Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Little Different Point of View

I see things a bit differently than the rest. I spend hours on the phone every day, talking with my candidates, clients, and industry leaders. My thoughts on the quantitative market are unique, as I'm removed enough from the thick of things to gain an overview. I wanted to share my most recent observations...

The year has been busy, and shows no sign of slowing down.

  • The number of quantitative positions open due to churn in the market is now matched by the number of new roles being created by new companies in new verticals. At Burtch Works, we are seeing growth in many service, technology, and consulting organizations. Companies are either adding to their analytics staffs, or creating new analytics groups in order to meet the increasing demand for data insights.

The Corporate Hold

  • It seems as though the only groups not hiring are large corporations (with the exception of retailers). Especially in the CPG and Pharmaceutical industries, corporations are tending to sit on the sidelines rather than add to their quantitative staffs. Corporations are historically not successful in developing a long-term career path for the quantitative professional. They tend to be more inclined to leverage suppliers and consultants.

The Consulting Option

  • Many quantitative professionals are finding the consulting option to be attractive. In the last two years, consulting firms of all sizes have rapidly expanded. The challenge is that these positions generally require high levels of travel. Later stage professionals are generally more open to considering this move, while people with young families (in their mid-career stage) are often unable to make the commitment.

Retail is Hiring

  • As mentioned, retailers are agressively building analytics staffs. Shopper Insights has become integral to decision making, and retailers have embraced customer centric marketing. This trend is partially driven by dunnhumby, and their decade long quest to lasso loyalty data. New groups are emerging, and are eager to build their teams.

Salaries are Changing

  • This year it has been very challenging to recruit quantitative candidates with one to five years experience. The recession severely restricted entry-level hiring from 2008 through most of 2010, resulting in a dearth of early career talent. So when early career professionals with solid experience come on the market, they have many options. At Burtch Works, we often see a 20% plus increase in their base salaries. Mid to late career professionals do not have the same negotiating power, and are seeing more typical bumps (10%).

The quantitative job market continues to evolve and grow. Churn continues to plague organizations, but conversely, it creates opportunity for candidates to expand their experience and advance their careers. Startups are back, new groups are being created, and layoffs have (for the most part) abated--all making for a very robust market for the analytics professionals.

As always, I welcome your comments and insights. Thanks for keeping in touch.