Entry-level Scrum Master courses – Which one is suitable for you?

Something I have been asked on many occasions is… “Which Scrum certification is best to go for?!“… a topic no doubt covered many times before, but here are my two pence (or two cents) worth.

Let me start by saying that a Scrum certification doesn’t make you a Scrum Master (for instance)… indeed when I recruit for Scrum Masters I am interested in experience and demonstratable skills… and the best way to develop skills is “to do”… but… a certification does provide a good foundation upon which you can understand how to “do correctly”.

There are many Scrum and Agile certifications! Foundation, Intermediate, Advanced, Scrum Master, Product Owner, Developer, Scaled, DevOps, Kanban, Coaching, other… the list goes on and on and on. You can even get certifications for being certified (but I think these might be a joke). The thoughts in this article attempt to address the general, foundation building blocks for someone wanting to develop a good understanding of the core of Scrum… the basics! This might be a person developing as Scrum Master or Product Owner, or as a Scrum Team member that wants to have a good grasp of the Scrum framework to help them be effective on a Scrum Team.

Looking at the market, there are four “popular” Scrum certification bodies that offer, what I consider to be, a core/foundation certification: 

  1. Scrum.org (PSM)
  2. Scrum Alliance (CSM)
  3. SCRUMstudy (SCM)
  4. EXIN (ASM) 

Yes, there are other Scrum orientated bodies, but for the purposes of simplicity I have focused on the ones that I see as the more popular ones that offer a core foundation/fundamental certification. 

Scrum Alliance offers CSM® (Certified ScrumMaster®)

The CSM  certification is probably the most widely recognised certification in the UK (so a very good one to go onto a UK based CV). For me, it is also one of the easiest to obtain (in terms of exam complexity). You need to attend a 2 day course (mandatory) which costs c. £700 to £1500 (including exam fee) before then going on to complete a basic multiple choice exam (if I remember correctly there are 50 questions and I think the pass mark is approx. 75%). 

The CSM is about Scrum foundation awareness and skills. The key benefit of CSM is that the mandatory in-person classroom course (or 25-hours formal coaching) develops the skills and thinking/mindset that other certifications (without in-person development) might not! Attending a CSM certification course really does expose you to some great learning facilitated by a Scrum Alliance Certified Scrum Trainer (CST). So, whilst I found the CSM the easiest to obtain (turn up to, participate in the course, and do the exam) the development exposure was great!!! I was lucky enough to do my CSM with Geoff Watts, one of the leading Agile trainers in the world… having a great trainer definitely helped me in developing further and getting the most from the course!

The Scrum Alliance development path opportunities, following CSM, are A-CSM (which requires a two-day course and goes deeper into Scrum Master skills) and then CSP-SM. The path to becoming a CSP-SM is an enriching and engaging one (I obtained my CSP-SM via Geoff Watts). In addition, Scrum Alliance offers alternative Scrum development paths such as CSPO, A-CSPO and CSP-PO for Product Owners.

Scrum.org offers PSM I (Professional Scrum Master Level I)

In my opinion, the PSM is “the daddy” of foundation Scrum certifications. Scrum.org was founded by the co-creator Scrum and the certification reflects this. The PSM focuses on knowledge held within The Scrum Guide (in fact most of the certifications use The Scrum Guide as a core reference) and you need to learn and fully understand/comprehend every line of The Scrum Guide, which is only 16 pages long, to hit the very tough 85% pass mark. 

Only 16 pages long, that is easy to learn and understand” I hear you say! No… just reading The Scrum Guide will not put you in a position to pass the exam… you will need to read books, blogs, articles, and undertake test exams to be sure to pass first time. Just like Scrum Alliance (CSM), Scrum.org offers a two-day course associated with the PSM I certification… but unlike CSM, it is not mandatory. I have not attended a PSM course so I can’t comment first-hand on them, but my perception is that they are of high quality and offer great learning opportunity from a Professional Scrum Trainer (PST).

The PSM exam is definitely the hardest of the four certifications I am summarising… and in my opinion is the best proof of foundation understanding of Scrum. When I recruit Scrum Masters, I want to see PSM and I personally favour PSM over CSM when looking at a candidate’s CV (but as I mentioned above… ultimately, I do look for much more than just certification). 

Another great benefit of PSM is that it is a low-cost way to challenge and develop yourself… as in theory, the only cost is $150 for the exam. So, a really good “North Star” focus if you are getting into Scrum and/or are looking to continuously develop when you can’t afford a course or time off of work.

Scrum.org development path opportunities following PSM include the PSM II and extremely difficult PSM III. Again, these advanced certifications don’t require mandatory courses but are very challenging and demonstrate strong awareness of Scrum.

EXIN offers ASM (Agile Scrum Master)

The ASM hits Scrum certification from a slightly different point of view. Like the others, it does look to provide the foundation understanding of Scrum but it also then looks to teach more of the “how to do Scrum”… how to deal with different Scrum stakeholders, how to roll out Scrum, etc. You will learn models such as ADAPT and “Split and Seed”. You have to do a course to certify for ASM (i.e. training is mandatory), but the course can be completed online (making it more accessible for those restricted for time). Assume c. £500 to £800 (including exam fee). 

In my opinion, to get the most out of the course and certification, it is absolutely essential to read and understand Succeeding with Agile by Mike Cohn (which I would recommend reading regardless of the ASM certification). This is the book that talks about “how to do Scrum” and much of the ASM curriculum and exam is based around it (along with other books).

The exam is 40 questions and only requires a 65% but despite the low pass requirement, it is not easy! Many of the multiple-choice questions are almost “subjective” – or at least they feel subjective. You really have to understand the models and theories that Mike Cohn and others write about! 

For me, the ASM is a good certification if you want to go wider but I wouldn’t recommend as first one you get (focus on CSM and PSM). There isn’t any development path past the ASM.

SCRUMstudy offers SMC® (Scrum Master Certified)

 SCRUMstudy also uses The Scrum Guide as it’s core source, but, and to the frustration of many Agilists, they have taken the simple and lightweight guide, and added one or two (and maybe twenty) elements to offer a free to download, comprehensive manual (referred to as SBOK® … Scrum Body of Knowledge) that breaks Scrum into well thought-out phases and processes. 

SCRUMstudy have attempted to “elaborate” on Scrum and effectively create  PRINCE2-like processes for Scrum… and if you apply a pragmatic lens, it does offer some great ideas of application of Scrum in an organisation… but care needs to be taken as the ideas may or may not be appropriate to a particular context. Furthermore, some of the ideas conflict with other opinions and Scrum references. Indeed, many Agilists will argue that SCRUMstudy have created a heavy and incorrect monster view on Scrum. But… if pragmatism is applied… the information in the SBOK can be useful. Remember… all models are wrong, but some are useful!

SCRUMstudy provide an interesting matrix as to their view on the benefits of the SBOK

The SMC certification reflects foundation Scrum knowledge AND understanding of the SBOK. So, remember it is about Scrum but within the context of the SBOK. In terms of depth and complexity, the SMC exam sits between the CSM (easier) and the PSM (harder) but is a lot less recognised from a CV point of view. Having a SMC certification on your CV would not influence recruiters.

However, the cost of the certification ($450) is good value for money because you get lots of good quality videos, the comprehensive SBOK, as well as the exam fee. Just remember that this is an elaborated version of Scrum and some of the ideas are not in keeping with The Scrum Guide.

SCRUMstudy development path opportunities following SMC are SCRUMstudy Agile Master Certified (SAMC™) and Expert Scrum Master Certified (ESMC™) however I do not see this path as deep as enriching as the path to CSP-SM or PSMIII. Consider SMC to be the focus if you opt for SCRUMstudy.

The Wrap-up…

So which one is suitable for you? Every one has pros and cons. Can you afford to do a two-day course? Can you afford not to do a two-day course? A course with a trained and experienced instructor, and the interaction with other trainees will bring learning you can’t get from reading books.

The CSM and PSM certifications are definitely the stand-out options… the CSM for its foundation building “experience”, and the PSM for its high benchmark exam.

For me, go for both the CSM and PSM. Perhaps self-learn for the PSM off the back of the CSM.

Good luck in your onward and never-ending journey towards Agility…

What is a Product Manager?!

Product management

I have recruited Product Managers for around 3 years now, and the role of ‘Product Manager’ in a digital development sense has been around for some 10 years or so (depending on who you ask). As I recruit for these new breeds of managers, it is my daily role to screen candidates’ experiences, and make the call on whether they are suited. Through my own research and curiosity, I have felt compelled to share my insight into ‘What is a Product Manager?´

So, let’s start with the definition. There are many variants of definitions out there on the web, and I will give my version. “A Product Manager is wholly responsible for a specific product. This person owns the product life, from concept, to launch, to ongoing ‘shelf-life’ and iterations. It is managing the Product, and everything associated with it.”

That was my version, which I deliberately wrote without reference checking, or being influenced by other sources. So, then I researched, spoke to experts, and come with the following more defined version. Here is what Wikipedia defines it as: 

“A Product Manager owns the business strategy behind a product (both physical and digital products), specifically its functional requirements, and generally manage the launch of features”. 

Then having spoken with some experts, they tell me that “The Product Manager can in fact be responsible for several products, and not just a single one. A Product Manager owns the why. He or she is responsible for the outcome of the product.” I think this embodies it well.  

As you can see, we can summarise with owning the strategy of a product or products, developing the product, launch of the product, and continual support of the product, and responsible for the outcome of the product. 

The role of a Product Manager is expanding due to the growing importance of data in decision making, an increased customer and design focus, and the evolution of software-development methodologies.

Product Managers are the glue that bind the many functions that touch a product – engineering, design, customer success, sales, marketing, operations, finance, legal and more. They not only own the decisions about what gets built, but also influence every aspect of how it gets built and launched.

3 common profile types of a Product Manager

Now we have identified ‘what is a Product Manager’, I have also become aware of the different types of Product Manager that exist. My first observations from recruiting, is that I am often interviewing a Technical Product Manager, or a Business-orientated Product Manager. The 3rd profile is a hybrid of these, a Technical and Business focused Product Manager, or otherwise referred to as a Generalist. So, we have: 

  1. Technologist Product Manager
  2. Generalist Product Manager
  3. Business-orientated Product Manager

Naturally, different profile types suit different companies/positions. The Technologist will typically be best suited to a PM role with technical complexity, the Product itself could be backend, or highly complex B2B products. A Generalist may be better suited to Frontend for B2B, or B2C Products. Finally, the Business-orientated profile could be more suited to B2C Products, with focus on maximising business metrics. 

What does the job entail? 

A Product Manager’s role will vary depending on a variety factors (company, industry, size of company etc.) However, there is a common core which is consistent, call it the 80% if you will. Most product professionals spend most of the time focused on the following: 

  • Market Research – Conducting the research on the companies’ market, the audience/users, and the competitors.
  • Developing the Strategy – From collating the research, it’s then about putting a high-level strategic plan in place for their product, with clear objectives and goals. This also encompasses the strategy of pricing and packaging, and prioritisation.
  • Communicating the Plans – Develop a working strategic plan using a product roadmap and presenting this to key stakeholders across the organisation. This communication is obviously ongoing, across cross-functional teams throughout the development process and beyond.
  • Coordinating Development – Once we move into the development stage, the Product Manager coordinates the development with the relevant teams – Product Marketing, Development, Stakeholders etc. A big part of coordinating development is also coordinating the launch. A launch will not be impactful unless the PM has coordinated the release between departments. 
  • Acting on Feedback – Finally, after building, testing, and launching the product to the market, then it is the stage of listening to feedback. What works, what does not work, what should be added or removed. The Product Manager collates this feedback and coordinates with the relevant teams and uses this feedback for future iterations of the Product.

Mindset of a Product Manager

This is an interesting term that I heard numerous occasions when speaking with hiring managers that are looking to hire a Product Manager – ‘what is their mindset’? I was asked to add this to my screening criteria. Naturally I asked what this meant, and I needed to understand why this was so relevant to the profile. 

So simply put, mindset is how someone thinks, it’s the thought process. You can go a step further, and say it is the way you challenge a notion, the inner curiosity. Curiosity in the context of Product Management, would be a need to gather all information, to challenge things, to understand the problems, and the desire to solve them. You could also call this a learning mindset, a testing mindset, or curiosity mindset. 

With these mindset traits, you have a core fundamental ability to succeed as a Product Manager. Skills, experience, technical/subject knowledge are of-course very important and completes the package, but mindset is said to be core to it all. 

There is a lot more reading out there on mindsets, such as the breakdown of mindset types (Explorer, Scientist and Driver), but for now we just cover the over-arching topic of ‘What is a Product Manager’. 

So how does one become a Product Manager? 

As I mentioned, the role of a Product Manager is a relatively new one, at least from an official job title perspective. The evolution from waterfall to agile has contributed to this change in role types to accommodate new ways of working, the ever-changing needs.  

Product Managers come from a variety of different backgrounds, and not necessarily the same discipline. I would start with saying that those coming from an Agile environment, with the agile mindset, will make this transition far smoother than one coming without this. This is due to the mindset and way of working, the way a team works together, the whole dynamic in an agile environment. Essentially one who is used to working in Agile will be used to continuous change. I am also predominantly speaking in terms of a software development environment, which Agile is most known for, but this can also be true for other areas such as Marketing or Finance. 

Training vs. Transit

Product Managers can indeed be trained from other backgrounds, and some professions are more ‘seamless’ than others. From my experience, I have often seen Business Analysts and Project Managers make this transition. This is in fact what gave me the idea to write this article, it was the conversations with current Project Managers on how they could transition to the role of Product. 

So, what is it that would make a Business Analyst or Project Manager a good fit for Product Management? Well, both cover facets of the overall Product Manager, where Project Managers have the toolset to solve a problem, manage the time and resources, and to budget. A Business Analyst has the other angle, coming in from what the needs are, the interaction with business and IT/SMEs, to understand problems and needs, and to solve them. 

There are many ways to become a Product Manager, personal skillsets contributing more so than what background you come from. It stems from being able to answer: 

  1. Do you really understand the product? 
  2. Do you know how to speak to customers and conduct customer interviews?
  3. Do you know how to communicate your vision for the product and how to prioritise it?

A route into Product Management, starting with University

Fresh graduates will not go straight into a Product Management role, there needs to be several years of commercial experience to get the toolbox required in order to succeed. However, let’s look at what starting points a graduate could have as a good foundation into Product. These graduates could have come from any discipline. Again, we go-back to the mindset approach. Curious thinkers, those that challenge, those that love to solve problems, those that are customer centric and can think of user experience improvements, this is the DNA of a Product Manager.

Thus, there could be some courses more relevant than others, such as business, or technical, or an MBA could be good foundations. UX is, of course, a great foundation too. Interestingly, more and more universities are now introducing Product Management into the syllabus, and there is even an online MSc in Product Management from the University of Salford (UK). This all said, it is more likely that to get into Product Management, it would be beneficial to get some years’ experience in the foundations, such as UX design/UX research, Innovation Design or Business Analysis, post-University.

Summary

In summary, there are many definitions of a Product Manager, and their role, and this can also be said for other roles really. It really depends on the company’s definition, the size of the company, and how varied or specific their mandate is. I have best summarised what I have observed in terms of what a Product Manager is, what they do, and the importance of mindset. 

I often ask this question in interview with Product Managers – “What do you feel are the qualities of a good Product Manager?”, and I get a very interesting range of answers. Here, I summarise:

My Top 10 qualities of a good Product Manager: 

  1. Business Acumen
  2. Customer focused
  3. Good communication skills
  4. Data Driven
  5. The Ability to Prioritise and make GO or NO-GO decisions
  6. Coordination skills
  7. Leadership skills, with ability to delegate
  8. Strategic Thinking
  9. Visionary
  10. Can simplify complex problems

These 10 traits form a good amalgamation of a Product Manager. Then I would like to add the importance of the right mindset. Finally, let’s add the passion, the technical or industry knowledge, and you have a close definition of a PM. 

I hope this has given you some insight into what a Product Manager is. Of course, this is my take on it, seen from a digital recruiter’s perspective. I am fortunate to be in the position of working with different companies, hiring for Product Managers with different attributes and backgrounds. I have drawn upon my experiences and reached out to my network to put together this high-level article. Finally – If you are a Product Manager looking for your next career opportunity, or you are a hiring manager looking to hire a Product Manager, do please get into contact with me. I would be delighted in helping you. My email is christian@paynesearch.com

What is Digital Transformation?

I have been recruiting IT professionals for over 16 years, and in the past few years, I have become more involved and focused within the digital transformation space. I recruit to some great companies. So, I decided to put together a little article on my take on Digital Transformation, a recruiter’s perspective, and share my thoughts!

So, what is it? –, Digital Transformation is where companies utilize technology to a significant extent to develop their services. It is putting digital at the core of a company and using data and analytics to support and drive business decisions.

It is a company’s mission to evolve, gain competitive advantage, and using technology to achieve this. Then in practice, a digital team or teams are integrated into the organization.

This digital drive requires teams of staff specifically focused on the digital agenda, and this will often require hiring new staff. This is where I come in, I help companies staff their digital journey.

Here is a quick definition of the 3 digital terms:

Digitization – The process of converting information into digital/computer format.

Digitalization – is the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.

Digital Transformation – This is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers. It’s also a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment, and get comfortable with failure.

So, what type of positions are typically hired within digital teams, or ‘hubs’?

Different companies will, of course, have different setups tailored best to their business, size, and industry. The bigger the company/digital team, generally the more specialized individuals you have, and can have variants of each role type. Here I will generalize some of the main core positions you would most likely find in a digital set-up:

  • CDO (Chief Digital Officer) or Head of Digital – this is where you would typically start, by getting on board the key accountable for digital change/growth. The CDO has the overall decision and direction, the whole process of the digital transformation, and is responsible for the entire consumer digital experience of the company.
  • Product Director / Product Manager / Product Owner – The Product Director is typically responsible for a key business line or product and has accountability for its product planning, development, and delivery. The Product Manager defines the why, when and what of the product.
  • Scrum Master – The Scrum Master is the facilitator in an Agile development team. This person ensures the team lives the agile values and principles, under the Scrum methodology challenging the team to continually improve the development process. The Scrum Master is often referred to as having a ‘servant leader’ mindset, meaning one who serves their team, an enabler.
  • UX Director – The User Experience Director or Lead has the overall responsibility of the user experience, meaning the consumers touchpoints of the company. UX is key to a company’s product strategy.
  • Agile Coach – The Agile Coach is an expert in Agile, who implements Agile projects and shares/coaches their experience with Project Teams. They oversee the development of agile teams and ensure effective implementation of the Agile process within organizations. There are also Agile Delivery Leads and an Agile PMO.
  • Data Scientist – The Data Scientist is the one who knows how to extract all the data, and the technical skills to solve all the problems. This person is part mathematician, part computer scientist, and a big data expert.
  • Analytics Analyst (AA) / Data Analyst – Analytics, and the study of data, and using this data to drive business decisions is a key function within a digital-driven organization. It is the design and implementation of models and systems to harness the power of data and analytics.

There are various other roles, hybrids, and key job functions that make up the digital hub of a company, however, this just highlights some of them.

Recruiting for Digital Transformation

As you can see from the above positions I listed, a lot of these positions are relatively new, role profiles are changing with technology. Therefore, companies that invest in a major digital transformation are likely to need to hire.

My role as a recruiter is to help companies in building their digital team(s). I get involved either internally by working inhouse for the hiring phases of digital growth, or I can also help clients remotely as an external headhunter. This is also a good description of what my company, Payne Search, does. We hire for digital transformations, and we either do this onsite/in-house, or as an external search process.

I love being a ‘Digital Recruiter’! Every day is a continuous learning process, and I am always growing my network and meeting great people. I really thrive in being a part of a company’s decision-making process, identifying the ‘as is’ and mapping out the ‘to-be’. I absolutely look forward to helping many companies on their digital transformation journey.  So, if you are a company looking to hire digital talent, or a digital talent yourself, please connect with me! You can add me here on LinkedIn, and also my email is christian@paynesearch.com.

Please sign up for our monthly Digital newsletter!

I am about to start a monthly newsletter (the first edition goes out December 1st) that is specifically for the digital space. The content is likely to consist of a blog from me, some articles on key digital topics from ‘the experts’, knowledge sharing, and then some great digital job opportunities. This will be my first attempt at a newsletter, so I will look forward to getting feedback from the community and will be improving and tweaking as we go along (in true Agile style!).

So, if you have made it to the end of this article, I truly thank you for showing interest! Please do sign up to the Payne Search monthly Digital newsletter here: https://paynesearch.com/newsletter/

Digitally thanking you!

Christian Payne

Welcome to Payne Search!

Some tips for doing a great interview!

Javor interviews Christian Payne on what tips he has for giving a great interview

Many of you have probably experienced going through a long interview process, only to get rejected in the end. Maybe it was because you lacked a certain skillset, maybe someone else was more skilled, or maybe, just maybe it had something to do with how you handled the interview. If you feel like that has been the case for you, or want some insight into what works and what does not when it comes to job interviews, then I hope to provide a bit of information that could help you. We at Payne Search have interviewed many hundreds of candidates, and in this article, I will provide a few tips on acing a job interview. You may know some of these things already, you may even know all of them, but give it a read and you may just end up being surprised regardless!

The skills are the bare minimum

If you are applying for a job as a backend developer, then, of course, the necessary programming skills are important. However, most of the candidates invited for the first interview will already have the skill requirements covered. The skills are, in other words, the bare minimum. What you should be focusing on in the interview, is confidently showcasing the required skills however possible, much like with the age-old advice when it comes to writing; show it, don’t tell it.

What you can do, is bring your previous work, your portfolio, with you. If you have done high-end development work, show the code! If you have designed websites, show the websites! A surprising number of people forget this and simply state their skills, but it is vital to connect it to actual work. Do not just say you have programming experience, elaborate on your programming experience, showcase the awesome program you developed! Talk about some of the challenges you have faced in your work and how you overcame them. Talk about some of the biggest achievements, and say it with pride and passion. The interview is not about you listing off your skillset one by one, your CV already did that for you.

A little knowledge goes a long way

Another surprising thing that many candidates seem to forget before an interview is to do their research on the company and the position they are interviewing for. If this seems like common sense to you, then you have had an advantage in interviews you probably did not even know about. Too many candidates show up at an interview only half prepared, in that they only know their own qualities and how to relay them, and have not done any research on the company and position they are interviewing for.

While it is true that many interviews go both ways, where both the employer and the candidate tell a little bit about themselves and ask questions, you should never assume it to be so. Doing your research does three very crucial things; First, it allows you to avoid asking questions about the company that you should know the answers to, ensuring you do not make a fool of yourself. Second, it allows you to ask specific questions that you could not find the answers to on their company website, showing your interest and curiosity. Third, it allows you to answer questions precisely and correctly when they ask what you can do for the company, which brings us to the next part.

Know which problems you can help solve

Many candidates are focused on what the job can offer them – what the salary is, which benefits are on offer, how their life will change if they land the job etc. These are all sensible things to think about, but what is certainly more important at the interview itself is to think like the employer – what are they getting? Yes, they are getting your skillset, but we have already covered that. Instead, you can use the research you did on the company to figure out the specific challenges they are facing and give your take on what could be done to help.

If you are interviewing as a UX developer or designer, you may have noticed that the company in question has a confusing layout when it comes to their menus, that their website is a little on the slow side or any number of other things. This is where you can come with suggestions on how you could solve these things for them, showing your enthusiasm for the position. You have not been hired yet, and you have already started working. Chances are that they already know about whichever problems or challenges they have, and perhaps your suggestions have even been attempted, but that is alright, do not let it deter you. As long as you do not come across arrogant, then lecturing them about their many faults (“suggestions for improvements”), then the interviewers are sure to appreciate that you took the time to assess what challenges they are facing and how said challenges can be attacked. This brings me to the final part of the article.

A fitting personality

This part can be tricky. While it may take a few interviews for employers to know whether they should hire you, more often they can decide you are not the right fit within the first five minutes of meeting you. As the saying goes, first impressions matter. I can certainly testify, that first impressions truly matter! A personality match is something that both candidates and employers are interested in, as a bad fit does not suit either, and while it is easy to rattle off a list of personality traits that will help you, many of them are contradictory. This is quite simply because we all value different traits in others. One thing Payne Search can offer our candidates is that we will know the personality of the interviewer and can prepare our candidates accordingly. We also find candidates that we feel will best fit our client’s culture too.

Because of this, the best advice we can give our candidates is to learn how to read people and situations. See how they are responding to what you say, and adapt accordingly. Some employers value confidence above all else, others prefer candidates with a humble approach. Again, this is where having done the research on a company is helpful, as it can provide clues to what kind of person the employer is looking for. Two personality traits we can say are always welcome, regardless of the position in question, are passion and enthusiasm. You should never have to fake passion and enthusiasm, and if you find yourself doing so, then you should reflect on whether the position really is something you are looking for.

At Payne Search, we do not just match the right candidates with the right clients, we also coach our candidates, ensuring that they do as well as possible for the interviews, and give them helpful feedback no matter the outcome. I hope this article has been helpful, and wish you the best of luck!

My passion for Blockchain, and moving into this Industry

The past few years the word ‘blockchain’ has regularly popped up on my radar, so I decided to really research deeper, and I can honestly say that I believe this technology has immense potential for both businesses and end-users. After 15+ years of recruiting for the finance and IT sector, it is the newly emerging blockchain technology that has really encapsulated me the most, and it feels natural and right to branch out into this direction. Therefore, with Payne Search I have done just that. It is incredibly satisfying to do something I love, combining my passion for recruitment with an exciting industry that is blockchain.

I have been asked by people who want to know more about blockchain, and what it really is, as my network has noticed my new-found passion! Now, I’m no expert on the technological aspects of it, and I’m certainly not a developer. What I do have is experience recruiting people within the Fintech and digital transformation space, and I speak to the people that are looking to use the blockchain technology.

Therefore, I have decided to write a short article in which I will attempt to clarify what blockchain is, and how it could potentially interest you!

What is blockchain?

First thing’s first, you don’t actually need to understand how blockchain technology works in order to use it, much like you don’t need to know how the internet or your smartphone works. However, it’s important to have at least a basic idea of this technology in order to understand why so many find it ground-breaking. This article would be endless, if I were to really go into the details, so I’ll try to limit myself to the essentials.

Blockchain started as the invention of Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonym for a person or group of people (the true identity is still a mystery!). The whitepaper for Blockchain was published almost 10 years ago (October 31st, 2008) by ‘Satoshi Nakomoto’. One of the main problems the blockchain initially addressed, was removing the need for a trusted authority or central server when transferring digital currency. In fact, Bitcoin, the crypto asset most of us have heard by now, became the first digital currency to solve the double-spending problem – a flaw in digital cash in which the same token can be used twice – without using a centralised system.

Blockchain has evolved rapidly since then, and become something far greater than initially anticipated. It was originally intended for the use of bitcoin, but its uses are nearly limitless. In short, the blockchain is a decentralised, incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions, that can be programmed to record anything we find valuable. The ingeniousness of the blockchain is the security and its decentralised nature.

A transaction on the blockchain could be as follows; you decide to use some of your bitcoin and initiate a transaction. The transaction is broadcasted to a network of peer-to-peer connected computers known as nodes, which then validates the transaction with algorithms. After verification is complete, the transaction is combined with other transactions to create a new block of data, which is added to the existing blockchain – permanent and unalterable – and the transaction is complete.

If this is still confusing, I understand, it can be quite difficult to wrap your head around it. Suffice to say, the blockchain allows transactions of information that are literally incorruptible, due to it not being centralised. In order to hack it, you would have to hack the majority of all nodes (computers) that make up the network, which is extremely unlikely to happen.

There are an infinite number of uses for blockchain technology, and ICOs (initial coin offerings for start-ups in the blockchain space) are taking advantage of this, by offering a variety of services on the blockchain. It is looking something akin to the dot-com boom, where companies were jumping on to utilising the benefits of the web. Well, now we are in the early adoption period of companies looking to be first to market with utilising blockchain technology to offer a unique business service.

Obviously, not all of these services will turn out to be profitable, not all companies will be successful, but it’s easy to see the business value for data to be completely secure, and utilizing a decentralized network. For instance, you can send Bitcoin to someone in another part of the world without having to pay a bank for the transaction, and this transaction is very fast.

Another great way that blockchain could be employed that I find exciting, is within the public as well as private record keeping. An idea that I had could be that universities can store all exam grades/transcripts on current and previous students on the blockchain, and this data could be easily accessible anytime, without the need to go through the university. It would also be impossible to falsify these records without altering all subsequent blocks in the chain – something that would require the agreement of a majority of the network of nodes, which obviously would not happen. In summary, candidates’ university records are safe online, accessible anytime, and completely accurate data. Being a recruiter, this would be incredibly useful for me, and for my clients.

How can blockchain benefit us?

On a personal level, blockchain could benefit us because it could mean services we are already using will soon have far more appealing alternatives. For example, why use Spotify or iTunes if a similar service becomes available where your money goes straight to the artist instead of Spotify or iTunes taking a significant cut? Naturally, from a music artist’s side, they hugely benefit from increased revenue, and the channels to market are significantly widened. The same argument can be applied to many other services. Blockchain has the ability to disrupt huge parts of society, so for that reason alone, I would argue it is worth it to try getting a better understanding of it.

On a business level – and this is where it becomes immensely interesting for me as a recruiter – it is imperative that you stay in touch with where technology is going next. This is a perfect time for companies to take the tentative first steps into the world of blockchain, and for that, you need to hire the right people to help you with development. Similarly, the large amount of new ICOs means that a huge number of specialised developers are needed in order to create the technology needed to bring their visions to life, and this is where myself and my company Payne Search comes in. It will be hugely gratifying to be able to partner with these companies to bring blockchain to the masses, improving future services and ways of working.

Right now one of the biggest challenges companies who want to work with blockchain technology is facing, is finding the right people to do the job. Fortunately, I love challenges and I love recruiting, it is what I do! I have always found it gratifying to search and headhunt the ‘hard to find’ candidates, the top 5%. So now, Payne Search operates in this space of Blockchain recruitment!

3 year anniversary of Code Resourcing – Launch of our new website and logo!

My passion for Blockchain, and moving into this Industry

Some tips for doing a great job interview!

3 year anniversary of Code Resourcing – Launch of our new website and logo!

This month marks the 3 year anniversary of Code Resourcing! It has been an amazing journey and experience so far, where we have seen ourselves grow, not just in size but with a new focus and direction. So now the timing is right to launch our brand new website, and in this article, we will talk a little bit about this.

Code Resourcing has naturally evolved from ‘IT and Finance’ into recruiting within the blockchain space. This is a rapidly growing industry and technological breakthrough, where there is a high demand for skilled employees within this new space. We see this as a perfect opportunity to combine two things we are extremely passionate about, recruitment and blockchain, and to provide the very best to our clients. This does not mean we are moving away from recruiting the pure finance and IT professionals– we merely see blockchain as a natural extension of what we are already doing.

Because of this expansion within Code Resourcing, we decided it was time for our new website and logo, which fully reflects who we are and what we do. We feel that this new website covers how we see ourselves as a company and our passion for our work.

The first thing we had in mind for our new website was the functionality. We are a recruitment company, and it is important that our potential candidates see this, and that they can easily sign up to our database and browse our available positions. Likewise, it should be easy for clients to see what we do and can contact us and enquire about our services.

We did not want the website to be too text-heavy or have numerous tabs and menus. Because of this, we opted for a one-page scroller, taking the user on a journey where they learn who Code Resourcing are. We believe that each part of the website should be telling you a little bit about us. The Twitter feed gives insight into our daily postings about blockchain and recruitment. In the same way, the team, clients and location sections each tell a little part of the entire story that is Code Resourcing.

For the design of the website, we wanted it to immediately reflect that our target clients are within the IT and blockchain industry, which is why we decided on the moving nodes in the background representing the decentralised nature of blockchain. These nodes can also represent us connecting to clients and to candidates. We wanted the same thing for our logo, which is why it came out as three connected nodes, with two of them forming the O’s in Code Resourcing.

At Code Resourcing we value teamwork, and the whole team was part of the decision-making process for the website during our ‘creative Fridays’ at the office. We would also like to acknowledge everyone else involved; A huge thank you to Memoo Webbureau who were the developers of the website – it was a pleasure working with them. They were helpful and understanding of our needs and requests, and we can only recommend them. Another thanks goes out to Chelsea Bellomy, who created our logo and several of the designs for the website, and finally thanks for the consulting work of Naim Digital (Javor Loznica and Mikael Bondum), who project managed it all!