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What do employers look for when hiring for IA teams?

Women in RPA – The Africa Chapter

September 10, 2021

Intelligent Automation (IA), specifically Robotic Process Automation (RPA), is a trending topic, and we are only at the beginning of the conversation. In previous posts, we talked about how to build a career in Intelligent Automation and also how to transition to Intelligent Automation from your current job. The next question we want to answer is what employers look for when hiring.

We had a virtual sit-down with Waseer Haffajee, Chief Product Officer at Cogent, to pick his brain about what he looks for when selecting talent for his team.

Waseer leads the delivery team that makes various IA projects possible. He is also responsible for the team that creates new products to augment the automation ecosystem.

Intelligent Automation skills are relatively new. Where do employers go to find talent in South Africa?

That is a tricky question because the market has a shortage of this type of skill. You are most likely to find talent at other IA companies. However, at Cogent, we prefer to build our own skills to ensure that the calibre is consistent with our standard. We recently launched a unique Full Stack Intelligent Automation Engineer course delivered by our sister company, Talentank. This course is provided by our team members and will be the entry point for fresh talent into our team.

As a hiring manager within an IA business, what would you say is the top three critical aspects you look for when scouting talent?

Having worked with talent from various backgrounds within the IA space, I have realised that it comes down to the following:

Attitude first: You must be willing to learn and go the extra mile.
Culture fit: You must be able to fit into the company culture to work with the team. IA is all about team effort.
Logical thinking: You should have a clear, analytical mindset to solve complex problems.

When you screen candidates, what are the technical skills you are hoping to see on a CV?

I generally look for candidates that illustrate the application of problem-solving techniques in their CV. It is always good to see experience working with coding languages such as Java and C#. Lastly, I look for any process mapping experience.

Why would you encourage people to choose a career in IA?

The world is succumbing to the digital era every day. More than 50% of the world’s largest companies are adopting this technology. Many white-collar jobs will become obsolete, thereby creating higher-value work for humans such as IA engineers. There is no time to wait. Getting into a career in automation is possible for more people than you think.

What unique qualities do you believe women bring to the technology teams?

There are definitely qualities that stand out when working with women in our technology teams:

Composure: Women can navigate through the maze of complex jargon and process steps to understand the critical workings.
Empathy: Women seem to understand the problem from a human perspective, enabling them to gather sensitive information from employees that would not be mentioned in a standard operating procedure document. This is incredibly important to the process of automation.

What critical professional skills do you believe give candidates an edge in entering the IA career space?

Communication: You need to be able to articulate your message correctly to a range of audiences.
Teamwork: You need to work within a team to achieve a common goal.
Time management: Always meet the deadline, never keep the client waiting.
Critical thinking: IA requires the developer/engineer to think and program the worker, i.e., create the brain. The worker should know what to do if the selected process step is not achieved.

Any advice for people interested in IA careers?

The pandemic has brought about a shift in the labour market; there is a newfound emphasis on the digitisation of work. Unemployment will increase in white-collar work. People should embrace the change and start focusing their attention on data and analytics, automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

There are also many practical things people can do to get going. There is no shortage of avenues to learn on the internet.

• Take free courses to get a feel for the work. Check our Blue Prisms. You can try out the foundation course to get your automation journey started.
• Read up on the use cases currently taking place around the world.
• Start adapting your skills to take advantage of this new industry.
• Educate yourself.
• Chat to Talentank about their Training Academy.

Now that you have some good insight into what employers are looking for, now is a good time to do your research into Intelligent Automation career paths and get going.

If you are interested in chatting to us for more information, pop us an email: hello@talentank.co.za.