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Linda Burtch, Managing Director at Burtch Works | 30+ years’ experience in quantitative recruiting

With the temperature on the data science and analytics hiring market cranked up to “sweltering”, has this turned all quantitative professionals into job hoppers?

Maybe not quite yet, but we’ve been sampling our network of quantitative professionals annually to determine how many changed jobs as well as their average tenure, and there are a few interesting trends developing:

More are changing jobs

This year, we found that the percentage of predictive analytics professionals who changed jobs increased by two points, from 20.1% in 2015 to 22.1% in 2016. These figures do not include professionals who received a promotion or stayed within the same company.

Not only that, but the 2016 percentage is an increase of 3.5 points from 2014, when only 18.6% changed companies. So, more people are hopping around, but not everyone has caught the job change bug quite yet.

Tenure is decreasing

As one might imagine, with the percentage of analytics professionals who changed companies increasing each year, the average tenure amongst quantitative professionals has decreased.

In 2016, the average tenure was only 2 years, a drop from 2.6 years in 2015. This brings to mind the mentality of Reid Hoffman, cofounder of Linkedin, who has advocated for treating employment more as a “tour of duty” than a lifelong contract, which is something I’ve seen spreading in Silicon Valley. However, two years is not exactly a lot of time to build up momentum at a company, especially for senior-level folks, so what gives?

So, what is causing this?

Why the increase in job changes and drop in tenure? We have a few thoughts about why this might be happening.

First, we believe that this is partly the result of the increase in early career analytics and data science professionals entering the market hoping to capitalize on the demand – and these professionals tend to change companies more frequently, every 1-2 years. This increase in early career professionals is a trend that we’ve been observing in our Burtch Works Studies over the past few years (see graph). Whether they’re fresh graduates or transitioning from another related career field, those who are earlier on in a given career path will generally have a shorter tenure, while tenure tends to lengthen out a bit later in one’s career.

Second, with so many quantitative teams looking to hire analytics professionals and data scientists, it is not exactly surprising that more of them are changing jobs! With so much demand in the market, some movement is to be expected.

And finally, as some may remember from our blog piece last year on salary increases when changing jobs, analytics professionals realize a median base salary increase of 13.3% when starting with a new company, which is significantly higher than the widely reported 2-4% increase one might expect for staying at the same job. From our view, these trends all seem to be encouraging quantitative professionals to explore their options and not stay at the same company quite as long.

However! A prediction…

I’m sure that with the hiring market continuing to blast off into the stratosphere it may seem as if these trends could continue forever, but I have a prediction to make. When I wrote my predictions list for this year, I hypothesized that if companies invest in continuous learning for their analytics talent, as well as work to “train up” their talent in related fields to fit their quantitative needs, it could lead to greater job satisfaction, which could then translate to longer tenure.

Whether this will happen or not remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: I’m looking forward to watching these trends continue to develop. As always, we’ll keep you all posted on any new movements we’re seeing in the data science and analytics hiring market, and feel free to let me know what you think of these trends in the comments.

 

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