It has now been a year since the UK entered its first UK lock down. As companies have made rapid decisions on where to cut costs and increase short-term revenue, the importance of harnessing data to make business decisions has become increasingly evident.
Here we look at how the pandemic has affected the data recruitment market over the past year, exploring which data roles are currently in highest demand. We also share some expert insights from our Associate Director of Data Matthew Jones concerning the current surge in specific job roles across the data space.
The Data Talent in Demand Through COVID-19
In recruiting for data roles more broadly across our team during COVID-19, there has been a handful of noteworthy trends.
One of these has been regarding the level of seniority that is in greatest demand. Over the past year, we have witnessed a shift in which there has been less of a focus on specialists having a specific data skillset, and more about the level of experience they possess. In general, there has been an increased preference for senior candidates across all skillsets in data.
In the current climate, it is natural that companies are perhaps warier than they were pre-COVID when it comes to hiring graduate or entry-level candidates. As companies are largely onboarding new employees remotely, candidates that have a proven track record of successfully delivering on projects to strict timescales (from years of experience doing just that) will typically find it much easier to adapt to a new remote role.
A Boom in Data Across all Sectors
If there is anything that COVID-19 has illustrated in relation to the digital world, it is that data as a sector is relatively pandemic and recession-proof. Even when businesses are scaling back, cutting costs, or undergoing a digital revamp, it is now more crucial than ever to make these business decisions in a data-driven way.
Speaking to our Associate of Director of Data Matthew Jones on the boom in data across all sectors, he provides the example of a hospitality client he recently worked with. During lockdown, Matthew supported a hospitality group to hire three analysts.
“They were a wider group and wanted to understand how they could streamline their processes, as well as how to ensure they properly understand who their loyal customers are and how to retain those loyal customers when venues reopen. This demonstrates how regardless of the current climate, companies want to become much more data driven than ever before.”
It is evident that every data skillset is in demand regardless of the sector, especially for those companies making difficult, unprecedented business decisions to cope with COVID-19.
The Data Roles in Highest Demand Over the Past Year
One of the roles that we have seen an exponential growth in over the past year, is that of the product analyst. With people spending more and more time at home attached to screens, ecommerce and retail competition is rife, and providing users with a flawless digital experience is key to customer retention.
More than ever before do companies want to understand how their users are interacting with their games or apps, and whether the user experience is accurately personalized. This has led to a boom in demand for experienced and commercially aware product analysts.
Speaking to Matthew Jones about the growth, he notes:
“Companies that thrive off the in-app user experience—food delivery apps being a huge one here—want to optimise that user experience as much as possible.
Now more than ever do they want to make sure that their customers are having a top-quality interaction with them. For example, “are these recommended items and restaurants relevant to me?”, or “would I buy this item of clothing?”. It is about making these recommendations as accurate as they should be for each unique user.
As everyone was and is online more during lockdown, we have seen a huge increase in demand over the last year within the product analytics market.”
What is Next for the Data Hiring Space?
COVID-19 has illustrated the importance of companies making business decisions from a data-driven perspective. Preparing for any upcoming changes to wider landscape is another part of this.
Uncertainties surrounding Brexit and the imminent arrival of IR35 regulation changes in April are also expected to shake up the market. On the upcoming changes, Matthew Jones notes:
“Brexit is definitely going to change things. Around 20-30% of our placements in the data team were from people relocating from Europe. As Brexit changes this, it is likely that businesses will need more support from their recruitment partners to hire data specialists in the UK.
We are fortunate that we have an outstanding reach in the UK for helping to place data specialists. It will be crucial for our consultants going forward to further investigate how each client’s sponsorship visa process work and keep on top of any upcoming changes to these."