Managers struggling to find data hires must look to alterative strategies

Managers can have a hard time when it comes to finding data scientists or AI guys to fill their teams. Sure, on the surface, it looks like any other candidate search but there are a few things that generally hold back their company’s progress in the data field and sometimes it can take a while before the mistakes are spotted. Companies have never spent as much money hiring people as they do today, and so much of that is wasted because the standard way of doing things is so out of date.

One of the recurring problems, when a manager is trying to fill a data position, is that they do not know what they are looking for to begin with. This can lead to confusion, with job specs changing during the process or over an extended period with round after round of attempted hirings still resulting in unsuitable candidates and a lot of wasted time and money.

This is extremely profligate and occurs with great frequency in companies that recruit and hire in-house. Managers are adrift, having to fend for themselves, working out for themselves, and on their own, what they need and how the job ads should be worded. Software is then used to sort resumes by keywords. The company may have also purchased a license for a new piece of software that promises to be the magic bullet for hiring.

Despite what is promised, there is no shortcut to strong results when it comes to recruitment. Trying to build a data team is difficult at the best of times, let alone when requirements aren’t locked down. A constantly shifting need only makes the job even harder to do and without an expert there to step in and correct the missteps, the missteps will only continue.

Shifting job specs are a real problem in relation to data jobs. It can be a huge change, like a switch from a data scientist to a big data developer, or a more understandable error, like changing from a search for ‘a clicker’ to a ‘coder’ data scientist. Whatever the necessary position and whatever the advertised position, one thing is clear: the confusion is draining resources.

Recruiters can offer the solution but not all recruiters are made equal. There is a stark gap between a recruiter who has partnered with a company and is offering a consultative service, and a generalist recruiter working on commission. The recruiters who are working on commission alone are a law unto themselves. Even if you fail to factor in the fact that recruitment has pretty much no regulation, there can be some cut-throat operators out there.

Let’s say that you require a data scientist. You set a task to a recruiter to brings in the candidate and they come back with a great lead, perfect for what you are looking for, and you are willing to pay the fee. The only problem is that another company is also looking for that same data scientist and their fee is higher. Because the recruiter has no loyalty to your company, the generalist recruiter will take the higher offer. If this isn’t dealt with, it will happen over and over, and your data project will fall further and further behind. Sharing prospects is not illegal and, without exclusivity, you cannot blame a recruiter for taking more money. As a manager, you must know that there are other options open to you.

Another aspect of recruitment that is rarely acknowledged is the fact that, without a partnership agreement, generalist recruiters can just give up. When the task becomes too hard or a few possible prospects have been rejected, a recruiter can just stop working for you and move on to an easier task for someone else.

These are not the only problems facing harassed managers trying to fill data positions, but they are the major ones, and they are all avoidable. If you don’t have the knowledge, find someone with the knowledge. If you are dissatisfied with the results you are getting from the recruiters in which you have placed your trust, build a relationship. The results will surprise you.

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