How To Actually Find And Hire Data Scientists

How To Actually Find And Hire Data Scientists

Big data remains a hot topic, and that means finding and hiring qualified data scientists is trickier than ever. Here are some tactics you can use to help fill the gap.

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Analyst Alexander Linden spoke on this topic at the Gartner Business Intelligence, Analytics & Information Management summit. This is a selection of his most pertinent observations.

Give up on trying to hire unicorns

If someone already has in-depth knowledge on how to use core big data tools and also has in-depth business knowledge, they will be the ideal data scientist — but there’s also no way you’ll be able to afford them. They can pick and choose their jobs, and unless you’re a ridiculously attractive employer with great benefits and impressive prospects, you won’t even be in the running. “It’s even tough to hire core data scientists — that’s the reason industry is going after ‘citizen data scientists’ with basic skills,” Linden said.

Take a simpler approach but recognise its limits

“There are many shrink-wrapped turnkey advanced analytics packages out there, where you don’t need to know data science to the nth degree,” Linden notes. Those can certainly be helpful and get your more insights than standard business reports, but they won’t give you the benefits of a full big data approach. “If you’re going to differentiate itself, you have to be aware that analytics is the area with the largest footprint in IT.” Choosing an unsuitable tool is unlikely to lead to actionable insights.

Start building basic skills with interns

Linden advocates checking local universities for students doing IT, statistics, science or engineering. “Do not forget the students. Hire them as interim data scientists. Pay them $1000 a month.” (In Australia, minimum wage laws would probably require a higher pay level, but the principle still works.)

Keep data scientists centralised

While it might seem appealing to attach data scientists to specific divisions or projects, centralising them allows them to take a broader business view. “Think of it as a resource, not a department,” Linden said.

Evolve is a regular column at Lifehacker looking at trends and technologies IT workers need to know about to stay employed and improve their careers.