5 Reasons Why Analytics Jobs Stay Open For 6+ Months

Our team has been filling contract and full-time analytics positions for the past 7+ years.  We have worked on thousands of analytics searches and have found 5 things that cause jobs to stay open for far too long.  They are:

1.     Wish Lists Instead of Requirements Lists

The analytics director at XYZ corp. draws on the white board where they want to be in a year. Then they take stock of their tools, processes and talent and find many gaps. They have limited budget for talent and only 1 open headcount. So they take the list of talent gaps and copy/paste them as “requirements” for their new position. Their goal is to hire whoever checks off as many boxes as possible. This approach is destined to fail for several reasons:

  • Analytics professionals look at this job description and immediately conclude two things
    • Whoever wrote this job description has no idea about the market for analytics talent because this person does not exist
    • Nobody could possibly be successful in a role that has this many requirements and responsibilities
  • Each stakeholder that participates in the interview process considers his requirements the most important.  As a result, the candidate has completely different interview experiences with each interviewer.  This is a huge red flag for candidates.
  • It is impossible for stakeholders to agree on a candidate because they are all looking at different qualifications / criteria. 

The result is that they burn through well-qualified candidates while damaging their brand in the community.  They eventually realize what they are doing wrong, but by then everyone in their geographic market has either been contacted for the role, interviewed, or heard a horror story about the interview process. 

2.     Suzie in HR

Suzie is working on 32 open positions for her business unit.  She has openings for accounting clerks, secretaries, financial analysts, mailroom supervisors and web analysts.  She has no idea what a web analyst does, but she has a call with the hiring manager, who explains what buzzwords to look for and how to evaluate candidates. 

Suzie posts the job all over the Internet and waits for applicants.  She gets three kinds of responses:

  1. The usual suspects: the same people that are ALWAYS on the market.  Some are crazy, some are incompetent and some are both.  They have all the right buzzwords on their resumes and they meet all of the qualifications on paper, so they are invited for interviews.
  2. Hidden gems:  Suzie will probably receive 100+ responses to her many postings.  In the deluge there will be 1 or 2 that are hidden gems.  They may not have the right buzzwords on their resumes and they will not make it through Suzie’s checklist, but given the chance to speak with the hiring manager they would be considered strong candidates.  These people are usually passed over.
  3. Everyone else:  An avalanche of technical and quantitative people across the analytics spectrum.  Some may be relevant for other opportunities on the team, but she doesn’t understand what they do and doesn’t care.  She has a checklist and a job to fill. 

HRThree months pass in this way.  Suzie forwards the usual suspects and an occasional candidate to the hiring manager, but nobody gets hired.  Desperation starts to build and the hiring manager says, “I can’t take it anymore.  We have to get outside help.  Call those guys from IQ Workforce.  They claim to be experts in this space.  I don’t care if we have to pay a fee – we NEED these positions filled.” 

Now put yourself in Suzie’s shoes.  Her job is to fill jobs.  Her performance evaluation will be based on her statistics of jobs filled vs. those filled by agencies.  Her bonus, her promotion and even her continued employment at the company depend on the perception that she is able to fill her jobs. 

Is this the best person to manage the agency relationship?  If the agency fills the job she will successfully prove that SHE was the problem – especially if they do so quickly and easily.  She is “Freakonomically” motivated to make sure that the agency does not succeed.

Many people will say, “Not MY Suzie.  She really cares about the business and would never put CYA over the good of the company.”  Yes, YOUR Suzie. 

3.     Candidates Dying on the Vine

The clock starts the moment a candidate is scheduled for their first phone interview.  If they are actively interviewing they could be involved in as many as 3-5 other processes.  Any more than 3 rounds of interviews for analyst-level candidates is too much.  Any more than 4 rounds is too much for managers & directors.  This includes the phone screen, so don’t waste it by letting Suzie do the screening.    

In addition to too many rounds of interviews, companies will often let too much time pass between rounds.  A basic rule of thumb is to never let more than a week pass between rounds.  This will keep the momentum moving forward and keep candidates engaged.  Otherwise they will lose interest and move on to other opportunities.  At that point the search has to be restarted with a depleted pool of candidates. 

4.     Sell the job. 

Selling the JobMost people don’t realize how many job offers are turned down by analytics candidates.  They get very caught up in the evaluation of the candidate (understandably) during the interview process and they forget to sell their jobs.  We recommend that each interviewer take 3-minutes at the end of their meeting to sell the job back to the candidate.  Explain why they think the role addresses whatever is motivating the candidate.  It is a small investment that can make their close rate skyrocket. 

When offers are rejected companies will usually have to start the process all over again with a depleted candidate pool. 

5.     Geography 

If a company is located in a small or mid-sized city there may be only a handful of people locally that qualify for the job.  If they can’t get one, they have 3 options:

  1. Wait for one to become available
  2. Try to relocate someone to their city
  3. Consider virtual office / remote candidates

Considering how important a lot of the open analytics roles are, it is amazing how reluctant many companies are to consider relo or virtual candidates. 

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14 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why Analytics Jobs Stay Open For 6+ Months

  1. You are spot on, Corry. I had to relocate from Chicago to a very small town in NC to help take care of my grandmother. I have had several interviews and such over the year to find a new position. Biggest stop gap is that I cannot relocate and/or the company is reluctant to have a remote position. I had one hiring manager who was giddy over my interviews and resume and the CEO told her that he liked me a lot but wanted “a body in the chair” in the office. Sad.

  2. I’ve run into #1, the “Wish List”, too many times. The person they dream of may exist, but somebody with that vast array of skills and experience is certainly going to cost 2-3 times what they plan on paying. I’ve been on a number of interviews where the person who will be the manager is very good at one aspect of the job profile, but admits they don’t know too much about the other aspects which the job requires. “So let me get this straight, you want the person reporting to you to know your discipline, as well as have several other specialty skills that you don’t have?” And somehow that person is less valuable than the manager?

    I’ve learned to avoid contacting a company with expansive wish lists. Their expectations are so high (unrealistic?) I worry that a “normal” person is just going to disappoint and never be able to succeed.

  3. My web analysis job was open for 2 years before I was hired in a mid-sized city.

    Now that I have been here for about 6 months I am still trying to clean up and re-implement almost the entire software, since it was just sitting on the shelf. It’s been a good learning experience doing this, but also frustrating without anyone else to bounce idea’s off of and my previous experience was working in a environment where everything was already setup.

  4. I totally agree with point number 1. The kind of credentials companies require for a Analyst position are insane. If one person has that much experience then he/she should probably be running a digital agency instead of working as an analyst.

    I get contacted about one specific web anlayst job at a telecommunications firm almost once a week for about a year. I interviewed with them and didn’t get selected, which is fine however they have not been able to fill the position for over a year. Which leads me to believe that either the managers in the company are incompetent or there will not be a candidate who will possess all the skills they are seeking.

  5. This article really nails it……..The #1 reason is a complete repeat of a job interview I had 2 months ago……….The company was out there recruiting “talent” with skill-sets they did not have. The job spec was constantly being changed. The people I interviewed with had no idea what the person was supposed to do. The guy running the show was 400 miles away on a video conference call that stopped working after 5 minutes. After interviewing with the TEAM for 2 hrs, he wanted me to point out the problems of his organization…..Then he wanted to get into a philosophical discussions on software development. They had NO project in mind for the person doing the job. Later on, I found out from a business associate who actually works for a non-profit that the company has a reputation for bungling and mismanagement. I was wasting my time…..

    Lately, I come in contact with a few companies with all sorts of internal political problems. Here the job spec is kept deliberately vague, the interviewer will not discuss why the previous candidate left, and big words are bandied about with the candidate left guessing what it all means……..In reality, it is the interviewer who is terrified that someone might figure out that they really don’t know what they are looking for or for that matter, know how to do their job so all candidates are rejected………..Consultants are then brought in from staffing agencies and everyone looks the other way as the company’s bank account is emptied…….

  6. This clearly nails it.

    When I was doing recruitment for my team, I used to do A to Z and try to train the HR. Most of the time the HR was least interested and treated it like a java script skill-set. So, they keep looking for java/jquery guys with a little skill set required for a web analyst.

    Same for reporting they would get us MIS reporting guys or people who have no clue what web marketing was.

    When I went for interviews or tried to look into credible organizations for positions, the interviewers or supervisor just had web analytics included to his things to take care of. He had no clue, the HR had no clue.

    So they start interviewing, after a few rounds they are more clueless, who’s good. So they decide to start slow and close the position with the best ROI candidiate. After few months they ask the candidate to hire their boss or a colleague, and it never improves.

    About relocation, at certain places, there’s another angle to candidates. Usually, HR’s or even managers start filtering expats as credible candidates. The companies description is all in english even the job title but the job description in not in english with a last line that the job is open only for people with local language.

    Most of these issues are like filters to choose which organization is best to work with, from an analysts perspective.

    Cheers
    Sam
    Samrat D’souza

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