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How to Successfully Recruit an AI Team

Updated: Jan 8, 2019


In just a few short years we have come from a place where Artificial Intelligence wasn’t even a dot on the radar of most corporate executives to today where an increasing number of companies, from start-ups to the largest multi-nationals, and across almost every single industry, now have, or are in the process of quickly developing, an “AI strategy”. And in order to execute against this strategy every one of these companies are going to need to hire 1, 10, 100 scientists and engineers with AI related skills.


I have been on the front lines of this war for AI talent for quite some time and the reality is that many companies will fail to recruit the talent they need because there simply aren’t enough AI scientists to go around. If your company has a need to hire top AI talent you will need to take steps to assure that your recruiting effort is up to the challenge.


To put the shortage of AI talent in perspective think about it this way; Last year, just two countries, the U.S. and India, graduated around 40k and 1.2 million IT folks respectively. In comparison, there are only about 100 universities in the world that offer PhD’s in AI related fields. It is hard to gather data on the exact number of PhD’s awarded at each program annually but the number is miniscule. Certainly not even remotely enough to keep up with demand.


The shortage in talent combined with the very real promise of AI related technologies has led to a market where angels and VC’s are pouring money into any company that has an AI scientist on staff and where large companies are acqui-hiring companies at the seed stage just to get their team. I have seen back of the napkin calculations that some of these acqui-hires are costing about $13 million per AI PhD scientist. That is real money to say the least.


So if your future depends on developing and deploying AI related technologies you need to establish a world class recruiting team focused on finding these folks. Here are 3 things I tell my clients that they need to do immediately and do well.


1. The chances of a top AI scientist just sending in her/his resume is slim to none so act accordingly:

  • Drive institutional awareness that hiring AI talent is a top priority

  • Identify everyone cross functionally who will be involved in the recruiting process and develop a comprehensive strategy on how to find, screen and close candidates.

2. Create a standalone AI recruiting team:

  • This holds true whether you are hiring 1 or 100 AI scientists

  • You will not be able to find and hire top AI talent by posting on job boards or going to job fairs.

  • AI talent is fairly easy to identify but extremely hard to recruit. Your strategy should reflect this reality.

3. Understand your story and why it is important and interesting:

  • Today AI scientists are being given opportunities to work on projects that have the potential to fundamentally change our lives.

  • veryone involved in your recruiting process needs to understand, and be able to verbalize, just what it is that really matters about what you are trying to do and why that would be interesting to someone who has a chance to work, well, anywhere.

The race for AI talent is on. Get ready. Get Set. Go!

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