LinkedIn Talent insights categorises the demand for Data Engineering roles as “Very High”.  Data Engineering is one of the most rapidly evolving tech roles, with companies of every shape, size, and sector wanting to harness the knowledge that data can bring.

This level of demand means it is harder than ever for firms to attract and retain the talent needed to perform this pivotal role. Indeed, many firms are left not being able to fill their vacancies. The stats suggest that the number of unfilled data engineer roles was as high as 50% last year.

There are a few theories as to why this might be. A shortage of tech talent is one. Another is the fact that the discipline is moving at such a rate that there is no longer a standardised skillset. The range of technologies and tools emerges then changes all the time. No sooner has the latest trend emerged than it’s superseded by another.  As a result, the definition of the role, and the skills required are often polarised across companies. This can make finding an appropriate data engineer a challenge.

What can employers do to attract top data talent?

Recently, a research project was undertaken with a sample of data engineers. In it, a few common themes emerged, highlighting what employers must do to attract and hire top data talent.

Here are the 4 top tips to emerge from the research.

Data Engineers want…

A clearly defined role.

Data engineers want a detailed, and above all, realistic job description.  72% of those asked, responded that this was the most important factor in their decision over whether to apply.  Most data engineers will pass up the opportunity if an employer doesn’t have a clearly defined Job Description. Instead they will move on to another, more transparent role.

Your Data Engineer job description should provide a clear idea of the types of projects that will be worked on and the stakeholders who will be engaged with.  Data Engineers take great pride in what they do, and so it may be appealing if your JD includes some narrative on the type of impact you expect their work to yield.

The right technology stack.

Nearly half of the research sample stated that the tech stack they will be working with is the most important consideration when considering a new role.  The fit is so important because the tech stack has so much to do with what the day-to-day will look like.

A data engineer’s technical skillset can vary hugely…Kafka, Scala, Kotlin, advanced SQL, Python, data warehousing, R…. The list goes on.

You need to paint a picture of your requirements without demanding that candidates can place a tick against every skillset known to data engineering.

A benchmark to ensure you are offering a competitive salary.

48% of the data engineers asked, revealed that they would leave a position because the salary and benefits are below market rate.  It is important then, that you are benchmarking your salary and benefits against competitors and offering a competitive package.  Additionally, the cohort revealed one of the major reasons they would move on, would be if the original value proposition of the role has not lived up to the reality. Companies must live up to expectations. Don’t sell one thing and deliver another.

A quick and streamlined hiring journey.

The time of a data engineer is very important. Whether they are in work already or an interviewing job seeker, they will be busy!

if they are being asked to jump through multiple hoops during the recruitment process, they are likely to get fed up and move on.

To hire a suitably qualified data engineer, the recruitment journey needs to be streamlined. Your recruitment processes ought to be able to assess the fit of the data engineer without stalling or losing momentum.  The average top candidate is only available in the job market for 10 days. You must be quick if you don’t want to miss out.

Talented professionals need to be engaged in the hiring process. Candidates need to get a sense of the company, its culture, and its values. Employers can make a great first impression by making the candidate feel at ease and creating an environment where they are able to show themselves at their best.

Remember, data engineers are in demand, so it is likely your role will be one of a few irons in the fire.  The candidate experience needs to be second to none if you want your role to rise above the rest.

For more advice on creating a first-class candidate experience, our recent blog may help.

In sum,

The demand for data engineers is at an all-time high.  As a result, companies must do all they can to make sure their role and organisation secure the professionals it needs to leverage the business insights that data is able to provide.

Companies need to meet the needs of data engineers seeking new opportunities. Clear job descriptions with realistic expectations, a competitive salary, and the right tech stack rank highly upon data engineer must-haves. It is also critical for business leaders, hiring managers, and recruiters alike to recognise the need for a seamless candidate experience and recruitment process. Remember – data engineers are not on the market for long.  Companies must act fast to maintain interest and make sure that their role remains an attractive proposal.

About the author: As a founder of Ignite Digital Talent, I lead our brilliant team to ensure we deliver time and time again for our clients. I also stay closely networked with industry influencers to ensure we are well placed to understand the issues and challenges our clients face.

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