What hiring managers want data scientists to know

What hiring managers want Data Scientists to know

Published on 25th September 2018

It’s no secret that Data Scientists are extremely in demand, we’ve all seen the statistics on how this field is growing at an incredible pace. For a job that has such a widespread need, there is a huge gap in the market between skilled candidates and available jobs. It’s time to close that gap!

As a Recruitment Consultant in the Analytics space, I have partnered with Hiring Managers at Melbourne’s most technically advanced and sought-after companies to work for. There are distinct trends I’ve seen in hiring and I’ve narrowed down this list to three very important qualities: Technical Skills, Curiosity, and Business Acumen. 
 
If you have all three of these skills you will be massively successful in your career as a Data Scientist and if you don’t, I’m here to get you on the right path!
 

Technical Skills:

Let’s start with the obvious one, to be a good Data Scientist there is no doubt you need to have strong technical abilities. Data Scientists should have a solid programming background and mathematical optimisation skills. The point I’d like to make is how do you acquire those technical skills? The most common questions I get from Data Scientists is how important are degrees and qualifications?
 
The simple answer is: you don’t need a PhD or even an analytics degree to be an excellent Data Scientist. Many Hiring Managers have shared that Higher Education in the field of Data Science is most important because of the research skills it teaches you. If you don’t have that coveted qualification, there is plenty of relevant (and free) content online that you can study to improve your skills. In fact, more often than not a Hiring Manager would prefer to employ someone with industry experience and a few courses rather than someone who’s recently completed their PhD with no industry experience yet.
 
A less obvious technical skill that Hiring Managers wish Data Scientist had or want them to at least be open to is cross-training in other areas, for example as a Software Engineer. Some of my clients strictly hire Data Scientists who are willing to learn other areas so the team can work more collaboratively and in a truly agile way. This also prevents any egos that Data Scientists might have who believe they will never have to do any data wrangling (which I’m sorry to say, will be the majority of your job!). 
 

Curiosity:

Most Hiring Managers will tell you Curiosity is a key trait of any successful Data Scientist. In an ever-changing industry where whatever new revolutionary methodology or tool used today is tomorrow’s old news, the most successful Data Scientists are the ones who show a genuine interest in analytics trends and are constantly testing new tools and methodologies.  
 
Curiosity breeds knowledge and knowledge breeds innovation and if you are the Data Scientist who is keeping up with our ever-changing industry and bringing innovation to your team then you become indispensable to any Hiring Manager. 
 
A curious person will also be one who is comfortable with ambiguity. They will ask the WHY before the HOW and start with the business problem instead of the data. *Hot Tip* – you will be asked in all interviews how you handle ambiguity. I recommend having a few examples in your interview arsenal. 
 

Business Acumen:

This is the career-defining skill as a Data Scientist. How dramatic, I know! All jokes aside, your ability to view the problem holistically and incorporate a number of factors in your model is key. To get a Senior or Lead role as a Data Scientist your business savvy is an important qualification. You should be able to run client/stakeholder meetings, work with cross-functional teams collaboratively and know how to speak to stakeholders in a non-technical way. 
 
To be an amazing Data Scientist who all the Hiring Managers want to hire, I encourage you to nurture your curiosity, to develop your technical skills and practice your business acumen.