The Market Is Hot, But How Many Quants Are Changing Jobs?

February 5, 2015

As I stated a few weeks ago in my 2015 Predictions blog post: there has never been a better time to be a Quant looking for a job. With all the media attention, companies are scrambling to board the data analytics bandwagon. It is increasingly apparent that analytics is becoming the standard, and any firm slow to get on board will be left in the dust. Outstanding and inventive uses for data are what will set an organization apart from the pack.

Being a quantitative recruiter, I have had a unique perspective on the current climate and how it has changed over the years. From the talent shortage and relocation challenges of 2007 to the incredible employee turnover in 2011 to the building of the data science hype in 2014, the Big Data hiring market is starting to move even faster and is quickly picking up steam.

How often are Quants changing jobs?

I took a sample of our LinkedIn network of over 10,000 analytics professionals and data scientists to see how many actually changed jobs last year, and found that 18.6% changed jobs in 2014. The rest of the market, by comparison, had an average 10.4% voluntary turnover in 2013, according to data provided by CompData Surveys, and while figures for 2014 haven’t been released yet, it’s unlikely that number shifted significantly.

We also looked at whether or not those that changed jobs relocated for their new position, and found that 26% of those who made a change relocated for their new role, which was a higher number than we had anticipated. Mobility can be a great benefit to your job search, as it opens up a lot of opportunities, and this percentage would suggest that quantitative professionals are taking advantage of the hot market. 

Quants are also receiving substantial increases when they change jobs. In our Burtch Works Study: Salaries of Predictive Analytics Professionals (released in September 2014), we reported that analytics professionals who received a base salary increase when changing jobs received a median 13% increase, compared to the widely-reported average merit increase of 2-4%.

What does this mean if you’re a Quant?

It’s a candidate’s market! Despite all the new academic programs, bootcamps, and MOOCs that are popping up to serve the increasing demand, there is still a quantitative talent shortage. This means there are abundant opportunities in every industry, but in order to take advantage of them you must strategically evaluate how each position will affect your career going forward. Not sure where to start? Here is a list of the biggest strategic mistakes I see Quants making when planning their careers, from limiting themselves only to name-brand companies, to choosing an offer based solely on salary.

What does this mean if you’re trying to hire a Quant?

It means, unfortunately, that not only may your firm be suffering from increased attrition in your quantitative positions, but also that hiring for your vacant positions may be a challenge. The good news (if you can call it that) is that you are not alone – companies across the board are struggling to hold onto their top analytics talent. However, there are several ways you can help stem the tide a bit, such as ensuring that analytics has top-level buy-in, and making sure tools are up-to-date. No data scientist wants to be hired just to take care of reporting and Excel spreadsheets, just like no analytics professional wants their hard work to have little or no affect on company strategy.

On the recruiting side of things, I’ve already written about how companies will need to shape up their hiring processes if they hope to compete. This includes everything from fixing salary bands (which is one of my predictions this year), to considering other forms of compensation and keeping the hiring process itself seamless.

There has been a lot of movement in the market already this year, so it will be interesting to see how things will shape up. I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!