Professional Data Analyst/Artist/Engineer/Scientist For Hire

Hiring and getting hired is pretty tricky in an era when data professionals don't even know what to call themselves.

Often, others ask me for career advice, resume tips, or assistance filling a post. I’m not always sure what I should recommend to the writer of a friendly, hopeful email message, especially when I don’t know the person well and often find myself struggling with the same issues.

Some unsolicited advice I find myself repeatedly giving to younger professionals is, "Stop using text speak when asking for a favor." Yes , U nd 2 b pro when u msg othr pros, please take time to type your words. That is easy to correct, it is more difficult to write a resume that summarizes your career so you can find one of these fancy new data jobs.

When I entered the workforce, the best resume writing advice was to highlight your responsibilities as accomplishments. This translated to bullet points written in a “how I helped the organization move forward” way. A customer support agent could write, “Resolved 90% of major issues within 5 days,” to demonstrate responsiveness, good people skills, and product mastery. This is more difficult for an analyst. What can you write? “Created beautiful, accurate charts that highlighted organizational issues often ignored by management.” I jest, but my point is that some of what we do is more of an assist than the starring role and the overall impact may not be as straightforward.

Still, what do you call yourself: data analyst, data engineer, data artist? You might chose the trendy title of data scientist ushered in with big data, open source programs, and cloud computing. There is controversy over that title with some saying that data scientist is the sexy new career and others saying that it's a business analyst who lives in California. Whatever title you chose it needs to have “data” in it. I like data artist as I imagine my charts on exhibit in the MOMA and some of my coding is an artistic endeavor.

I suspect managers reviewing resumes have an equally difficult time. How do you read a resume and determine how much is “data” hype? What skills should you seek? One of the best managers I knew had an incredible technical team who were happily performing stressful jobs. His secret was to hire for attitude and teach skills, which I love. Can you teach someone to be a data (fill-in-the-blank) in a reasonable timeframe?

Then there is the salary; what should you offer? One executive for a medium-size organization asked me the pay scale for certain experience levels. It seemed like a loaded question to me, so I suggested he check and since there are many factors to consider. He realized he had to be competitive to attract and retain the employees from the larger companies but he had a budget to consider. Another manager said all new hires had to agree to stay in the job for two to three years. The manager reasoned he was going to pay to train them and wanted a return on his investment.



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