Machine Learning’s Challenge for Talent

There may be a boom in the technical application of machine learning coming, but there’s also a problem that’s already here: One that has centered around the lack of people who know how to work with machine learning applications.

At Roy Talman & Associates, we see a niche of very few companies engaging in very few large-scale projects in data sciences and utilizing machine learning because there are not enough people who have used it. So, as a company, you’ll need to keep a watchful eye over the percentage of the projects that succeed and produce results versus the ones that don’t. When you do, you’ll be in a better position to say the number of resources you need to allocate to this.

What does this mean for candidates out there?

At present, we’re not seeing many companies saying, “We need a Data Scientist and are going to hire from a large pool of individuals who have taken a class online.”

Why? There aren’t enough candidates who have gone “all in” on advancing their machine learning education – yet.

Not to say this trend can’t suddenly and dramatically change, but it’s clear at the moment that workers need to consider how to upgrade their skill set, so they become one of the preferred resources for machine learning. The gamble for them is well expressed when they ask, “How much time and resources do I invest in taking Coursera courses? What does the market hold for me if I’m not certain how aggressively it’s going to grow?”

Here’s what you need to keep in mind from a candidate’s perspective:

If your industry is doing well, you should identify where the next large projects are coming from. From that point of view, ask the question, “What skills will be required here? Which technologies will likely need to be deployed to implement these new initiatives?”

Once this is clarified, you can have a better sense of extending your education and which skills are the most practical to strengthen.

For example, there are all kinds of new languages and new machine learning platforms. Do you put the work into becoming an expert in the machine learning platform of TensorFlow? Do you concentrate on the data platform of Snowflake? Do you further your skillset in the advanced programming languages of C++17 and C++20?

Photo by rishi on Unsplash

These are all “heavy lifts” in their own right. None of them are of the variety that you can learn in 20 minutes. Therefore, being strategic in your next move could not be more critical.

Yes, you can take a class, but the real credibility comes when you can use those skills at work, actually getting things done and implementing meaningful change.


Talman Advantage #1: Our Connections Run Deep

Why is it so critical that Roy Talman be the first recruiter you talk to? Before your resume is casually distributed to others, it’s important to understand how valuable it is to work with someone who brings a credible and highly reputable network of hiring managers. We’ve cultivated relationships with these managers for over 30 years – in fact, many of them were our candidates at one point.

But if you distribute a resume before we can leverage such connections to identify the best firm and role for you, it may be very difficult for us to help you further. So before you send out a resume, talk to Talman first!


Which technologies should you be learning tomorrow?

Our practice, over the last six months, has become dramatically more international. We talk to people worldwide now and are finding that the technology for communication is holding up quite well in most situations. Suddenly, the idea of talking to somebody in London this morning, then someone in Toronto after that and someone in Hong Kong later today become normal. And when it becomes normal, your worldview starts changing. There will likely be winners and losers in this new setting. The premium position that growing companies like Zoom and Snowflake are getting in the marketplace implies a tremendous need for people to use them.

In turn, it also implies that the skills that people will need to have are going to be in extreme demand.

Consider the products being used within the organization you’re in today. Suppose you learn part of the organization is using Snowflake and you’re on the periphery of learning that technology. What will that learning curve potentially mean for you a year or two from now to get closer to desirable projects, the compensation you want and career advancement?

On the other hand, let’s say your organization is focused on traditional avenues such as Oracle. Well, if you know anything about Oracle, only so much about the technology has improved over the last five years. Will taking a deep dive into that technology help you if it hasn’t evolved very much? Perhaps not as much as the first example.

What we can say is now more than ever, this very year is a demonstration that the timelines on technological moves are getting much shorter.

In the past, it might have taken 15 years for the technology to become fully established…15 years!

Now, it might take as little as three to five years.

If you’re in front-end development, where should you focus and how rapidly should you accelerate your learning?

One example that I’ve mentioned before is called React. Until three years ago, few companies or developers had the desire to learn or integrate React. Then, as if out of nowhere, React seemed to be the only thing our clients wanted to discuss for front-end development. Is it an overnight, smooth transition? No. Typically a company will need at least two or three years of experience working in React. Still, much like a switch flipping on, the demand is suddenly there.

I suspect we’re going to see transitions of the React nature in many other areas, particularly ones that can afford large-scale new projects. These companies will allocate fewer resources to keeping their old systems going – and frankly, they’re going to need to as the latest technologies are developing faster than ever.
We also foresee that, as our economy recovers over the next six months or so, there will be many more aggressive projects that take advantage of the market. As those projects arise – and frankly, well before they do – you’re going to want to Talk To Talman First.

Photo by Arseny Togulev on Unsplash


Roy Talman & Associates has been positioning candidates and hiring managers alike for the next wave of change for over three decades and counting. If you’re in the technological or financial trading arena, you’ll be glad to know that we understand how to get the most passionate people prepared in advance of the interview for fresh challenges and new technologies that the times demand – and the most demanding employers do too.