The Search for Talented Data Experts: Advice for Job Seekers
Changes in technology and automation have drastically altered the employment market, with both positive and negative consequences. Considering the capability to work remotely using a secure private network, candidates are now competing on a global level, meaning individuals need to do more to stand out and organizations have access to a wider pool of talent.
If you’re a jobseeker with a mathematical or statistical background, the good news is that analytics is everywhere, from grocery stores to hospitals to finance! Traditional business intelligence (“BI”) yields just 80% return on investment, versus a 250% ROI for predictive analytics (Source: Gartner Research), which makes data science (typically inclusive of a mix of business, math and psychology disciplines) a hot commodity.
So how can you, as an individual, ensure you’re well prepared for the job market of the future? And how does your company ensure its hiring practices are optimized for the digital world? This two-part series will spell out what’s important from both sides of the employment fence.
As a prospective employee, I would recommend you consider the following three tips to help you stand out from the crowd and get the recognition and job offers you want and deserve.
- Network – actually use your NETWORK to NETWORK!
- Enhance your online reputation and brand
- Embrace your data development as a lifelong learning journey
Network (and actually use your NETWORK to NETWORK!)
How many times have you heard “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? There’s a reason for that! Put yourself in the shoes of a hot technology company…who receive thousands of resumes every day, forcing them to use systems to automatically filter the resumes that make the shortlist (side note: a really smart data scientist probably built that filtering system for them).
Getting a personal introduction to the hiring manager can make or break your opportunity to be invited for an initial interview. Does this sound easier said than done? You’d be surprised! Take a look through your LinkedIn profile. There are probably direct and indirect connections to more organizations than you realized. But, what if there’s not?
Ideally, you are interested in working in a field that you’re passionate about. Chances are that other people are passionate about this too. Local “Meetups” in your city or town are a great way to build a network amongst like-minded peers and be inspired by each other. Search for your closest city and keywords such as “Data Scientist”, “Big Data Developers” or “Predictive Analytics” (another side note: the slogan of “Meetups” is “find your people”…I mean you have to love that!).
Enhance your online reputation and brand
As an extension to networking, social media now plays a huge part in building your online profile. Your resume and references can be made readily available online, validating your skill set and background. Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and that you’re adding those connections from Meetups. Leverage other options, such as Twitter, to remain visible to your target audience and develop your personal brand as a passionate data guru based on who you follow and what you retweet.
There is also an opportunity to showcase your amazing data work through free and highly visible online platforms. For example, Tableau Public allows you to post data visualizations to your personal profile (you can view mine here). And the great thing is that what you show doesn’t even have to be a work-related project…some of the most popular visualizations of 2015 are based on publicly available sports statistics and how the weather impacts flights!
Two of the top 5 Tableau Public dashboards of 2015
Image Source: https://public.tableau.com/s/blog/2016/01/readers-choice-top-5-vizzes-2015
With analytics being so prolific across every organization and industry, you can volunteer your time and expertise to non-profit organizations to build experience and case studies to showcase your skills, from something as simple as running an online survey and visualizing the results, to something as complex as building a propensity to donate model based on census information, Google Public and CRM records. Non-profits are also a fantastic way to hone one of the most important skills in data science: how to translate analytical results in a way that helps business users make better decisions. This is an invaluable skill which is becoming increasingly important in the digital world to bridge the gap between business and data science. Plus, helping a non-profit is not only the right thing to do, but it is also a great differentiator for your resume to show that you are committed to giving back—something that many employers value and are looking for in building a more well-rounded and socially-minded company culture.
Embrace your data development as a lifelong learning journey
Even if you have the formal training or certifications that are required to get your foot in the door as a data analyst or scientist, I firmly believe that education shouldn’t finish simply because you have completed your official studies. To keep your competitive edge and to fuel your intellectual curiosity, it’s healthy and important to stay informed about the latest data topics and trends. Use your social media feeds to follow diverse and well-known publications, such as the Harvard Business Review, Wired Magazine and TechCrunch.
You can also take advantage of no-commitment online curriculums, such as MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), edX, Big Data University and Coursera, to develop your knowledge on the latest Open Source tools, such as R, Python and D3.
And if you really want to put your data skills to the test, you can enter an online data science competition, such as those offered by Kaggle. If you succeed in this arena, you can not only win some pretty serious cash prizes, but also show employers that you have what it takes to solve some of the most complex data challenges faced by the world’s top companies.
In today’s job market, it’s more important than ever to differentiate yourself. A combination of networking, enhancing your online reputation, and continuous development can help you keep one step ahead. Most importantly, you need to perfect the art of presenting analytic results and recommendations in way that’s meaningful to business users, helping them transform data into insight and subsequent action.
Have tips on personal development and keeping yourself relevant for tomorrow’s job market? Leave a comment below.