With demand for data scientists far outstripping available supply, the war for data talent is in full swing. Thus, companies must be extra conscious of their employer branding and how it's perceived by would-be hires.
First, however, let's look at the numbers.
A 2017 IBM study highlighted just how dire the data talent hiring crunch is. Although the number of job openings for data scientists was expected to grow to 61,799 in 2020, that figure represents just 2% of the projected demand across job roles requiring data and analytics expertise.
Business leaders and hiring managers sensitive to those job market realities know that, to ensure organizations have the to execute on their data-driven initiatives, they must think critically about:
In this post, we'll examine the growing importance of employer branding and how those efforts are helping data-drive organizations find and hire top talent.
One challenge hiring organizations must overcome is the changing expectations of today’s data scientists.
Candidates know they’re in high demand, so they’re in a position to insist that their day-to-day work be varied and interesting. In fact, they've been aware of it for awhile now.
As Thomas Davenport and D.J. Patil wrote for the Harvard Business Review in 2012, “Given that today’s most qualified prospects come from nonbusiness backgrounds, hiring managers may need to figure out how to paint an exciting picture of the potential for breakthroughs that their problems offer.”
In the wake of the pandemic, there's an even greater need for companies to clearly signal to prospective job candidates why its worthwhile to sign on.
Compensation is always a factor, but more and more often what data scientists really want is a seat at the table. Rather than being passive data observers, they want to be directly involved in thinking through the companies’ challenges, often at the highest levels.
Again, according to HBR:
“Data scientists don’t do well on a short leash. They should have the freedom to experiment and explore possibilities.”
Meanwhile, and like most modern employees, data talent tends to gravitate toward people-first workplaces.
Employer Branding in Action
Microsoft is one high-profile company that’s invested a great deal in their employer brand and culture, especially since Satya Nadella was elevated to CEO in 2014. Nadella once reportedly had this to say about the culture Microsoft is working to develop:
"You join here, not to be cool, but to make others cool."
This ethos communicates the type of organization candidates can expect to join—one that cares about and prioritizes people.
Microsoft understands the importance employer branding, going so far as to enumerate its company values right on its website for all incoming candidates to see:
This set of values signals that the company is in alignment with where Millenial and Generation Z talent says their values are. At the same time, it reflects today’s heightened concerns by candidates of all ages around data security, especially following numerous high-profile data breaches at top companies.
Zooming in on the second company value, Microsoft wisely signals that it's a responsible, forward-thinking global company that puts a premium on fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace.
And this mindset is key to attracting today’s socially-conscious data scientist job-seekers.
The major news events of the last year have catalyzed a national reckoning on systemic racism and the pervasive injustices faced by underrepresented groups. Many global corporations have responded by renewing efforts around increasing diversity and inclusion at all levels of their organizations.
These efforts matter deeply to today’s workers, particularly among Millennials and Generation X, who make up more than two-thirds of the U.S. labor force. According to ZipRecruiter, close to 90% of these workers say a company’s commitment to workplace diversity affects their decision to work there.
By committing to assembling teams that represent all races and gender identities, firms not only better position themselves to attract talent from younger generations, they also perform better. A 2018 McKinsey report shows that companies in the top quartile of workplace diversity are 33% more likely to financially outperform less-inclusive competitors.
The importance of good corporate citizenship and social impact was borne out in our recent white paper, Top 100 Dream Employers: Where Diverse STEM Talent Aspire To Work.
In it, we surveyed 8,394 students and working professionals from diverse backgrounds to get a pulse of their most-desired places to work. Dozens of impact-focused organizations made the list, including the United Nations, the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Although your own company's mission may not extend to addressing global or national issues, there may be ways to refine workplace culture so that your employer brand can be more competitive.
A great first step? Hiring, developing and mentoring data talent from historically underrepresented groups.
Mentorship is a key component to creating more data science career opportunities for underrepresented groups, which is why it’s a cornerstone of our Data Science for All program.
Through the free fellowship program—funded by our Employer Partners, aspiring data workers are given guidance and advice by career professionals, matching them to opportunities and helping them launch successful careers.
Mentorship not only helps organizations groom the next generation of data scientists, it forges meaningful and lasting relationships with the communities you hope to reach.
If you thoughtfully consider employer branding and recognize the value it can bring to your data talent hiring and retention efforts, then you'll see the value in taking steps to refining your culture and values while also reaching out to elevate emerging talent from underrepresented groups.
Curious to learn more about what we do to help connect employers with rising data talent? Visit our Enterprises page now.