Fill Needed Positions Quickly and Effectively
The Value of Pre-Employment Training
This pre-employment training came from the need to have a backup of automation engineers for our growing processes. As more of our clients have automation needs that have to be filled, it’s not feasible to rely exclusively on market supply, which can be low at times and lends to a process that takes too long.
To that extent, we look for engineers who are “home-grown” and who, after passing the initial training, can continue learning next to projects and engineers which have potential for growth. This ensures that when we do need them, they are trained at adequate levels and we can fill positions in a matter of a couple of weeks, rather than a few months.
Of course, this is an investment from the company and our existing engineers, but it’s something that we estimate will pay off multiple times over. The initial effort will become worthwhile the moment we have all our new trainees in billable positions with minimal friction and effort on behalf of recruiting or other existing projects.
The high level strategy was basically this – interview trainee level candidates who want to pursue a career in automation until we reach a number high enough for a class. In our case, this number was 18 and we were able to reach it after a little over six weeks of looking.
The people who interviewed the candidates were also the ones who would be trainers. This helped tremendously with creating connections from the start and making them feel more comfortable and less anxious about the overall training.
In parallel to the interviews, the trainers also worked on establishing the curricula and the training schedule. This meant a lot of both independent and collaborative work between the trainers, Community Managers and HR until we reached something that was comprehensive enough, yet light enough so that we would be able to cover it in four weeks.
This implied regular meetings between all those involved, group feedback sessions for each assignment, writing dozens of pages of information, coming up with tests and exercises, presentations and videos.
While we could reuse much of the information from past trainings or internal documents, we had to create a lot of it from scratch and adapt it to suit the needs of this particular training. This was a good exercise in itself and helped improve collaboration within the QA community for those involved.
Basically, over the four weeks that the training lasted, a total of nine trainers worked on transferring the information we prepared beforehand to the trainees. The first week was focused on making sure all our trainees have a baseline of general QA knowledge — even though their main focus would be automation, there are core concepts that transcend that and need to be known to everyone in IT, regardless of their position. Three of the nine trainers focused on this week.
The following three weeks focused on the core automation training, The other six trainers led the trainees through both theoretical knowledge and practical exercises in various fundamental automation skills. We tried to cover as many topics as possible without diluting the information too much, because automation is a very broad discipline. While our primary goal was to teach and build a strong foundation of core skills, we also wanted to assess what the trainees knew beforehand and identify their strengths. This allows us to allocate them to projects which are most suitable for their skill levels further down the line.
With so many people involved in the training, evaluation of the trainees was always going to be a challenge, as people see things differently and have varying opinions. Even the candidates themselves have strengths in some areas, while they don’t stand out in others. This causes both very good and mediocre evaluations for the same person.
That said, with so many input sources — HR, the initial interviews, four weeks of training with different trainers, Community Manager observations, final test — it turned out we were able to get a very good picture of each candidate, their abilities, potential and skill levels. In the end, most of our trainees passed and, while the majority moved on to continue their automation training, we were also able to identify candidates who would do better in a manual QA position and we were able to allocate them appropriately.
Overall, I think we did a very fair and objective job of evaluating them and moving them closer to relevant projects and teams where they can continue growing.
From the Trainers
“I think we were a solid team of experienced engineers and we managed to come up with solutions to the challenges we expected to face. Of course, we couldn’t be prepared for everything, but, falling back on experience is always a good bet — we were able to adapt quickly when the situation called for it and in the end everything turned out ok. This was a good learning experience for me, definitely one I would do again, and I think knowledge sharing and spending time to pass on your skills and help train others is an important part in the career of any IT professional.”
— Flaviu Ionescu, Trainer, QA Manager
“This was a great experience, from which I learned a lot, and definitely something that must be repeated. You don’t only train the trainees, you also train yourself.”
— Adi Vaiesu, QA Lead
“It a was very challenging process finding the right people who have a hunger for innovation, the ability to take action and interested to develop a career in automation engineering.
“During the program, the trainers were great, prepared and focused and because of that, the trainees were excited and motivated each week.
“From my point of view, it was a great training, and those who finished it successfully proved to be people with great potential to become QA Automation Engineers.”
— Larisa Epure, HR Recruitment Specialist
“The pre-employment experience was a really gainful and positive moment for me. Being a trainer for the first time in this kind of program gave me the chance to meet curious and ambitious people who challenged me with their questions. I was satisfied to see how these people evolved during the entire training session and the results proved they deserve to continue this journey.”
— Catalin Sadagurschi, QA Automation
“For me, this pre-employment session was about teaching satisfaction and organizing ourselves as a group of trainers. It was a great satisfaction to share from personal experience and from the knowledge gained in the past years. It is joyful to see people involved and willing to learn but the best part is that you know you can share everything with them in a practical and efficient way, maybe in a way you would have liked yourself to receive that information when you were a rookie in the field.
“I also enjoyed the cooperation between the trainers in a fresh context of a program being organized for the first time in Iasi. It was a good opportunity to test the maturity of QA community in Iasi. We have a lot to take from this event, and I am sure we all have our learnings already.”
— Alex Andriesei, QA Lead
“Regarding the pre-employment that just finished last week, it was a first-time experience for me, I really enjoyed it and it was also a bit weird, so to speak, at the beginning, because as I said to the trainees, until not long ago, I used to be ‘behind the tables, not in front of them’. :))
However, I would totally repeat it in the future, it was fun and fortunately, we worked with a bunch of new colleagues as trainees, with big potential from each and every one of them, talented guys and fun people to work with.”
— Raducu Butnariu, QA Auto
From the Trainees
“During 9th of July and 3rd of August 2018, when the QA Automation Pre-employment took place in Cluj-Napoca, I felt the greatest enjoyment in my entire 20-years old life while also doing all kinds of intense work-related activities. These have required a lot of commitment, energy, the ability to constantly focus and thus resulting in my further collaboration with Cognizant Softvision.
“I’d like to bring into focus three major aspects of the program: the mentors, the colleagues and the things that we’ve learned throughout the 4 weeks.
“The mentors were a real example for me. What I mean by this is that they were connected to us, open-minded, not at all rigid, but at the same time they were serious, they precisely managed the teaching and leading part, and their goal for us to understand all the concepts logically, with examples, was paramount.
“Regarding the colleagues I spent a good part of the summer with, I can say that it was the first time I could identify myself as a teammate in such an interactive group. We all had an amazing time while learning, and we still kept in touch, some of us now working together as part of the same team.
“The things I’ve learnt in this program really helped me form different points of view. From one point of view, I personally use and apply these concepts and principles everyday during my work day. What I’d like to point out is that, no new information was “useless,” meaning everything was accurately chosen for us to assimilate. From another point of view, all of this helped me to pass my exams from college because I had the chance to understand programming practically.
“To sum up, I analysed my personal evolution in detail and I came to the conclusion that the pre-employment was one hundred percent worth it. I unreservedly recommend it to anyone.”
— Andrei Ghircoias
“I believe taking part on this Pre-Employment training has been a great experience for me. I chose to join the QA Automation Pre-Employment Training to learn new things and meet new people from whom I have things to learn. It has changed both my work and personal life in such a positive way already.
“I am now able to employ the skills and tips I learnt, and I expect to see the results. The whole aspect/topics were specifically made to keep you involved, as it was delivered in an interesting format. I enjoyed the theoretical and practical parts as well, both helped me in terms of evolving. Overall, I believe it has been a very relevant and useful training, but more importantly, an excellent opportunity!”
— Roxana Ambrozie
“I am very glad I had the opportunity to participate in this pre-employment program. I met a lot of active individuals with a passion for learning that helped me feel great working in a team environment.”
— Florian Anghele
For more information on Cognizant Softvision training programs, click here.