The challenges associated with Data Analytics recruitment

31 July 2017 by Mark Fallon

The challenges associated with Data Analytics recruitment


Adrian Clarke Data, Data Science

Recruiting into the fastest growing sector is not for the faint-hearted. If you’re a hiring manager, talent acquisition manager or senior leader exploring the hiring needs of a data-driven organisation – take a moment, grab a coffee & read on from the perspective of a data science recruitment manager at Alternatives.


How do we manage the constant demand for top talent from our clients?

Rule number one in data analytics resourcing: you have to be selective. The data science & data analytics talent pool is scarce – really scarce. Being realistic- even the most seasoned recruitment partner needs to be picky. Yes; that means working with not just any client and here’s why.

This is a candidate-driven sector; read – candidates rule the roost. It’s not good enough to know you need to hire analytics talent – you need a strategy & a vision to engage & enthral. Our role as talent partners is to find a confluence between your analytics roadmap & the skillsets available right now; not to ‘sell’ roles.

Candidates know that their skills are in high demand. Naturally, it makes sense then to work with organisations who are going to empower and engage great data analysts, data scientists & data insights professionals to do what they do best; make sense of your data and impact on the bottom line.

At Alternatives we like to work with multiple committed clients that give us their time; who encourage us to understand the stage they are on- on their data analytics journey and to ensure that we can bring that story to people who want to listen; our engaged candidates. Without a talent pool to headhunt from it’s almost impossible to deliver good results. If we’re bringing you a talent pool – let’s get things moving – today – not tomorrow and find a balance between supply and constant demand. And if your trust is in the process – work exclusively with us for results; candidates love hearing about ‘exclusive’ opportunities. Our most successful clients utilise this approach


How do we get the best candidates working with us? 

In a candidate-led market where people hide under rocks due to constant LinkedIn ‘InMails’ and mailers every day, a senior recruitment partner needs to stand out to be relevant and do something differently.

At Alternatives; not only do we run candidate events, attend sector specific events and network very much behind the scenes – we meet people who buy into our genuine interest in data analytics and approach us directly as their introductions partner. Marketing, digital and customer-centric roles have evolved & being niche has never been more important to us. The best candidates work with us because we make promises we can deliver upon; largely due to working with clients we can trust to respect the hard work that goes into being a qualified data professional.

Data analytics candidates consistently comment on how many irrelevant LinkedIn messages they receive. Thus being personable & patient is key. Every interaction is part of a journey of commitment between recruiter and candidate and it takes time. Irrespective of much technology your business utilises in securing talent; don’t be fooled – an engaged candidate is one who has bought into the Alternatives approach & ergo the potential of an introduction to working with you as an employer.


Internal talent acquisition departments are surely a challenge when hiring niche talent right?


For anyone who understands the challenges associated with niche hiring particularly in data analytics & insights; the topic of hiring managers being ‘forced’ to use internal resources vs. using a preferred or specialist recruitment supplier appears again and again.

Large generalist recruitment agencies can really make a large dent in a recruitment budget and questions tend to arise regarding what ROI they are giving.

From an Alternatives perspective; internal talent acquisition departments in 2017 are as much a part of our process in ensuring great talent is hired as our priority search methodologies. We work with in-house talent teams to ensure timely interviewing and a   flawless approach when it comes to sharing a client’s brand & vision as well as communicating that so as to handle the perception of your brand before our candidate pool from engagement through to appointment.

Across the analytics market there can often be more live requirements than “active” candidates. Thus the time it takes turning passive “non-looking” candidates into those who would consider a change in role would be a full time job for an internal team.

Further to this we must consider the fact that analytical roles may often account for less than 10% of an internal team’s live vacancies even when in demand. Surely a senior leader has to look at the ROI of working with an analytics recruitment specialist who lives and breathes data against the costs of paying salaries for an internal team to solely work analytics briefs? Again: it has never been more important to be niche.


Counter culture! Where does the increase in salaries and bidding wars end?

There’s no hiding behind the fact that salaries and packages for top analytics talent are rising. Recent graduates with computer science, mathematical and statistical backgrounds can expect up to €40k for an entry level role (this is not, I repeat not hyperbole). Our salary survey may add more light… Marketing and Digital Salary & Sentiment Survey 2016

Typically an external move can look at an uplift of around 10-15% of your base salary, however, we’ve seen as much as 30-40% increases happening with the same figures involved in counter offers and buy backs, but why is this you ask?

It’s simple, the role of an analyst is no longer operational- it’s commercial. Thus is if it costs more to replace or lose this particular skill than it is to add €10k on their annual earnings then why wouldn’t you pay that as a hiring manager?!

Where companies do need to make important decisions is whether they keep paying a premium for external experienced hires, or harvest your own and retain the talent. Either way, the more data that becomes available, the more people you need to analyse it and tell the story behind it…

The role of the seasoned analytics recruitment partner is in being frank. You’re going to lose people if you don’t go to market with an informed sense of reward including benefits in kind and it may come as a surprise to some readers that we note that salary is not everything for most of the data analytics candidates we meet. Again Alternatives steps in an advisory capacity with real time insights on the market place and competitors. We also represent the candidate’s expectations – remember; ultimately their interest in your organisation is key; salary is simply another means to combat your  competitor’s edge in attaining people who will deliver insights that may in all likelihood damage your market share.


Where is our future in the wider recruitment market? 

The challenge associated with data analytics & big data recruitment aren’t simplistic. Over the coming year – job portals, job boards, LinkedIn ads etc. will continue to rise in usage. If you’ve read this far – here’s a little dash of ‘so what’!

Everyone is talking about “big data”, yet so many organisations are still trying to get a hold on what to do with it. And for those that are already ‘miles ahead’ of yours – rest assured that everyone is facing the same ‘war for talent’.

 “Everyone wants to do analytics recruitment, but not everyone knows how to do it”. It takes years to build a recognisable brand like Alternatives and it takes full-time dedicated & immersed recruiters.  It’s not just about matching programming languages to job specifications; it’s about understanding the skills and personalities that data analytics people bring and how their skills add value to your business.

We love what we do, we are passionate about it, and despite the challenges we face, we wouldn’t still be here and growing after 16 years if we didn’t.


In summary:

  • Pick your battles & your recruitment partners wisely.
  • Commit to a search process and consider exclusivity of approach – avoid spamming via LinkedIn.
  • Know how to expedite process to get ahead of your competition.
  • Share a common vision for engaging talent presented to you.
  • Be willing to reward beyond salary.
  • Align with an established recruitment brand like Alternatives to meet candidates that require more time-consuming interactions to secure.


Adrian Clarke is Business Manager for Data Analytics, Insights & CRM at Alternatives.


If this article has struck a chord with you please reach out and contact me at or call +353 (1) 661 8889.