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A LOT has changed recently – many pundits claim the economy is showing signs of weakening and headlines are flooded with major tech companies announcing massive layoffs. It is impossible to say with certainty what 2023 will bring, but we thought it would be helpful to conduct a quick pulse check to get a deeper understanding of employee and candidate sentiment in today’s hiring landscape.

In 2021, and for most of 2022, the hiring market accelerated rapidly, with many data and analytics teams hiring at the same time that many professionals left their jobs while partaking in the ‘Great Resignation’. Because of this, we sent a pulse check survey that asked data and analytics professionals if they have changed jobs in the recent past or if they are currently looking for a new role; the survey also explored if team attrition has any impact on an individual’s desire to change jobs. Lastly, the survey identified which factors are the most important to data and analytics professionals when considering a job change in today’s market.

The data summarized next represents over 150 responses to the survey, which included a mix of data scientists, AI professionals, and data engineers. Bill Franks, internationally recognized thought leader, speaker, and author focused on data science & analytics contributed to analysis and interpretation of the survey results.

Candidates are Still on the Market

Even though there are concerns that the economy is beginning to show signs of weakening, there are still data science, analytics, and data engineering roles on the market. That’s good news for the 67% of our sample that is currently looking for a new opportunity. Realistically speaking, we think the number is likely closer to 50%, because the market is rapidly changing, and many professionals will decide to put their anticipated job search on hold. That’s not the best news if you manage a team as the odds say that you’ve got team members at risk that may actively looking for a new job today. You need to be aware of that unpleasant fact and do what you can to mitigate attrition risk.

Next, does attrition have an impact on the broader team? You may be surprised to see that 54% of respondents confirmed that attrition on their team does make them more likely to seek out a new opportunity themselves. This could be due to the “momentum effect” – people seeing others leave their roles causes them to reevaluate their own career decisions. On the other hand, there are countless professionals that prioritize team dynamics, camaraderie, and working with others. Thus, they are more impacted during times of increased attrition and are more inclined to consider a new opportunity when team members they feel loyal to begin leaving the company. Generally, if a noticeable portion of your team leaves, it is smart to assume that others will follow.

Recent Candidate Job Status Changes

We also asked respondents if they have experienced any career or compensation changes in the last 12 months. Despite the Great Resignation and other massive shifts that took place in the hiring market, 38% of the sample declared that nothing has changed for them. Of the remaining sample, 28% stated that they changed jobs, 15% received a promotion, 9% received a raise, and only 4% experienced a layoff.

Through the immense volatility that the broader market has experienced over the last two years, organizations and hiring managers have prioritized retaining their talent to ensure their data and analytics teams are well-equipped for projects. We have heard from many candidates and hiring managers that retention and spot-bonuses have increased in prevalence as organizations have begun strengthening their retention strategies.

Candidates have had the upper hand when it came to negotiating for a higher compensation package or additional perks such as WFH or additional PTO and flexibility. For highly valued employees, be proactive and take steps to ensure they stay. If you simply assume that employees with no change in the past year are happy to stay as-is for another year, remind yourself that there are many professionals still looking for new roles.

Which Factors are Most Important in a New Career Opportunity?

With respect to what’s important in a new job, compensation and work-life balance were the top chosen factors at 25% and 20% respectively. Job security, ability to work 100% remotely, and generous benefits package all tied at 14%, closely followed by WFH flexibility (going into office weekly) at 13%.

It is important to note that ability to work 100% remotely and WFH flexibility (even if it means going into the office weekly/occasionally), are both tied to moving away from traditional office attendance policies. If both options are combined, they comprise of 27% – surpassing compensation as the top chosen factor. When considering that this 27% is also tied to work-life balance, which accounted for another 25% of the total, this further highlights the importance of these factors.

To be competitive with today’s candidates, it is vital for organizations to have a long-term plan for flexibility and work-life balance. These have moved from “nice to have” perks to “must have” core requirements for many employees and candidates.

What Do Candidates Want When Evaluating a New Position?

What are candidates striving for when evaluating a new position? As one might expect, having a clear career growth and development roadmap (25%) is a top priority for candidates assessing a new opportunity. Interestingly, personal alignment with company values and/or passion about a company’s products was the second most popular choice at 24%. With the difficulty in recruiting today, especially within the data science and analytics space, focusing candidates on a mission-driven opportunity rather than on a task-focused job is an effective strategy.

Strong team collaboration opportunities and the ability to lead and manage a team were also desirable elements to many respondents. Since professionals have been working remotely, team collaboration has become a pain point due to limitations that are present when not being in a shared office setting.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve advised before, it’s crucial for managers to check in with their team members and be aware of their current priorities to boost retention. Different people will have different priorities, so a “one size fits all” approach will not work for all staff.

If you are one of the data scientists, data engineers, and analytics professionals who are currently eyeing the available opportunities on the market, be sure to take a tough look at how stable the role you are considering will be if a significant economic downturn occurs.

Thank you, as always, to everyone who participated in the survey. We enjoy being able to share these insights with you, and it wouldn’t be possible without your help!

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