Industry Insights

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How to Hire the Right Data Engineers and Streamline Your Hiring Process

January 28, 2020

This post is contributed byBurtch Works’ data engineering recruiting team.

Since I work with a wide variety of companies and hiring managers looking for data engineering talent, I thought it would be useful to share some tips from my recruiting experience on how to both identify the ideal data engineering candidates you’re looking for, as well as streamline the hiring process from start to finish.

How to Identify the Right Data Engineering Talent for Your Needs

A very common trend I’ve been seeing lately is roles that come with a near-exhaustive list of requirements. Many data engineering roles now, whether entry or executive level, come with a laundry list of requirements, tools, and soft skills that are required in order for a candidate to get past the HR/Recruitment Team layer and later on to a direct review from the hiring manager.This can not only make finding a candidate that meets all of these requirements very difficult, but also if there are too many hard requirements then you may miss out on otherwise expertly qualified candidates who don’t necessarily tick every box. Here are some of the ways you can identify the right data engineering talent.

1. Be clear about what tools are required day one vs what can be learned on the job

Save the hard requirements for the skills and tools that are absolutely needed from day one. Is there a team in place that can help get this new hire up to speed on tools that they may not be an expert in? Take advantage of your internal resources!

2. Prioritize the other skills and tools that you’re hoping to find

Once you’ve determined what are requirements vs. “nice to haves”, take a look at your list and see if you can further prioritize within each category to highlight the tools and skills that are most important to you.While you obviously want to make sure that the candidate you’re hiring will be a good fit for the role, since data engineering is an area with so many tools, I usually recommend that hiring managers help to prioritize the skills that are most important. This helps ensure that HR/talent acquisition, who may be less familiar with these tools, aren’t disqualifying strong candidates based on a few keywords (tools) missing from their resume.

3. Evaluate your requirements and choose a salary range accordingly

Keep in mind that the more tools, experience, and education you require, the higher the salary you’ll see for candidates possessing all of those skills or credentials. Recruiters can usually help with determining a fair range for the level, or we can at least keep you posted on what we’re seeing in the market as we’re talking to talent that fits what you’re looking for.

4. If salary is a concern, keep in mind more junior hires

If your budget constraints are making it difficult to attract the level of candidate you’re looking for, it’s helpful to be open minded about a more junior candidate with the potential to grow into a more senior role. Many data engineers are keen on learning and career growth opportunities, so offering these types of resources and future opportunities can actually make your role more attractive to potential talent.

Ways to Streamline Your Hiring Process

1. See if you can identify benchmark candidates to target your search

Once you’ve had the chance to evaluate everything you’re looking for and develop your ideal candidate profile – is there someone out there that is perfect or maybe someone who’s already on your staff that you want to duplicate? Sharing a benchmark profile with recruiters can help give us a general outline for what the candidate looks like on paper and help us better target our search.

2. Grant access to the hiring manager

As recruiters, we want to provide our client companies with quality, relevant profiles to help fill roles quickly while also making the interview process smooth for both candidates and clients. Having access to the hiring manager to learn the specifics of their needs helps us immensely. A job description is part of this, but it can only go so far.Even though I’m a recruiter specialized in data engineering roles and therefore familiar with a wide variety of the tools, technologies, and how they are used, it can be hard for me to pitch a job successfully without having the whole picture about the team, culture, and future of the role. The sooner we have this conversation, the sooner I get to know what you need without wasting time in the early stages.Example: ABC company needs a Data Architect with cloud development experience (AWS, Azure, or GCP) who can be their data storage expert and push their data capabilities forward.The additional information that would be useful in this example might be:

  • What cloud platform are you using or planning to use?
  • Have you already migrated into a cloud-based environment?
  • What is the overall tech stack being used by your data teams?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges this group is facing right now and how will this hire help to improve them?

It’s important to be able to paint a picture around the current state of the organization in order to pitch the job to top talent and be able to answer their questions about the type of company environment they’d be joining.

3. Feedback from hiring managers helps us target our search

Feedback on profiles we’ve submitted or candidates you’ve interviewed is what helps us better understand the type of candidate you’re after. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, all commentary can be useful in narrowing down the talent pool and identifying a great match.

Other Hiring Considerations: Visa Candidates and Location

Visa Candidates

Some companies shy away from candidates requiring visa transfers because they believe that the timing will be an issue. However, the pool of data engineering talent is already small, and with many strong candidates on a visa, some employers may miss out on the perfect candidate. By the time they hire someone who doesn’t need visa support they could have already done an H-1B transfer via premium processing.


Is your company based in a place that has a smaller local talent pool or have you had difficulties finding talent that will relocate? Flexibility is key in this situation. If you have an amazing candidate that is interested in your company but can't relocate or you don't have the budget to support their move – what can you do? We've been seeing more and more companies offer remote work as an added benefit to joining their organization, especially if they can't offer the same perks of the competition. We’ve also seen some companies opening satellite offices in order to expand their reach to potential talent.Perhaps the most important takeaway is to carefully evaluate your needs and be transparent with your recruiters about what you’re looking for. An open line of communication during the recruiting process is a great help in cutting down the time it takes to fill the role while also providing you with the ideal candidate.We hope you found this information interesting, and if you’re looking for opportunities or to hire professionals in data engineering, be sure to connect with us.