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The Invalidated Data Sharing Pact and Technical Recruiting

The Invalidated Data Sharing Pact and Technical Recruiting

By: John Rossheim 

Who in America cares that the European Court of Justice in early October invalidated a longstanding data sharing pact that has enabled transatlantic data transmissions?  

Hiring managers at Apple, Google, Facebook and thousands of smaller U.S.-based companies should care, as the ruling may mean they need to hire more data scientists  – or fewer. As uncertain as the consequences may be right now, it’s critical for employers to monitor the fallout and adjust their IT recruitment strategy accordingly.

The Safe Harbor Process
The safe harbor process ruling says that existing U.S. data-privacy safeguards are insufficient. This could force American companies to cease, or to re-engineer at considerable cost, the international transmission of personal data ranging from email addresses to financial information to the consumer behavior. 

Small firms could be forced to curtail their European operations; mid-sized concerns could also be hard-hit. 

European Union countries have been even slower to recover from the 2008-2009 recession than the United States, and Europe is famished for jobs. The ECJ action could lay a protectionist cover over certain niches of the continent’s labor market, including data scientists. 

What it Means for IT Recruitment
“This ruling could also mean more jobs stay in Europe,” says Russell Walker, clinical associate professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and consultant on big data and business strategy.

Still, some of these IT jobs could go to Americans — at least those who find a way to legally work in EU countries. 

“Apple, Microsoft, and other companies may find that merging their data is impermissible under the ruling, so they have to build separate teams in Europe and the United States, which would create more jobs,” Walker says.

If companies do need to bring on more analytic talent to cope with the EU ruling, they’ll encounter a steep technical recruiting challenge. Data honchos, especially chief data scientists, are hard to come by, and they need a very broad range of skills, from the technical to the executive.

“What’s unique about a data scientist is that they’re very likely part of a centralized, cross-functional team, because it’s about operations and product development, not just marketing,” says Walker. “Data scientists are expensive and uncommon in the labor marketplace. And you need a chief data scientist to decide what problems the team will work on.”

Technical Recruiting Strategies
Companies seeking out data gurus as part of their IT recruiting will be disappointed if they settle for brainiacs who aren’t comfortable sitting down with a variety of functional leads.

“Data scientists’ task will be to relate what they learn from data to the business,” says Walker. “It’s quite uncommon to find someone who can live both in the science and in the business. They need to communicate very well.”

Another major challenge for data-science recruiters is more fundamental: to understand enough about the concepts and vocabulary of big data and analytics to convince candidates of the company’s commitment to this emergent discipline. To attract qualified IT professionals, “companies need to be aware of tools and technologies that analytic talent uses,” says Walker.