Microsoft has been in the news fairly frequently in the recent months, and what caught our attention was the announcement of the launch of their professional degree program.
Having been labelled the “sexiest job of the 21st century” by the Harvard Business Review, Data Scientist is probably The Job of the century. Yet, despite its revered status, there seems to be a shortage of data scientists to go around. Did the position earn its status, though, simply because of the increase in demand, or are companies seeking to hire more data scientists because of said status?
Fascinating as this chicken-and-egg dilemma may be, there are more pressing matters to discuss: how can the demand and supply gap be closed?
That is where Microsoft comes into play—by offering an “employer-endorsed, university-caliber curriculum for professionals at any stage of their career”. With this initiative, the corporation hopes to put more viable Data Scientists on the market, whether they are mid-career professionals that could do with an upgrade in their skills, or youths who are looking to take on the most desirable job of this century. While it may seem like a good plan, nobody knows how long exactly this initiative will take to close up that gap.
The competition for acquiring Data Scientists is not going to be a fair fight; bigger players in the industry—such as Microsoft—will definitely have an edge over smaller companies, and the reason is apparent: large corporations usually have established employer brands that sort of work like inbound marketing for their talent acquisition. From the perspective of candidates, tenure at such big companies would, apart from the obvious enriching learning experience, be a surefire way of getting a feather in their caps.
It would seem as though big companies barely need to do anything in order to build their talent pipeline. Not all hope is lost for the smaller companies, though. Through proper talent pipelining and by being proactive, they too, can get a piece of the cake. Here are some tips to get started on your talent pipelining (applicable to any position, not just Data Scientists):
1. Plan for the long term
According to Aberdeen Group’s 2012 Talent Acquisition Market Report, pipelining has been an ad-hoc process by tradition, growing and shrinking in relation to the economy. Such a reactionary method of pipelining usually leaves companies unprepared for abrupt economic changes.
What companies can do, is to envision the position of their company maybe five to ten years down the road: What will the size of the company be then? What kind of roles will they need in the company in order to cope with the future markets? What kind of roles will be rendered redundant due to implementations of new technology, and how will the company reshuffle its human resources accordingly?
Those are just some of the questions that the leader(s) of the company will need to consider when planning for the long-term. Knowing the answers to those questions will help to build a solid foundation for their talent-pipelining process.
2. Look in the right places (i.e. talent-map)
We know that nothing is set in stone; industries and the economy is always shifting. However, once the management of the company has sketched out its long-term goals, it is time for the management to work towards that goal by aligning its internal processes accordingly.
In the case of managing their human resources, talent mapping is a strategy of the on-going process of talent pipelining. Companies can make use of talent maps to get an overview of the industry: pinpoint the hotspots of certain high-in-demand roles (e.g. Data Scientists); spot the trends in the movement of talent, etc. With this information, companies can then know where to cast their net in the pool for their required talent.
3. Invest in a recruitment CRM
Using the example of Data Scientist, companies should “keep a tab” on the students taking up Microsoft’s Data Science program, so that once the graduates hit the job market, the companies can simply draw in their net and acquire the necessary talent.
To do that, companies should invest in a recruitment customer relationship manager (CRM) to start and maintain an engagement with the potential talent, i.e., the Data Science students.
Essentially, this is an alternative method of employer branding. Keeping up an engagement with students leaves a door open between companies and the potential talent to a multitude of possibilities.
No matter what the next job of the century is going to be, talent pipelining should be an on-going process. It gives companies a headstart in the race for talent so that they can plan for future job vacancies and avoid being paralysed by a talent crunch.