Hiring Data Science Talent for Technology Startups

Hiring Data Science

Hiring Data Science Talent

Data Science is an increasingly important component of the startup world, and the demand for data science professionals continues to increase. For startups, finding the right talent can prove to be difficult. Our executive search team explains what to look for when searching for startup data science talent.

Data Science Is Still Emerging

It is pretty tough to find a career “Data Scientist,” because quite honestly the landscape for this career is relatively young. Data Science is an emerging field of focus being occupied currently by transplants from other professions. Many organizations have even sought to train their own employees with existing transferable skills and the right knowledge of the organization to fill their data science needs, rather than seek out professionals in the market. And while there are true data science professionals out there, the education system is just now starting to produce graduates to fill the market gap.

Startups Need the Whole Package

For technology startups with the need for a data science professional, this situation presents a big hiring challenge. In larger organizations, several people can come together with different skill sets to do the job. For startups, the need for data science-focused talent will come early on. And with a limited budget for hiring, this role must be filled by a master of all data science trades, to include mathematics, programming, machine learning, databases and multi-source data management, analysis and technology familiarity, among other skills.

A Broad Skillset is A Good Start

The hard skills of the data scientist encompass a broad range of disciplines, but end up only being the qualifiers. The role of the data scientist is rarely to execute, and almost always to find solutions and sell them to the rest of the team. For a startup, the focus will most likely be more narrow, and the reality is that without quality soft skills, the solutions that the data scientist uncovers might never be valued. This person must be able to not only translate complex ideas into simpler language, but they must also be able to sell their work-based solutions to the rest of the organization. Keep in mind too that communication and salesmanship aren’t the only necessities. The position’s work more often than not requires a thorough understanding of the organization, its product, its goals and its operations; it is otherwise difficult to provide value. This professional must also be curious and creative in their thinking, so that crafting solutions is a more natural result.

And Yes, You Do Need a Rockstar Programmer

Many sources suggest that companies focus on finding professionals with the business and data acumen, and worry less about the programming skills and technology usage. This advice is based on the idea that other talent within, or outside of, the organization can fill in the remaining need. But for a startup, most often its limited funds and resources will dictate the necessity of a technologically self-sufficient data scientist.

From This Crowd, Find Those with Startup DNA

Of the talent possessing the hard and soft skills the data scientist role demands, you have to further identify those that specifically bring a startup mentality to the table. For startups, this person must not only be capable across all facets the data science world demands, but also be able to bring these skill sets to the high stress, intense workload environment that is a startup. They need to bring the talent, the skills and the passion that your startup needs to survive, grow and succeed.

Above All, They Must Fit Your Culture

Beyond everything discussed above, the biggest qualifier comes down to whether your candidate can work with the rest of your team and believes in the startup’s vision. After all, your team will be sitting in a room with this person day in and day out doing difficult work and pushing hard to produce. All the talent, drive and passion in the world can go to waste if the hire you bring in can’t mesh with your team.

Startups need top talent to grow and succeed. Hiring data science professionals can prove to be challenging for startups, so utilize the resources at your disposal, tap your network of investors and advisors, and enlist the help of a startup executive search firm. The result of hiring the right talent will pay great dividends down the line.

Photo courtesy of Indeed Job Trends.

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