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What great performance testers look for in a company and a few things that your organization can do to attract them

If you've ever had a brush with an overloaded website, you know how important website performance is. Hopefully you were able to avoid a crash and spare the ire of your managers and investors. Perhaps you even had a shining moment, when a huge burst of traffic came through and your site was able to handle it perfectly. Sure, you would like to say it's the code that deserves the credit, but you know there's more to the story than that.

Sites don't perform at their peak without great performance testers, and it takes time and effort to acquire them. You want the best in the business, just like any other department at any other company. But what do they want? What will convince them to join your organization? This post will reveal what great performance testers look for in a company, and will show you a few things that your organization can do to attract them.

What Makes a Great Performance Tester?
It's tough to come by great performance testers these days, and top performance testers know it. They are talented and creative. They function as a hybrid between development and QA teams. Most interestingly, they have the ability to bring your system to its knees - a necessary evil that reveals weak spots in modern tech systems.

First of all, it can be tricky to know what to look for in a great performance tester. In summary, performance testers are:

  • Highly communicative
  • Knowledgeable
  • Consistent and organized
  • Agile
  • Curious
  • Destructive
  • Creative thinkers

With more and more tech products being released every year, hot new startups and giant tech brands draw some of the best in the business. So how can you compete with these tech powerhouses? You just have to know what the best performance testers are looking for.

The Big 6: Musts To Attract Top Performance Testers
We've all seen the perks that Google offers its employees to keep them happy and happily employed, but what if you don't have millions to invest in your workplace campus? Here are a few things you must do to attract the best performance techies:

1) A Solid Product. Your product has got to be substantive and fun to work on. That includes both the code itself and the environment it is running on. Remember, performance testers are savage problem solvers, so your product needs to be cutting-edge and rich enough to challenge them.

2) Meaningful Performance Challenges. Performance engineers want to solve tough problems. Give them complex transactions, high spikes in traffic, or dynamic user interfaces that are always changing, and they will sink their teeth right in. Then, show them why they matter by celebrating their successes as you do other members of the team.

3) Experience That They Can Learn From. The best performance engineers will lose interest if they don't feel that they can learn from the people around them. Young, hungry teams are important to every organization, but you also need to show them that your team contains supportive, veteran leaders who can nurture them and keep them honest.

4) A Culture That Supports Challenging The Status Quo. The job of a performance engineer is basically a professional trouble-maker, as they seek out problems that occur under extreme circumstances. If your organization doesn't have the utmost respect for that role, it's going to be tough to get someone excited to do it. But if you do nurture and support this within your culture, it will be a constant source of inspiration for your testers.

5) The Right Tools. Remember, these guys can go anywhere they want. You're not going to lure them in with 13" Acer laptops and ad-supported freeware. Give them the right tools for the job and allow them to freely build upon them as they wish. Also, having great performance testing software like NeoLoad will help!

6) A Sense Of Direction. Your company can have everything else, but if it seems that the business lacks purpose and direction, performance testers will feel lost. It's a bad sign if executives are constantly trying to figure out where to take the company (Yahoo, AOL), and it will ultimately drain the best performance engineers' morale. But a strong sense of direction will propel performance engineers forward.

Plus 4: To Go Above and Beyond...
Obviously, the basics must be covered at your company to attract the best performance testers. You must provide healthcare, dental coverage, offer ample and flexible vacation, and offer a competitive salary to get the best. But what else can you do?

7) Have Some Stimulants Nearby. Performance testers need more than an unending supply of nonfat, no-whip vanilla lattes. With their minds always running wild and with a natural drive to destroy new products and make them better, it might be wise to allow them free time to do so. Most high tech companies do this with hackathons or "on-your-own" time. Not only is this a stress release, but it spawns ingenuity behind your own products.

8) Have Some Good Eats. You would be surprised just how important it is to supply your most talented workers with healthy, tasteful (sometimes organic) meals. Free or low-priced food is a valued perk at many of today's companies. You can get creative here as well: invite local companies to cater, or give your team an old fashioned pizza Friday.

9) It's Game-Time. Another common norm in companies that attract top technology employees is the prevalence of a game room. For example, check out the one at Cisco Systems. After all, many techies claim that their original allure to the industry was from gaming. How can you rip their toys away from them now? Office games have also been known to stimulate camaraderie, creativity, and productivity as well!

10) Extras For Brownie Points. Here are a few more ideas to offer employees as extras:

  • Free tickets to sporting events or concerts
  • Company retreats
  • Discounts on the company product
  • Free company gear and swag
  • Free iPods of Netflix memberships
  • Gym memberships
  • Commute reimbursement

As a tip, try to use as much leverage as possible with other local businesses to give discounts to your employees. You'll find you may be able to lower the bill, while providing employees with a benefit that is truly unique.

As a disclaimer, these added perks might sway one or two employees your way, but perks alone will generally not attract stellar employees. In fact, these extras may be most valuable in how they inspire a feeling of community and togetherness among your employees - like your organization is a special place to work - which is what actually influences the best engineers to come onboard.

Your Company: The Place to Be
It is possible for your company to foster a culture that is enticing to employees without breaking the bank. Invest genuinely in your employees' well-being, and one thing's for sure - people will talk. Over time, your employees will feel that they are lucky to be a performance tester for your company. Top talent will be itching to find a place in your organization. So, are you ready to take out Google as the top place to work? Let's get to it!

More Stories By Tim Hinds

Tim Hinds is the Product Marketing Manager for NeoLoad at Neotys. He has a background in Agile software development, Scrum, Kanban, Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Testing practices.

Previously, Tim was Product Marketing Manager at AccuRev, a company acquired by Micro Focus, where he worked with software configuration management, issue tracking, Agile project management, continuous integration, workflow automation, and distributed version control systems.