The obstacles of securing a data job

Toni Sekinah, research analyst and features editor, DataIQ

I bumped into an acquaintance at a data event last month. I remembered that they had been job hunting and so asked how the search was going. They happily told me that they had been hired and were really enjoying their new job as a data analyst.

Knowing that it is a seller’s market with those possessing data skills in extremely high demand, I asked about their experience of the hiring process.

They sighed. Uninformed HR staff, phone interviews and hidden salary ranges were the biggest bug bears.

The lack of understanding of the role by some HR professionals of a data analyst was quite commonplace. They were usually asked the same basic questions in various guises.

What are your strengths? How would you integrate into a new team? Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Two women shaking handsThey found it difficult to convey enthusiasm about the prospective role when they were unable to use technical data terms or references, since the HR staff they spoke to had a limited understanding of what goes on in the field of data and analytics.

First round phone interviews, also known as phone screens, were very frustrating. They found it nearly impossible to read visual cues and body language and adjust the answer accordingly.

Does a pause in the conversation mean that the interviewer wants you to keep talking, or are they making notes on what you have just said? An interviewee in this situation is effectively blind.

Employers across many industries withhold salary ranges for their open positions which is infuriating for anyone looking for work. The salary range gives a clear indication of the seniority of a post and the amount of experience and types of qualifications that are required.

For those looking for data science roles which command average salaries of approximately £36,500, it can be quite aggravating to go through a long interview process only to be offered the job and then being disappointed by the low earnings available.

My acquaintance was extremely frustrated at going through a one-day interview, only to be offered a job with a salary £10,000 less than they were looking for. This meant a lot of time was wasted on both sides simply because the company couldn’t afford them and didn’t say so from the get-go.

It might be worth companies that are looking for data talent ironing out possible bumps in the road of acquiring and hiring that talent. Allowing prospective data professionals to talk freely face-to-face about their long-term goals with someone who understands the industry, and advertising how much the job pays from the very beginning, are just two of the things that can be done to make that journey smoother.

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