Data Science is described as “the career of the future,” but finding Data Scientists for your company could be a major challenge. Here is how you could find one for your company.

As demand keeps growing for people with the expertise to manage, analyze and safely store ever-larger sets of data, the supply of candidates isn’t keeping pace. As of this writing, Glassdoor lists more than 6,500 open data scientist positions. LinkedIn reports that 4,000 new data science jobs were created last year, in the U.S. alone. And experts don’t expect the candidate pipeline to fill up any time soon. 

How can your organization find the Data Science talent it needs to grow? To be sure, competitive compensation and benefits matter. But there are plenty of organizations offering those—the median base salary for data scientists in the U.S. is more than $100,000. 

To make your company an employer of choice for Data Scientists, here are the steps I recommend. These recommendations are based on my decade-plus working in a company founded by Data Scientists—a company that’s grown from a few dozen people to nearly 2,000 employees during my tenure. 

Train current employees to work with data

Even if your employer brand is flawless, you may have trouble finding candidates as quickly as you need them. Some organizations are getting around this pipeline problem by developing data talent in-house. Citizen Data Scientists combine their own areas of expertise with training in analytics to leverage data for efficiency gains, growth and innovation in their departments.

Promote Data Science to career changers

Bring your employer brand to regional job fairs and veterans’ employment events. People looking for a career change and those who have recently left the military often have experience and skills that can serve them well in a citizen Data Scientist role. Seek out candidates that you can hire for attitude and experience and train for analytical skills. 

Go where the data scientists are—or where they want to be

This suggestion is one to keep in mind when you’re choosing locations for expansion. If you’re looking to recruit a steady stream of Data Scientists fresh out of school, it may be cost-effective to set up shop near one of the top-rated universities for data science graduate programs so you can more easily establish relationships with students there. 

Connect with schools for talent development

Build relationships with colleges and universities to promote your internship programs and career opportunities. Visit school career events and offer to speak in classes about data science and your company. Offer “shadow days” where students can follow a data scientist on your staff to see the types of projects they work on. Promote your company’s internship opportunities. 

You might also consider a tech hub like San Francisco, San Jose or New York where there’s a large pool of data talent. However, keep in mind that locating in an area where Data Science salaries are highest means you need to match or beat those offers in order to attract and keep talent. 

That’s why another option is to consider locating in smaller cities that are tech-friendly and have a great quality of life and a lower cost of living. For example, the Raleigh-Durham area is a popular location for tech firms who want to attract and retain talent without breaking their salary budget. And many people would rather live somewhere with fewer crowds and cheaper real estate. 

Not sure where to open your next location? We used data analytics to compare median salaries, cost of living, local taxes and other data points to choose our US base. Your organization can do the same.

Strengthen your employer brand to attract Data Scientists

Your company’s culture and reputation must be attractive to prospective candidates, or they will simply pass you over for other options. Today’s candidates have access to a wealth of insights about employers, drawn from employee review sites, social media conversations and in-person discussions at career networking events

Let candidates know about the meaningful projects your company offers. Monitor your company’s mentions, reviews and employee satisfaction. See what’s working and promote that. Find what needs improvement and start fixing those things.

Hire your Data Scientists for the long term

When you need a role filled quickly or have rapid growth goals, it’s tempting to overlook signs that a potential hire might not be the right fit. However, it’s important to make sure you hire Data Scientists who will be a good fit. That protects your company culture and reduces the risk that your new hire will quickly leave for another opportunity.

During my company’s growth from two dozen to almost 2,000 people, we’ve gathered and analyzed hiring data to help us identify who’s likely to stay on the job for at least six months and who isn’t. (In our case, it’s a combination of the candidate’s work experience, a pre-hire logical thinking test score and other factors.) By focusing on candidates who are the most likely to stay, we can make more cost-effective hiring decisions and reliably predict our growth trajectory. 

Finding Data Scientists for your company is a challenge, but it’s possible. With a strong employer brand, a willingness to identify and train citizen Data Scientist candidates, strong outreach programs and smart hiring practices, your company can build a competitive edge in the race to hire data talent

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