Looking for the latest buzzword in recruitment? It’s ‘Big Data.’

You can’t throw a rock it seems these days, without hitting someone shouting, ‘Big Data!’

As companies amass bits, bytes, and terrabytes of information regarding their customers, potential customers, sales leads et al, they are in hot pursuit of smart, capable businesspeople who can make sense of this collective information so that they, in turn, can make smart and strategic business decisions.

In the old days, big data was viewed as a cost center. These days however, it is a revenue generator. And much like tweens clamoring for tickets outside a One Direction or Katy Perry concert, companies are lining up to hire trained data scientists – people who can discern, decipher, and converse about big data. And the jobs are there for the taking.

Consider this, together Cisco and Oracle had almost 6,000 big data positions available in Q4 2014. Extrapolate that need, and McKinsey predicts that within the next three years, the U.S. will face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with analytics capabilities and 1.5 million managers who know how to translate data into business decisions.

Most likely, your company will be on the lookout for the missing million plus professionals to fill those data scientist spots. Where will you find and recruit them? And once you have convinced them to join you, how do you prevent them from leaving the fold?

Top Tips to Find Data Talent
What do I recommend to my clients who want to attract big data talent? Some of it is old school; simply doing the basics well. But I also recommend that they radically adjust their perspectives from even five years ago. It’s a candidate’s market in general, even more so when searching for big data skill sets. These are my top tips for recruiting and hiring big data talent.
Bring structure to the unstructured. People often think of data in highly organized terms. But big data’s not found in a financial spreadsheet. It’s spread across a universe of information and requires people with curious and questioning minds to link disparate information into a coherent plan for business advancement.
Go back to school. Chances are high that your next big data hire may have little to no business experience. But if they have the ability to conduct complex research and experiment with different hypotheses and concepts, they have the intellectual foundation necessary to succeed. University environments are the most logical places to look.
Move quickly. Agree to meet interested candidates anytime; anywhere and make job offers within days; not weeks. There’s so much demand for top talent that taking weeks or months to interview, review, and assess candidates will almost guarantee failure. Get the deal done before your competitor does.
Be strong out of the gate and prepare to counter. Once you find the right candidate, be prepared to pay—not only to hire them, but to retain them as well. Remember, data scientists are in high demand and according to Wanted Analytics, the median salary for people with big data resumes is $103,000. My own experience puts the number even higher. Make a strong initial offer to both capture a candidate’s attention and deter competitors. For data scientists already in your employ, always be ready to assess and counter.

In my next blog post: From Universities to Labs and LinkedIn, I’ll share some more valuable tips on how to find the best candidates for any analytics-related job.

For an in-depth look at how to find and hire great data scientists, download my white paper here.