Understanding Database Professionals and Candidates

I recently conducted some non-scientific research to see what types of technical skills seemed in high demand. What I found was that the need for database and data warehouse skills seemed large, and it’s no wonder. According to the GartnerGroup, enterprises will be faced with 30 times more data in 2004 than in 1999. Of course, someone has to develop and manage the technology to handle all of this data. And of course, someone has to find the talent to do this, that’s where recruiter’s come in. To be successful in this endeavor, it’s important to understand the concepts, positions, and what questions to ask candidates. Let’s start with the concepts. Close your eyes and open your imagination. Picture yourself walking through a large warehouse, the data warehouse. A data warehouse, at it’s most basic, is a collection of data, typically across many databases. This data can be sorted and viewed and is designed to give a snapshot of business conditions at any given time and aide in decision making. As you walk through the warehouse you see groups of file cabinets labeled Human Resources, Accounting, Marketing, etc. Each of these groups is a “datamart,” or group of databases that are specific to a department or subject. The individuals file cabinets are databases. Databases are typically classified by two major types: relational and hierarchical. In hierarchical databases, the records and fields have fixed links limiting the ways to view the data. Relational databases allow for the sorting of data in order to pull information and compare it in different ways. The file cabinets, or databases, are made up of files, records and fields. Files, like a file folder in the cabinet, contain collections of information. Records are sets of fields, and fields are single pieces of information. Liken this to an employment file, where the record is the employment application and the field is the last employer name. Database and data warehouse professionals can be grouped into two major categories: development and maintenance. Understanding the difference will impact a recruiter’s ability to find the best possible skill match. A Database Developer/Designer, also sometimes called a Data Modeler, is responsible for designing how the fields, records and files relate to one another. In contrast, Database Administrators primarily focus on performance and tuning of existing databases. When interviewing database professionals, there are a few quick questions that can help:

  • What is the largest database you have worked with? If the answer here is a terabyte or greater, the database is quite large.
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  • What was the business reason for the database? This can indicate vertical industry knowledge.
  • What were your primary responsibilities? Look for words like design to indicate development and to indicate administration.

Data is critical to two keys areas of business, CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, and eBusiness. With the rapid growth in these two areas and the ballooning volume of data to be handled, demand for database and data warehouse professionals will continue to increase. Recruiters with a basic understanding will have a greater chance to succeed in this highly competitive arena. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*>

Kimberly Bedore (kimberlybedore@earthlink.net) is a consultant and public speaker who develops and implements staffing solutions for clients, resulting in increased efficiencies and significant cost savings. She uses her wide range of recruiting experience to provide companies with a wealth of information related to sourcing and sourcing strategies, recruitment training, and the implementation of solutions and metrics that enable a higher degree of staffing effectiveness.

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