The Problems with Big Data & Data Science Hiring


Rusty Frioux – “Big Data isn’t magic”

There are always going to be problems when trying to hire in a space which is new, exciting but importantly, largely misunderstood. I say largely misunderstood, though the Data professionals of this world know exactly what they’re talking about. The problems start when these people aren’t deeply involved with the hiring process.

I recently spoke with a client of mine who is now the CFO of a very successful Big Data & Data Science start-up in Central London. Luckily for me he knows Data very well. We discussed the key challenges to hiring in this space, take a look and let me know what you think:

Catch 22 – The job description says you need at least 2 years’ commercial experience of Hadoop. To get commercial experience of Hadoop you need at least 2 years’ commercial experience of Hadoop? What?

Solution: It’s all about extracurricular work. OK, it’s hard to get commercial experience, so aim to become Hadoop certified in your spare time. It’s Open Source, it’s FREE! Offer to work on data projects for free and make yourself stand out. Job descriptions always want the perfect person, but it’s the person who is most passionate (as well as technical of course) who will get the job.

Salary Hike – Certain companies are willing to raise the salaries on Big Data roles to attract top talent, and this has created delusions of grandeur. A company will still look at you in terms of ROI, what will I get for paying this person that much? The problem is that inexperienced people are gunning for higher salaries and will find it difficult to get hired.

Solution: be realistic about your salary expectations. I always advise looking at a payrise between jobs of 10%-20%.

Fakers – there are a lot of CV’s/Résumé’s out there that now have Big Data buzzwords plastered all over the place, though they have no clue about the sophisticated tools and techniques to be able to carry out such responsibilities. This is wasting a lot of time and damaging the industry.

Solution: don’t do this. Instead, refer to the Catch 22 Solution. Actually gain experience where you can in your spare time through online tutorials (for example the ‘Introduction to Data Science’ course on Coursera, conferences and download/play with the tech.

Before applying to that job, speak to a Data Science & Big Data Recruitment Consultant. It just so happens I am one! Call me on +44 (0)2079 282 525 or drop me an email at

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