New talent is vital to the success of a company. Naturally, this places immense pressure on recruiters to find the best of the best.

This blog post provides nine tips for companies to effectively recruit, train, and retain top talent for their analytics team. The tips include identifying passionate candidates, valuing soft skills over technical knowledge, facilitating upward and downward communication, and providing challenges and roadmaps for growth.

Tip 1: Identify passionate candidates as early as you can: Don’t waste your recruiters’ time. It is beneficial to develop an interview process that identifies candidates passionate about your specific industry or field from the start. This could take the form of a survey or a form through which candidates learn more about your company before even entering “round 1” of interviews.

Tip 2: Value proficiency in “soft skills” over technical knowledge: Identify candidates with strong soft skills. These include communication skills, high emotional intelligence, a willingness to learn and adapt, and tenacity & grit. Technical knowledge can be taught, while personality traits cannot. Don’t be swayed by the candidate who recites jargon or “trivia” but fails to demonstrate emotional intelligence.

Tip 3: Remember that candidates are interviewing you too: It is a trap to think that you, as a manager or recruiter, are in a position of power during the interview process. Your candidates have just as much power to evaluate, accept, and reject your company as you have over them. Treat your candidate as an equal during the interview process even if you have decades of experience over them. Don’t miss out on that perfect hire by condescending or belittling someone.

Tip 4: Train in areas where your talent lacks proficiency: You will save not only the resources of your company but also the enthusiasm of your trainee if you focus on training gaps in their knowledge. Naturally, they cannot be expected to understand your service out of the gate. But, outside of indoctrinating them into your process, don’t subject them to another round of sales training if they have previous experience in sales. Trust that their past success will carry over.

Tip 5: Allow your new hire to learn through experience by shadowing: Regardless of your process, your new hire will gain greater knowledge at a faster pace by simply watching someone do their job. Devote less time to scheduled training blocks and find someone on your team who wouldn’t mind having a shadow for the afternoon.

Tip 6: Facilitate upward and downward communication during the training process: Get your manager or manager’s manager involved in the training process. Even if it’s just for a five-minute chat at the coffee pot, show your new hire that they are valued by getting them a quick conversation with their superiors. This will show your talent that there’s a place for them at every level of the company should they put in the work.

Tip 7: Use data to ensure your new hire is settling into their role: KPIs are not just a measure of pure efficiency. You can extrapolate based on data whether or not your new hire is having their needs met. If their numbers are plateauing yet their effort is consistent, take this as a sign that they need help and reach out. Treat your employees’ data as both a measure of performance and a reflection of their state of mind.

Tip 8: Regularly provide your new hire with challenges and roadmaps: It is especially important that you emphasize goal setting with new hires. They must feel both challenged and supported. You can achieve this by presenting them with jobs that challenge them and a roadmap of how these challenges will progress. This will allow them to set goals and prepare accordingly. Be careful not to plan too far ahead, though, as this can overwhelm them. Find a balance between the present and the near future. 

Tip 9: Bring it back to data; compile your new hire’s numbers and give them access: It is critical that you enable your new hire to track their numbers. Ideally, you have a central database where each employee can access every KPI and visualize them across specific time periods. This will allow them to self-evaluate and take initiative to improve or maintain their efforts. The more this process involves self-discovery rather than micro-management the more empowered your new hire will feel.