There’s good news if you’ve been thinking of getting into the field of data science or have been looking for your perfect position in the past few months. It seems hiring is on the rise with data science positions and related positions across the board coming back strong during the beginning of the third quarter.

Talk to data scientists, however, and you might get a completely different picture. So how can it be both easier and harder to find data science jobs at the same time? It’s a matter of data presentation.

The comeback tour for data science

According to the numbers posted on various job sites since the beginning of the year, you see the predictable plummet of job postings around the height of COVID shut down — albeit at a slower pace than average in the job sector. By June, those postings rose sharply, peaking just before July but continuing to show steady promise.


With the general unemployment rate climbing as high as 16% by May of 2020 and as many as 60% of employers reducing job postings according to sources in April, even the number one hottest job was beginning to worry.

That’s changed. Overall, the US has added back roughly 4.8 million jobs, with plenty of those covering the field of data science. Job seekers should be rejoicing. As all data scientists are aware, however, numbers don’t always give the full picture.

More jobs but harder to come by

These jobs should be easier than ever to snag, but anecdotal evidence paints a far different picture. Out of work data scientists and recent graduates are having a harder time pinning down jobs and hearing back from employers. There could be a few reasons for this.

Startups took a hit.

One could be the recent round of layoffs in prominent startups. Uber closed its AI doors, laying off more employees than Lyft, Groupon, and Airbnb combined. Startups located in the hospitality and event industries ground operations to a halt with Eventbrite laying off 45% of employees or Flywheel Sports laying off nearly everyone.

While many of these startups are planning a comeback, these layoffs hurt the overall data science job market. As startups begin to raise the kind of capital they needed to maintain growth, or more relevant startups hit the market, this could change.

Companies are pickier

Companies during this time of disruption could be waiting for unicorn candidates to shore up security and in a belief that the talent pool has widened. While many companies know that freezing hiring in technology could hurt them, they may be reticent to take chances on new talent.

Instead, believing that the pool has widened due to recent cutbacks from other fields, companies may be taking longer to find the right candidate. They could also be waiting for budget freezes to end or a sign that the disruption is nearly over.

The big five are skewing the numbers

Google, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google haven’t stopped hiring. In fact, as COVID continued to disrupt the economy, these companies have invested aggressively in new talent, looking for new market opportunities and widening their pool of influence.

Amazon added over 40,000 jobs in data science at the height of the crisis in April while Facebook and Google followed suit. With startups closing or freezing budgets, now is the time to pick off top talent.

For data science talent, that means more jobs but fewer opportunities as these giants funnel positions into the machine, creating both demand and restriction.

You can still get hired

Data scientists need to be strategic to make these numbers work for them. 

  • Network where the jobs are — Healthcare is ramping up both startup funding and hiring. Biotech is still racing to find the vaccine for COVID. If you aren’t into FAANG, going where the demand is could be your key.
  • Stay positive — August is a slow hiring month anyway with vacations and HR reluctant to get moving at the end of summer. Use this time to uplevel your skills or hone your connections.
  • Join a community — Take advantage of the networking, community wisdom, and career tips from your local Data Science meetup groups or find a virtual option. There’s strength in numbers, and those numbers can help keep you motivated.

Finding your data science job can and will happen. Just because the data tells different stories doesn’t mean you can’t connect with employers and find your position. Data is the new gold standard, the new oil, whatever metaphor you want for the fourth industrial revolution, so the right job is there. Be patient, and stay positive.