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Clairvoyance Doesn’t Work

By February 10, 2018 No Comments
DATA SCIENCE ARTICLES > Clairvoyance Doesn’t Work

I’m on the email list of many different data science blogs and products. It takes awhile to go through all the stuff I receive, but since I’m committed to helping data scientists get jobs, I think it’s important for me to do so.

The other day I received an email from someone advertising their program on learning data science.

The email starts by asserting that the reason people like me are hounded by recruiters and so many others can’t even get an interview is because “the bottom 90%” (which, the author implies, is you) can’t write code.

The solution, of course, is to buy their program. They state:

“To get a data science job, you need to master the foundations of data science.”

There are several things wrong with this statement.

First, I’ve been working as a data scientist for several years and I certainly don’t claim to have “mastered” anything as broad as data science. Yet I have no problem getting hired.

Second, what the hell does “mastered” even mean? I have a 3rd-degree black belt that took me over a decade to earn and I certainly don’t think I have “mastered” martial arts.

But third, and most important, is that “mastery” of the foundations is not at all sufficient to get hired. You need to let others know about your data science wizardry in the horribly-broken process that is data science hiring today.

All those fancy skills don’t mean much if you can’t get that across.

Look, for all I know, this person’s data science course is awesome. Maybe it’s the best out there.

And I’m certainly not opposed to advertising one’s course. I’ve been known to promote my own Break Into Data Science course once or twice. Or maybe a little more than that…

But recruiters, hiring managers, and interviewers aren’t clairvoyant.

You need to have a great LinkedIn profile and resume. You need to be prepared to do well on phone and in-person interviews. Both technical and non-technical questions (and *ask* good questions, as well!). You’ve got to perform well on “take home data challenge” problems.

And it would certainly help if you have some kind of underlying strategy, instead of exhausting yourself by trying everything under the sun.

Yes, if you don’t know what a CART tree is, you should spend some time boning up on the basics.

But the thing that will really get you hired is if you know how to navigate the challenge of data science job hunting, not whether you can “write R code in your sleep”.

I’m certainly not discouraging you from taking courses in data science. Knowledge of the basics is important (more important than knowing lots of “cutting-edge” techniques, by the way).

But thinking that just knowing the theory is good enough to get you hired is foolish. That’s just part of what’s required.

If you’ve been getting emails from me for awhile, you probably already know this.

But this is easy to forget, especially with so many blogs and articles insinuating that if you just learn more stuff that a job will magically appear before you.

When you learn to couple your knowledge and skill of data science with knowledge and skill in finding a data science job, you’ll be so much better off than everyone else that you’ll be able to pick and choose what you want.

To your success,
Mark