Job seekers must have realistic expectations

The current disruption to Singapore's employment landscape has been ongoing for some time now, but it seems as though some people might still be in denial.

I have been involved in talent management and executive hiring in the service and technology sectors for over a decade.

Over the last three years, I have often come across job seekers in their mid-40s to early-60s whose aspiration is to be data scientists in the emerging fields of big data and data analytics.

While this is commendable, and those who harbour such ambitions should be urged to work towards their goals, these people often cannot describe which stage they are at in achieving their objective.

When further probed, they would say that they have been studying the basics and reckon that they are ready to be employed as data scientists, albeit, a rookie one.

Their wage expectations can fall between $5,000 and $9,000 a month.

It seems as though there is a mismatch in the expectations of people from this demographic and what the industry is ready to offer, and some people do not seem to realise this.

I am not sure how prevalent this mentality is, but the lack of sagacity I have seen from the professionals, managers, executives and technicians group is quite worrying.

Being a data scientist requires a foundation in computer science and statistics.

Many of those who aspire to be one lack basic technical knowledge.

In the context of upskilling and lifelong learning, an individual can always start learning and picking up relevant subjects, like computer science and mathematics.

But one also needs to ask if one is cut out for it.

It is also not realistic for individuals who have taken a crash course in data science or studied for a few months to expect to be hired as a data scientist almost immediately.

They may also stand a lower chance of being hired compared with those who are fresh out of university, have spent many years studying data science subjects and have a lower expected salary.

Tan Kar Quan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2018, with the headline 'Job seekers must have realistic expectations'. Print Edition | Subscribe