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The data market is a busy one. We talk about a talent shortage all the time, and that’s true. There are more technical jobs in the market than people! It can leave organisations constantly feeling like they’re hiring for these roles, as talent is hard to come across. That is unless you’re a senior leader. (Insert cricket noise here). There are currently more senior leaders than CDO jobs, which means as soon as one open ups, it’s pandemonium. Which is probably why you don’t see many advertised. Most senior positions are filled through being headhunted. Clients come to us, as they want us to go seek out the best possible in our community and beyond, rather than being inundated with applications.  

So, with few jobs, and more senior execs than you can shake a data-stick at, how can you stand out from the crowd? How do you get headhunted?  

There are several underlying principles of people who have found successful opportunities knock on their door: visibility, networking & value.  

Visibility, make your mark.   

Both internally and internally, you have to be visible. In the work you’re doing, in the value you’re creating and the business success you’re seeing – people must know about it. When I was younger the late Lord Paddy Ashdown once told me in relation to campaigning “If the press doesn’t know about it, you may as well not to have done it. People have to know about the changes you’re trying to make” – and I think he was 100% on the money. If your business doesn’t know the value you’re delivering, then have you really delivered it? And if they don’t know about it, why would they promote you and further support your journey.  

Top tips:  

  • Showcase your work within your organisation, highlighting the impact of your data initiatives on business success. 
  • Actively participate in industry-related events, conferences, and networking sessions. 
  • Share your expertise through speaking engagements and industry talks. 
  • Engage in conversations on social media platforms like LinkedIn, where you can demonstrate your knowledge and insights. 

Networking, the power in who you know.  

It’s well known that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Whilst of course, it’s important to back up your thoughts with action, there is a lot of power in this. Networking with the right people can be a game changer. This doesn’t mean you need to attend every conference in town, it can be as simple as interacting with the right people on LinkedIn in their comment section. If you are networking with the right people, opportunities when they arise are most likely to be offered to people in their known circles.  

Top tips:  

  • Identify key players and thought leaders in the data field and connect with them. 
  • Engage in meaningful conversations, share your insights, and offer to help others in your network. 
  • Leverage your network to gain insights into potential job opportunities and industry trends. 

Value, give before you receive.  

There is nothing worse than that friend who only texts you when they want something. Avoid being that person. Don’t interact with LinkedIn, events, and industry groups when you need a job. Rather, think further ahead, add your experience, offer to mentor, provide your experiences. That way when the time comes that you’re ready for your next opportunity, the task of being introduced to X or Y feels like no big deal, because you’ve given so much value already. You may even find you don’t need to ask for introduction because of the value you’ve given, opportunities come to you.  

Top tips:  

  • Offer to mentor professionals in the Data & Analytics field. 
  • Share your experiences, lessons learned, and best practices with your network. 
  • Participate in industry-related groups and discussions by providing thoughtful contributions. 
  • Be generous with your time and expertise, and help others solve their challenges. 

Standing out in the competitive data industry and getting headhunted for senior leadership roles requires a combination of visibility, networking, and value creation. By being proactive, building meaningful connections, and consistently providing value to your network, you can increase your chances of being recognised and sought after by organisations in need of top-tier data leaders. Remember, it’s about who knows you and the value you bring to the table. Here at Orbition as you know we offer a number of ways to help you do this, from offering ways to achieve this, such as our Mentorship programme, through to helping you develop engaging online content with our Data Leadership Branding & Content Creation course. Let us help you achieve your goals.  

About the Author

Catherine King

Global Head of Brand Engagement

Catherine works passionately to provide senior executives with the hottest content and insights in the areas of Digital, Data, Analytics, Information, Business Development & Innovation. She hosts and moderates large events as well as directs, produces, and hosts industry-leading podcasts.

She is an award-winning event prof with a wealth of experience directing and designing Conferences, Bespoke Roundtables, Online events, and more! Catherine is especially passionate about diversity, inclusion, and accessibility work – and is an active ally and advocate for female and BAME leaders. Read more.

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