5 Tips to Attract and Retain Talent From the STEM Fields

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March 26, 2015 by Updated May 6th, 2024


Every day more and more companies are turning to big data and analytics to become more competitive and profitable. The natural result of this growing trend is an increase in demand for talented individuals in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. This presents a problem for companies in the Ad Tech, Internet, and big data industries, as they are having a difficult time finding the analysts and data scientists they need to carry out their high-tech initiatives.

It’s not that there is a shortage of individuals in the STEM fields. In fact, the latest report from the college admissions testing service known as ACT shows that the interest of students in the STEM fields remains high overall.

The hiring challenge lies in the fact that the need for skilled analysts and data scientists now gives qualified applicants unprecedented career opportunities, allowing them to pick and choose, not only which companies they will work for, but for how long.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, computing is expected to comprise 71 percent of STEM jobs by 2018, which means that the hiring problem will only get worse. In an effort to help organizations move forward with their big data strategies, here are 5 tips to attract and retain talent from the STEM fields.

1. Know what makes STEM candidates tick

Today’s STEM candidates have a unique makeup. That’s what drew them to a STEM field in the first place. To be successful, recruiters need to know what their STEM applicants are about and what really matters to them. For example, most STEM recruits are intelligent, curious, and have a desire to use their skills to find solutions that can have a real impact. They are always seeking new information, and they regard today’s technologies as tools for creating new technologies that will ensure a brighter tomorrow. And while STEM candidates expect to be paid well, they are more motivated by the prospect of doing fulfilling work than they are by a big paycheck.

2. Spell out real opportunities for growth

Most STEM recruits will be productive and energetic employees, as long as their innate needs to be constantly challenged, growing, and progressing are met. Companies seeking to hire qualified STEM candidates need to let them know during the recruiting process that they intend to work with them to identify and outline a clear and challenging career path. They need to spell out the unique opportunities that they provide over their competitors to help their employees grow and reach their true potential.

3. Be clear about roles and expectations

A mistake often made by recruiters when interviewing prospective STEM hires is failing to clearly define what their job responsibilities will be. This is especially critical for linear thinking candidates, such as data scientists, who prefer structure and want to have a crystal-clear understanding of what will be required of them. Instead of being vague, interviewers should be open about the company’s vision with respect to future innovation. Specific projects that require the candidate’s expertise should be discussed when possible, along with the impact the recruit could personally have on the company.

4. Make employee empowerment a priority

Research shows that candidates are more likely to work for and stay with companies that provide them with a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging, and the opportunity to do work that actually makes a difference. While it’s essential to communicate to STEM candidates that the company stresses this kind of employee empowerment from day one, a great way to demonstrate it is to introduce the candidate to the team they’ll be working with should they decide to come aboard. Feeling a connection with the team and the company at this early stage can dramatically increase the candidate’s chances of saying yes to the position.

5. Invest in tools, technologies, and training

When seeking employment, qualified data scientists and analysts want to know that the companies they are considering will provide them with the latest tools, technologies, and training. Those companies that are proactive in keeping their tech specialists up-to-date with respect to these critical components stand a much better chance of attracting and retaining top STEM field personnel than those that tend to stay behind the times.

As technology continues its rapid advance, competition among companies in the Ad Tech, Internet, and big data industries for skilled data scientists and analysts will only increase. By using these and other tips, companies can successfully tap into the best talent the STEM fields have to offer.

The high-tech industry faces a number of challenges. Learn more about how to explain your company to potential customers.

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