How To Attract A Great Data Scientist

Data scientists are critical today.
‘The most in-demand tech job for 2024 isn’t in artificial intelligence, software development or even cybersecurity.’

Within the next 10 years, a company’s key asset won’t be the items or products it sells, but the data behind its products and customers.

In 2024 and beyond, companies will be looking to transform data into an asset and use it in an actionable way. Manufacturers will sell data solutions for predictive maintenance, retailers will offer more precise customer personalization in marketing, professional services business will have a strong ability to forecast. Thus, the most in-demand tech job for 2024 isn’t in artificial intelligence, software development or even cybersecurity. This year’s hottest new job title is data scientist, an interdisciplinary role that uses statistics, scientific computing, algorithms and more to extract insights from data.

In a few short months, companies from both inside and outside of tech will be clamoring to hire data scientists from a shallow pool of talent, so it will be important for leaders to know how to attract and retain this role for their organizations.

What is a data scientist?

First, understanding what a data scientist is, and how it is different from other data roles, is critical. The role of data scientist is relatively new, first popping up around 2008. At its core, a data scientist analyzes and interprets complex and disparate structured and unstructured data in order to glean insights that will assist business leaders with their decision-making and provide new data solutions to their customers.

A data scientist models data, uses the findings to help make informed decisions, and then effectively communicates those learnings to key business leaders. The data scientist role straddles both technology and the product side of the house, and typically reports up through IT but can report into finance, marketing, strategy or operations. Qualified candidates should possess a mix of technical acumen along with the ability to ask the right questions of the business, and turn data into a revenue stream and a valuable asset.

Great data scientists bring curiosity to their role; they determine the right questions to ask and then identify how to answer those questions using data.

How Can Traditional Companies Attract Great Data Scientists?

Create a data-driven culture. To attract a great data scientist, let candidates know that the senior leadership team wants to create a data-driven culture in which the company strategy around data is understood and championed from the top down. This means articulating a clear data strategy and being open to leveraging data in new ways to solve business problems, which will ensure the data scientist you hire will be working in an environment offering interesting work and challenges.

Data scientists should not only report through IT but should also be tied directly into the business so that information can flow freely. It’s also important to ensure that in a culture of data, the broader business is trained in how to use data effectively and safely, so data scientists will see their work being used in meaningful ways to foster innovation.

Recruit the right data scientist for your company. With the role of a data scientist being relatively new, it’s a competitive market for talent. Good candidates will have their pick of opportunities to choose from, so to attract, hire and retain them, your company may need to think creatively.

Data scientists will be able to command top dollar in the market, which can be expensive for your company. One way to recruit qualified talent is to partner with universities and colleges who are known for their data science bachelor’s and master’s degree programs to build a funnel of newly graduated talent to hire into your company. This type of partnership could be fostered by offering on-the-job training to students, or sponsoring mentorship programs which would eventually help to bring the best and brightest into your organization upon graduation.

Consider hiring and training employees from within your company who are sitting in IT, data or the business side. Identify those employees who have industry or data knowledge, a curious and inquisitive mindset and aptitude for learning, and sponsor training programs to help this internal talent base to get degrees or certifications in data science.

In this competitive landscape of recruiting in-demand data scientists, ensure that your company has a well-written job description, one that sells both the role and the culture of the company, and offer a streamlined hiring process that engages candidates throughout the process.

Retain that great hire by providing the right tools and technology. Once you’ve created a data-driven culture that attracts a good talent pool, your company should offer advanced cloud-based tools and methodologies (like Python, Tableau, Power BI) to ensure your data scientists are working with the latest technology offerings in the market. It’s also important to offer a wide diversity of projects and opportunities for them to be challenged by. Early on in their tenure, have your data scientist share some quick wins—proof of their value-add—which will get everyone in the organization on board and foster innovation.

Recruiting a great data scientist will be a key element of success for companies looking to thrive in a data-driven economy. If you haven’t thought about recruiting for this key hire in your organization, the time is now.

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