5 Steps for Hiring the Right Data Professional

Aug 02, 2016 • Business, Data
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Businesses want to harness the abilities of data science to drive their own success, and this requires a highly qualified data professional. However, while there are many experts already in the job market or newly arriving, finding the one who suits your company and can drive real results is hard. New skills are needed, and data itself is ever evolving. How can you find an excellent professional the first time and ensure the working relationship stays positive for the long-term? Here are five steps for hiring the right data professional for your company.

1. Know the Exact Job Description

You hear “data scientist” and imagine a single person with all the skills you need to leverage data for the good of your company. Unfortunately, that’s as inaccurate as calling a single person a publisher, despite the fact that no one person can be a marketer, an editor, a manufacturer, etc., at once. Data engineering, data analytics, and data science are very different, requiring multiple people to collect, pool, analyze, translate data, and more. If you hire a data analyst when the job description calls for something else, both you and your professional will be lost and disappointed. Be sure to define the exact duties this professional needs to fulfill, even if you’re not sure of their title and only expect them to manage these tasks. You may need more than one expert.

2. They Should Know a Little More Than What They’re Hired For

While they may be hired for one task, having a professional with a broader range of knowledge on more than just their job will allow them to pinpoint errors or roadblocks early on. This allows them to either handle these issues immediately or inform the right people to resolve the problem. Additionally, with a broader perspective, your professional can set up an action plan customized to work effectively from the start, rather than needing to reform it as new errors pop up unexpectedly along the way.

3. Their Skills Should Be Customized For Your Company

You’re hiring them for more than their brain – each person has unique strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to choose the expert whose traits suit your specific company. For example, if your business can’t withstand any lull or downtime with data, your expert needs to be well-versed in keeping their cool under hard deadlines with higher stakes. Alternatively, if you work in a more agile field, such as social media, fewer hard deadlines may exist but you need a professional who is flexible enough to see ways to improve the system and adjust its course on the fly.

4. They Need to Be a Valuable Member of a Team

Action movies create the image of a lone computer geek, far removed from anyone else, armed with a flash storage device, cracking into all the internet’s secrets. In the real world, a data professional does not work alone; they’re still an employee, and they still need to work well with others. Good work practices and the ability to assimilate into your team is vital. Even more important is their communication skills, so they can translate their findings as clearly and accurately as possible. You’re hiring them because they understand how to harness the complexity of data and you don’t, and in order for you to turn their findings into actionable progress, they must be able to explain the results in a comprehensive fashion so the rest of the team can turn that data into meaningful progress.

They Need to Have a Real Interest in Your Company

Data is numbers, and any computer can handle that alone – but you’re not looking for an inflexible routine. That’s what makes leveraging data to benefit your company so complex, and the professional you choose so valuable. The right data professional needs to offer a human perspective on the information coming in, applying their own knowledge and creativity to realize what is useless data for one company and what is extremely valuable information for your company. By choosing a professional who will make the effort to seek out and isolate the information that can help you connect to your customers, improve your working habits, and gain sales, you’re gaining a customized, optimized foot in the door. This makes it crucial to interview your considered professional carefully and determine whether they truly understand what your company is all about, or if all they’re interested in is collecting a paycheck.

Alex Espenson

Alex Espenson is a technology writer with a passion for home automation, tech security, and wearable smart devices.

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