reasoning is something like: a good developer would rather be a developer than a tester (more money, more prestige).
So, my question is: is it realistic to try to find a developer turned tester or a tester who has learned to develop testing code? If not, what's a good alternative approach?
Edit: Great answers, guys. Thanks so much: this has been genuinely helpful. If anyone here is interested in a test automation development role based in London, let me know!
In addition to what everyone else has said, it's absolutely realistic.
With respect to what the hiring agencies are telling you, here are some reasons you could find difficulty convincing a developer that they want to be part of the test team:
- if your automation specialists are paid significantly less than your developers, you'll be asking any developer to take a pay cut. That usually doesn't end well unless you're offering other compelling benefits (in the form of training, recognition, opportunities to attend the industry conferences on the company dime and particularly autonomy)
- if your test team is the red-headed stepchild of the organization (their warnings are ignored, their requests for resources are always last in the queue, they have to make do with everyone else's cast-offs for their systems, they have to fight for access to the tools they need to do their job... that sort of thing), you will have trouble attracting developers, much less keeping them
- if your automation specialists are repeatedly pulled away from automation to perform manual testing because of the latest "emergency", you will lose any developer you bring in.
I wish I could say these were rare conditions - the reason the recruiting agents are saying you're being unrealistic is that too many places look on testing as a luxury at best, and an unwanted money sink at worst.
If your organization is prepared to treat your automators as developers and respect their judgment, you should have no difficulty bringing good people in - as long as you make it clear that you're not just expecting them to do brainless coding and you appreciate that writing software to run and test software is a challenging and interesting career path.