In recent years, there has been a significant rise in contract work within the Data & Analytics industry.
This can be attributed to several factors, including the exponential growth of big data, increased demand for flexibility from both employees and organisations, and the need for specialisms within the data space.
How can someone land a contract job in Data & Analytics, or transition from a permanent role to contracting? The first step is understanding the types of skills that data contractors need to have in order to thrive.
While the exact experience that’s required varies depending on the specific contract job, there are common skills that all contractors draw upon, and which organisations should be looking out for when hiring, in order to remain competitive. We provide a snapshot of these skills below.
Strong technical skills
Contractors in data roles require a strong foundation in programming languages like Python, as well as knowledge of machine learning algorithms and data visualization techniques. Another key technical skill is to be able to write efficient code to manipulate and analyse data.
Collecting data from various sources such as databases, websites, APIs, and social media platforms will likely be a frequent part of the role, so temporary employees must have the technical skills to write scripts or use tools to automate data extraction and ensure the data is accurate and reliable.
Of course, as contractors continue to specialise, their skill sets will become increasingly niche and technologically unique. But for now, in order to remain a strong all-round ‘data person’, these core skills will need to be maintained.
Good communication skills
Strong communication is integral in data roles and soft skills are becoming equally as important as technical expertise. Having the ability to explain complex technical concepts to non-technical stakeholders in a clear, concise, and jargon-free manner is vital in being able to put data insights into a business context.
Contractors are under pressure to make an immediate impact and therefore need to have a deep understanding of the industry they are working in and be able to identify business problems and create appropriate solutions. Therefore, presenting data findings in a way that is easily understandable to clients should be second nature and is often necessary to showcase a contractor’s value. Data storytelling isn’t always an easy feat, or something traditionally associated with technically advanced people but it’s becoming an increasingly important skill to have in the bank, as business deliverables grow.
Due to the time-limited nature of contract work, individuals must feel confident in joining new teams, asking plenty of questions, and hitting the ground running. They must liaise across numerous teams in order to get to the root of any issues and identify where support is most needed. It can be challenging to build rapport with colleagues quickly, but doing so is critical in gaining the trust of team members and boosting workplace morale.
Flexibility and adaptability
Considering the temporary nature of a contract job, adaptability and a willingness to learn new technologies and techniques as required by various companies will be crucial. Contractors need to be able to work in fast-paced environments and handle multiple projects simultaneously, whilst delivering adequate value.
Project work often presents tight deadlines and therefore working under pressure is a fundamental skill to have. Pressures can rise when issues unfold, and short-term employees may need to switch between multiple tasks to steady the boat.
The field of Data & Analytics is constantly evolving, so contractors will need to be committed to continuous learning and staying up-to-date with the latest tools, techniques, and trends in the industry, in order to remain competitive.
Attention to detail
A ‘bread and butter’ skill for data contractors is having acute attention to detail and an eye for spotting errors or inconsistencies in data. They should be able to troubleshoot issues and find solutions quickly and efficiently to ensure the quality of work being produced is of a consistently high standard.
Contractors are hired because of their expertise, accuracy, and decision-making abilities. Employees entering a business on an interim basis must be able to build relationships with team members and work efficiently to achieve results in a short timeframe.
Looking to hire a contractor to help with your latest data project? Please get in touch with Dave Curtis, our Managing Director of European Contracts.