You don’t know how to hire a REAL Data Scientist!


I was recently contacted by a recruiter concerning a Director of Analytics position at a Private University in my home state; they wanted to know if I could recommend someone for the position since I had a background in Education and Data Science. I dug through my contacts and supplied them with 4 names of experts that would be more than qualified for what they were looking for, all of them Data Scientist with at least 15 years of experience. Well, finally I heard from the last of those I had recommended, and each, for various reasons, were disqualified for the position, HUH?? I called the recruiter and asked what was going on, she said…. “her client, was looking for someone with more experience in fundraising” so, let me get this right….. you disqualified some of the greatest minds in Data Science because of lack of fundraising experience, really.

This is not the first time I have seen “truly amazing” people overlooked for a position due to “them” NOT having some little missing detail on their resume. It makes me question the people doing the hiring; do they even know what they want? Can they recognize an experience candidate or are they going on gut feelings and preconceptions of what “they” think the position needs.

Would you recognize a true Data Scientist if you met one? If you wanted to add data science or analytics to your University or Corporation where would you go, to a head hunter or a recruiter? Probably, but what makes you think they are qualified to find you the best Data Scientist out there when most of them are still trying to figure out what Data Science is!

If you really want to hire the best, I recommend you research the position first, how can you find the perfect candidate if you don’t? Buzzword like “Data Science” and “Big Data,” are added to everyone’s resume in analytics, this DOES NOT make them qualified, stop searching for the obvious and look for words that REAL Data Scientist would use – probability, models, machine learning, statistics, data engineering, pattern recognition, learning, visualization, data warehousing, are some examples.

In conclusion of my rant, I’d like to make one point…… If you really want to hire an expert in Data Science don’t go for the one with the biggest blog or the one that writes the most books, honestly a great data person doesn’t have the time or desire to write blogs and books, we’d rather be doing what we love; playing with data. If I had my choice on hiring the best, I would check out LinkedIn, find all the candidates I wanted and then call and verify reference before I even set up the first interview. Too many people out there pad and just flat out lie about their skills so verify everything! Sometimes I wonder if anyone follows up on anything anymore! A 10 minute phone call will stop you from figuring out how to get rid of someone that sucks, believe me, I see it happen frequently. There are some truly gifted individuals out there, don’t overlook them because you are mesmerized by your own agenda.


Data Science ROCKS!