Webinar Rundown: Accreditation vs Experience in the Automation Space

Our latest Automation and Process Transformation Webinar was a huge success with plenty of feedback. One of the recurring themes of the feedback was the importance of networking. With that in mind, we’ve decided to act on the feedback and create a Process Transformation and Automation Community on Linkedin. You can join the community here.

https://vimeo.com/652804563

Speakers

Nikki North, RPA Lead @ Thames Water

Azim Zicar, RPA & Intelligent Automation Technical Lead @ DEFRA

Eddie Watson, Operations Director @ Cortex Intelligent Automation

Stephen Mann, Automation Divisional Lead @ Evolution Recruitment Solutions

We’ve stripped out the key insights from the webinar for you to read below.

What Do Hiring Managers Look for in their Automation Hires?

What I’m doing now recruiting in the public sector, compared to when I was working for a consultancy, and recruiting, you know, on that front, the things are very different that you look for and that you can ask for. So in the public sector, the main thing that I see from from a recruitment perspective, in general, is that you’ve got a lot of different rules that are set in place to protect from you, for example, asking people to have X amount of years of experience, because you know, in the public sector, the guidance is that, at least where I’m working, the guidance is that we’re looking for people’s exposure, they could have one years experience, and someone might have two years, but the person would one year must have had more exposure as a developer, and worked with different things compared to the one that was, you know, working with it for two years. And so that’s one of the main striking differences. I’ve noticed the the guidance that you get from an HR perspective for the developers and the things that you cannot ask for being very different. And you know, certification is one of those things as well.

Azim

We’re looking for aptitude and capability rather than certification and experience experience is important. But we see certification as a driving licence, it doesn’t mean to say that you’re going to be able to drive a vehicle very well. So we are primarily looking for problem solvers. People who have good people skills, because automation is a people game. So you can’t have somebody who is a very technically focused person who is unable to interact with people it’s got automations a team solution. So you have to have people that interact good interact well with with with a appears and with a good communication skills. And as I said, problem solving skills. And so what we have as an entire process that works around finding candidates with those profiles, obviously, technical skills are a requirement. But if you just start and stop with the technical skills, you actually don’t have people that can engage, I think successfully with a transformative automation engagement

Eddie Watson

But I think I probably agree with Eddie the type of people that we tend to, to look for him, my experience has been, it’s more about the drive of the person and the softer skills, because automation is all code in. And we’ve tended, especially with developers to try and bring people in from our business areas within our within our existing company, rather than external hiring, and to bring them in and use the team to upskill them and sort of bring them in as someone who’s an expert in the business, but has got that drive wants to do something different, you know, the kind of standout people, they’ve usually been people who’ve come onto our automation projects as SMEs, and they’ve been, for every 10 projects you do one SME really stands out, or someone who gets it wants to be involved is excited by the tech. And those are the kind of people that we’d usually reach out to as soon as there was a vacancy, and they would come in and be recruited and do that. And, and that’s kind of more important for me, I think, because I come from a from a customer angle, and my experience has been in smaller Centre of Excellence is you know, we’re not talking big federated models, you know, in sort of big industries. And my experience is a little bit smaller, and I’d prefer to build a team from the inside and use that that sort of methodology to get people in. So yeah, the the type of person and their passion for observation is usually more important than the technical skill.

Nikki

What are the Typical Challenges Hiring Managers Face when Looking for Automation Talent?

the biggest barrier was just the cost of people, the expectations, were just sort of far outweighed what we were able to, you know, to be able to pay. And if you bring in as well, even if you could maybe stretch things, it’s the disparity that comes into your team then as well, which then causes you know, all that sort of that sort of upset. And I think, yeah, I think cost versus experience has probably been one of the biggest challenges, especially if we go back sort of five or six years. And when, you know, obviously, Intelligent Automation, there’s more things taken off now. And there’s a lot more different sorts of tech out there, five, six years ago, that was just, just milk, mostly RPA was more popular. And there were not that many places where you had loads of experience. So people could, you know, demand a bit of a premium. And I think it’s kind of levelling out now, but that’s definitely been the main challenge and sort of validating actual experiences. I know is sort of something we’re going to talk about around yeah, yes. Just because there’s, you know, you get a CV and it’s got a list of things in and then when you actually sit and speak to someone, you realise that the the the words on the CV don’t necessarily match up with what you’re looking for, or expect someone to have at that sort of accredited level.

Nikki

I find myself repeating when I speak to, you know, recruitment agencies or even when I’m looking at recruiting people that we shouldn’t be asking for a pro coder, or like Eddie said, a coder, because this low code development is different. It’s more of a consultant with technical skills than a developer with, you know, non non technical skills. And so that’s the thing you need to be looking for. So when you try to translate this to the market, and try and get someone now, especially with my recent experience in the public sector, and because those people that are able to identify this type of talent, and know that is a very niche talent, then it creates a kind of demand for those, those those skills. And very quickly, the numbers don’t start to make sense anymore. Because, you know, we will look at it on the public sector side as a, let’s say, a normal developer, or even a senior developer. And as you know, in the public sector, you don’t get paid that much compared to the private sector. So when you start looking for these niche developers that you can identify, you start seeing that actually, the private sector, you know, is giving them financially, he’s given them much better reward. So you start, you know, really looking for that talent and finding it difficult. And that’s been my experience. And very lately, but, you know, I was able to successfully recruit recently, a whole team, and you know, I’m getting at the end of that contract and even get a lead developer, as well, very soon, we’ll have that as well. So it, it’s there, if you look for it, but it’s very difficult when you’ve got the when you’ve got those limitations, financially speaking

Azim

What a Good Automation CV Looks Like

The buzzwords are the standard things that everyone would put on. But I think what I would what I would expect, or what I would like to see is because that’s obviously you can have your key skills and experience isn’t it is the buzzwords, but then for me, I’d expect a section of like key achievements to have an example in there that might bring all of that experience together. So just a couple of lines about something where, you know, alluding to the fact that there’s been you know, you’ve had to come up with a design or a solution for something with X challenges and that suggests problem solving. You’re absolutely right there was you get that more in a what if I saw receive it with the buzzwords and nothing to back that up? that probably wouldn’t go to the next round for me if there was, this is.

Nikki

You’ve got to go a bit beyond that and show something different. Maybe give it a specific example. But to be honest with you, personally, I don’t even look for those keywords on the CV, I look for those things when I’m talking to them. And I don’t tell them, I’m looking for it. But as they talking, I start to think, Is this person a natural problem solver? And have they demonstrated any examples where they have been and used an analytical mindset, and actually done observations and thought about a problem before tackling it? So for me, I don’t look for it on the CV because everyone will have those key words, when I’m talking to them

Azim

The Importance of Accreditations and Certification

I think it depends on the role, if I were looking for a developer, just to, you know, a standard developer, and expect an accreditation, at least. But there’s other things like this, there’s, there’s a couple of exams for blue prism, specifically, there’s a standard accreditation solution designer and a professional developer. And so I think that accredited accreditation would be sort of standard for any role. But I think when you’re looking for a senior developer, for me, a senior developer doesn’t necessarily map to a professional developer, it’s more solution designers a great one, because it’s understanding what the solution looks like. And like I say, some of those problem solving skills are all in there. But for me, a senior developer in in my view, is usually someone who’s got some of those softer skills, who can mentor the developers who can support those developers, you know, rather than it being about them being a super technical resource who can solve you know, who can who has the technical know how to build code, say, just to get round things. It’s not that’s not what that’s about. For me. It’s about that more supportive role, and about someone who can come in and lead developers and and, you know, even people management, you know, for for all the developers. So that’s the kind of thing that I would look for on a CV over and above, something like a professional qualification, because I think the professional exams specific for blue prism is around a breadth of experience. So different types of interactions and different types of systems rather than how to be a developer, you know, how your role model as a developer, or developers, you know, can you manage a team of developers that look up to you, and that you can mentor that you can support and that you can improve on and that’s what I would be looking for in a senior developer. So I wouldn’t downplay accreditation, because I think the type of person who strives for self development and is driven to get those qualifications, whether it’s within work, or in their own time, that does display something to me as well about their type of character, the type of employee, they might be, how committed they might be. But I’ll think I wouldn’t necessarily dismiss someone for not having them, it might be a conversation in an interview to say, Well, you’ve got six years experience, but you’ve only got a standard accreditation, you know, and talk about the circumstances as to why that is. And if it’s because you can tell they’re just not they just can’t be bothered, rather than they’ve not been supported, you know, by the way they currently work. And that’s one of the you know, it’s all about that conversation. So I think it’s important, but it wouldn’t put me off.

Nikki

Let me put it that way. If you’re recruiting for someone and they don’t have a certification, that is certainly a big question. So I think the the context of what you’re recruiting for is critically important. If you’re recruiting for someone that’s going to work on a specific platform. The certification is important. But as both Azima Nikki have said, it’s it’s one tiny, it’s the driver’s licence for the platform, it’s not that the fact that they’re going to function well in the role, because that’s a much bigger question. And interestingly, for me, and listen to the guys, so the one thing that we will do is, if a PhD student, a PhD graduate applies, we will generally and in fact, also masters, we would always look at them much, much more stringently, because they tending to head towards an academic bent, rather than a problem solving practical bend. And we’re very careful of that. So we’ve had some, some PhDs who have been really not well suited to the role because they never finishing, you know, they’re constantly looking for innovation without actually completion. But I just wanted to go back to the comments as him and Nicki made earlier about the CVS and these words of problem solving and aptitude or being, you know, standard in a CV. And I think that that is a key issue that becomes a problem for candidates applying for a role is it when you get and both Nicki and Azima, I’m sure will have had this you get this absolute pile of CVS, and your job is to sift through them. It’s an incredibly difficult job. And in that sense, I think it’s really important that candidates applying for roles understand that their CV can’t be two dimensional. So they absolutely have to do something to get your attention and what gets my attention and I think both Nikki and as alluded to this as it Explain the challenges you’ve faced in the problems you’ve solved. But I again, I come back to it as even said, as I think it that that discussion is far more important than the CV but fellow the people, the less has to get through the door, you know, whoever is applying for the role has to get to being in front of you, before you can have that conversation that you need to focus on some way of conveying that that skill set and their capability. And the examples are good one, I think the one thing that we do, because everyone will say everyone, people very commonly come in with, you know, a problem that they’ve solved, that the question we would always like to ask is tell us about the one that got away? What did you solve and why. And that always puts them in a situation and you will very often find very, very smart cable, people are not able to actually get back to all actually you know, what I don’t think there’s been a problem that I haven’t been able to we all know, problems we haven’t been able to solve. And you’ve all got a view on why you weren’t able to solve it. And that is equally important that self awareness is perfect. But it’s all in the context of the role, whether you’re looking for basic developer, whether you’re looking for the architect, or you’re looking for someone who’s actually working on this business analyst, you know, you’ve got to pitch your your discovery process with the individual, and in the context of the role you’re looking for. And accreditation plays a key part for that in for me anyway. But it is table stakes. It’s not a slam dunk.

Eddie