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Winning the data and analytics talent war

The ‘war for talent’ in data and digital expertise has intensified in recent years and evolved to encompass new frontiers and unfamiliar territories. Fuelled by digital transformation, new capabilities and a shortage of talent, employers need a new battle plan to prevail.

With fierce competition and shifts in the way people work and engage with the world, how do companies maintain and maximise their ability to attract, retain and identify top performers to sustain a competitive advantage?

We’ve summarised some approaches businesses should consider to make their talent strategy more relevant.

Align talent to the business agenda

Companies invest heavily in strategy, but many fail to appropriately consider the resources required to deliver it. Talent management is far more effective if it originates from a premise on factors that relate to business performance. Integrating business and HR agendas allows for the assessment of skills required to successfully implement action plans.

Broaden your scope

By looking beyond the standard candidate pool, companies can actively target candidates who have experience in industries that use similar tools or solve transferable problems. Traditionally, most employers would require specific qualifications to fill complex data roles. However, for those brave enough to break the mould, some of the best data skills out there are self-taught and have a genuine passion and desire to develop their craft.

Balance data and instinct

Collecting data on employees’ character traits and behaviours at work can inform more targeted recruiting, roles and expectations, culture-focused training and incentives. Research outlined in the book, Talent Wins, demonstrates that companies that use data analytics to inform talent decisions realise up to a 30% increase in profits through hiring focus alone (before accounting for the benefits of higher productivity and better retention). However, it’s a balance of art and science and there will always be a need for the intuitive, the gut, that’s based on experience and knowledge of the market. There is a sense of passion that is difficult to measure with data.

Focus on the ‘why?’

Research has consistently shown that employee engagement is strongly related to motivation. When developing a prospective or existing employee value proposition, it’s important to craft a compelling purpose statement that is specific to the role. You message needs to stand out and capture the imagination of your potential hire. It’s the why that starts the conversation, the what will come after.

Move quickly

Companies lose out on desired candidates time and again because of cumbersome internal processes. Whilst it important to ensure you’re hiring the best candidate, moving quickly will significantly increase your chances of securing them. By implementing a more effective screening process and removing unnecessary barriers, such as sifting through vast amount of unsuitable CV’s and interviewing unsuitable candidates, you will have more time to focus on the people that really matter.

Provide clarity

Successful recruitment requires employers to offer as much clarity as possible about what will be expected. Many terms within data and analytic roles are open to interpretation which can create an overflow of unsuitable applications.

‘Always on’ recruiting

Demand will continue for top data and analytic talent. Adopting an always on mindset means you’ll be able to attract the best talent when it becomes available. With 84% of workers considering leaving their current role if they were made a better offer, employers who are always focused on the hiring process will more likely attract top talent who otherwise might have applied to a competitor.

Provide a VIP candidate experience

It takes a human touch to develop a relationship with the candidates and make them feel good about working for you. Not every candidate you engage with will join your company, but each one will form an opinion about whether it’s worth joining. Even if you choose not to hire someone now, treating them well and keeping in touch is invaluable as your needs will change over time.


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