Attract Data Science Talent with These 3 Tips

Organizations are at a crossroads. The demand for data science talent has surged in recent years alongside the widespread artificial intelligence and machine learning adoption, technology advancements, and businesses seeking to scale with data. As the race for innovation shows no signs of stopping, filling these open positions requires organizations to go beyond salary and traditional workplace benefits to attract—and retain—data science and software engineering talent. By rethinking their approaches to recruiting, hiring, and managing employees, organizations can better identify the “intangible” aspects of holding a job, like culture and workplace autonomy, that employees have come to value.

Here are three ways organizations can attract data science and software engineering candidates today:

1. Show employees how you’ll help them grow

Amid the Great Resignation and Great Reshuffle, millions of Americans have quit their jobs to find professional opportunities that better align with a diverse list of desired options—one of which is a growth opportunity. Understanding how they can grow in their roles has always been important to employees who want clarity regarding their career trajectories. This requires a commitment from employers to support their employees’ professional development and provide transparency around their potential growth paths within the company.

Leaders should create clear career mapping tracks for individual contributors and managers, allowing each to see the steps necessary to reach their goals. If career trajectories are communicated from the start, organizations will be enabled to welcome the best data and software practitioners worldwide while embracing a culture of trust and transparency.

Encourage data scientists and engineers to join community forums and attend industry events for deeper professional development opportunities. Opportunities like these allow companies to promote individual growth and network with potential candidates within the community.

2. Go beyond traditional benefits

Salary and insurance offerings are two of the most basic employee benefits companies default to. While these are essential elements for attracting and retaining talent, organizations should think outside the box for other creative perks desired by today’s candidates.

Increasingly, organizations that prioritize employees’ mental, physical, and emotional well-being are at a competitive advantage over others. For example, with burnout becoming a common concern among industries, companies should consider company-wide designated days off to relax and recharge. Work perks like quarterly wellness stipends, no-meeting days, or subscriptions to companies like Talkspace or Call all show employees how much the organization cares for them. It’s also important to provide the time and space for employees to do work they are most passionate about. Organizations should consider having consistent hackathon days or “Open-Source Fridays,” where data scientists and engineers can contribute to open-source projects they care about.

Even when it comes to more traditional aspects of compensation, like salary, strive to be open to innovation and in tune with the needs of today’s professionals. Offer salary transparency for each employee, with benchmarks in the industry for their title, where they live, and how their salary compares to other jobs with the same title. Structure salary increases based on the industry benchmarks of a specific role within a particular job market, and then share those benchmarks for transparency.

3. Stay engaged with employees and welcome feedback

As the last two years have shown, we need to be ready to continually refine workplace cultures and employee experiences in response to a changing world. To that end, it’s also important to stay responsive to employee feedback and suggestions as change is navigated together.

The best data scientists follow what their data tells them — if there is no open dialogue between employees and senior company leaders, organizations ignore a crucial source of data in the decision-making surrounding company culture. Some organizations may succeed by introducing senior leadership office hours, anonymous monthly “Ask Me Anything” sessions, bi-annual employee engagement surveys, and recurring “pulse” surveys.

These efforts ensure organizations do not remain stagnant and distant from what matters most to employees, but rather take an empathetic and responsive approach to meet the needs of their people.

Put Employees First Today and Every Day

With an abundance of open positions and a seemingly limited number of candidates, employees’ needs should be at the forefront of attracting and retaining the best talent possible.

As data scientists search for personally and professionally fulfilling roles, it’s essential for organizations to be explicit in how they prioritize employee growth, the benefits offered beyond traditional mainstays, and how company culture is nurtured.

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