Data Scientists: Attracting the Best

December 26th, 2014

Data scientists are among today’s most wanted business visionaries. Because they possess game-changing data intelligence skills, Harvard Business Review has termed theirs “the sexiest job of the 21st century.” Wow … they may just make the cover of People one of these days!

The job title data scientist was first coined in 2008 by D.J. Patil and Jeff Hammerbacher, respective heads of data and analysis at LinkedIn and Facebook, though experts argue that the function was in place for a number of years beforehand. Much of the current demand for these high-ranking professionals focuses on the technologies and professional capabilities that make it possible to harness Big Data. These include Apache Hadoop, the most widely used framework for distributed file system processing, as well as cloud computing, data visualization and:

  • Structured query learning (SQL)
  • Machine learning techniques
  • Python
  • Data mining
  • Apache Java, Hive and Pig
  • The MathWorks MATLAB
  • Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS)

Your challenge as an employer is to identify the best data science talent, attract it to your organization, and make it productive and profitable.

Demonstrate a Data Science Culture

The first thing a good data scientist will listen for when interviewing is confidence that you understand the difference between data science and data analysis. Businesses attuned to this distinction have a recruitment advantage over those who lump all their data roles together.

  • A common misperception is that data scientists do analysis and reporting. In fact, data science happens long before the “ah-ha” moments that occur in data analysis.
  • Create a culture that encourages curiosity and creativity. The most satisfied data scientists are those who are continuously learning about your enterprise and industry through both direct research and opportunities to view both from new angles. Encourage your data science team to participate in relevant events nationally and globally. They tend to be eager to learn from one another and to showcase their own work. And, this enables them to stay current with cutting-edge industry developments.

Crowdsourcing to Attract Data Science Talent

There are approximately 1,285 data science jobs in the United States – a 57 percent increase from a year ago. About 3,800 data scientists work in the U.S., so there are roughly three people employed in this occupation for every job being advertised.

However, the tide is beginning to turn in terms of meeting Big Data job demand. A fair number of colleges now have data science offerings. In 2013, 54,000 people graduated with some kind of related education.

  • Reach out to schools to fill jobs with new grads. Participate in job fairs, apprenticeships and on-campus recruitment programs. Offer your current industry experts as speakers or ad hoc instructors.
  • Look at companies that already employ data science talent. Dive into the passive candidate pool. Work with your recruitment firm for the best business intelligence to make this happen. Salary demands will quickly heighten when competitors engage in a talent bidding war. Recruiters and sourcers need to have this conversation as you plot your strategy.

Is your company looking to attract data science talent? Contact the specialized recruitment experts at Select Group, Inc., for the insight, resources, contacts and expertise you need to realize your goals.

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