Navigating the Current Job Market in the Geospatial Industry

The current job market presents challenges for both employers and job seekers, and this holds true even within the rapidly evolving geospatial industry. With numerous companies experiencing cutbacks in recent years and some professionals hesitating to re-enter the labor market, finding the right talent for geospatial positions can be a formidable task. In this article, we will explore strategies for identifying and retaining exceptional geospatial employees, taking into account the unique demands of the industry.

Why Is It Difficult to Find Exceptional Geospatial Professionals?

Searching for the perfect candidate to fill a geospatial role can be a daunting endeavor. Several factors contribute to this challenge, ranging from specific job requirements to broader industry dynamics. While you may not be able to single-handedly influence broader industry trends, you do have control over certain aspects of the hiring process. Let’s delve into two primary reasons for struggling to find the right geospatial employees and how to address them.

Technical Proficiency

It’s common for employers to seek candidates with strong technical backgrounds in geospatial technology and software, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing, and spatial data analysis. Additionally, proficiency in programming languages like Python and R has become increasingly important for data processing and automation in the geospatial field.

However, a key insight here is that assessing technical proficiency should not rely solely on a checklist of hard skills. Instead, consider a candidate’s ability to apply these skills in real-world scenarios. Look for evidence of their involvement in practical projects and their familiarity with various geospatial software tools, as capabilities can vary significantly. Don’t forget to request a portfolio of their work to substantiate their claims.

“Acquiring the right talent is the most important key to growth. Hiring was — and still is — the most important thing we do.”
– Marc Bennioff

Relevant Industry Experience

Industry-specific experience is another crucial aspect when hiring for geospatial positions. Candidates with prior exposure to industries like urban planning, environmental management, or natural resource exploration are particularly valuable, as these sectors often rely on geospatial technology. Moreover, assess the breadth and depth of a candidate’s project experience and their roles within those projects.

In evaluating industry experience, consider the candidate’s adaptability to your organization’s specific challenges. Look for candidates with a track record of tackling diverse projects involving different data types, software tools, and stakeholders. Those who have worked across multiple industries can bring fresh perspectives to your team.

The Role of Soft Skills in Geospatial Hiring

In addition to technical skills and industry know-how, soft skills play a vital role in the success of geospatial professionals. Effective communication, teamwork, adaptability, and cultural competency are indispensable traits for thriving in the geospatial industry. Seek candidates who can seamlessly collaborate with interdisciplinary teams, convey technical information to diverse audiences, and adapt to the industry’s rapidly changing landscape.

Recognizing Exceptional Talent Within Your Organization

To find great geospatial employees, it’s essential to recognize and leverage talent within your existing team. Promoting internal candidates not only boosts employee morale but also saves time and resources in the hiring process. Internal hires are already familiar with your organization, requiring less training and integration. Moreover, upskilling existing employees can be cost-effective compared to external recruitment, which may incur expenses of up to 30% of the job’s salary.

Exploring the Alternative Workforce

In cases where you need to swiftly fill geospatial roles, consider tapping into the alternative workforce. This includes contractors, crowd workers, and freelancers who can be found on platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, or Toptal. These temporary workers can help bridge skill gaps and maintain business momentum during talent shortages. However, it’s crucial to view this as a temporary solution, as alternative workers often have high turnover rates.

The geospatial industry’s growth and evolving landscape require a strategic approach to hiring. By prioritizing technical proficiency, industry experience, and soft skills, you can assemble a strong team of geospatial professionals capable of tackling complex challenges. Additionally, recognizing and developing talent within your organization and considering the alternative workforce as a short-term solution can help you navigate the ever-changing geospatial job market successfully. Your future geospatial employees are out there; the key is guiding them to you.