How Data is Being Used To Boost Recruitment and Retention

Big Data and the intelligent use of Analytics has been one of the top business topics of the last year. For anyone working in human resources or recruiting, ever greater use of data promises a revolution in the way decisions are made. Recruitment and retention of top talent differentiates a company from its competitors. The days of gut decisions and interviewer bias are numbered, to be replaced by evidence-based decision making.

To be clear, leveraging data presents both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to learn the skills – and choose the technologies – needed to analyse the mass of data available within your company. Looking beyond that, we also need to start collecting actionable data that has hitherto not been collected. The opportunity is significant though – to improve outcomes across all areas of HR from recruitment to development to retention.

What Are The Benefits of Using Data In Recruitment?

Have you heard the old adage of “the truth will set you free”? Well for today’s recruiter that could be restated as “the data will set you free”. So many elements of a recruiter’s life are made more frustrating through a lack of data and insights – but all that is about to change.

Have you ever encountered a hiring manager with unrealistic expectations? Or one who’s eager to sell aspects of the role that you fear do not fit with the day-to-day realities of the job or company? The right data can help manage the expectations of hiring managers. Retention data can highlight the elements of your offer where the recruitment team are consistently overselling to candidates.

When it comes to which criteria to include in a job listing to produce the best quality of hire, data can give you the answer. With the right data points you can find out which skills, values and behaviours lead to a hire who is likely to be a success in the organisation and remain in their position long term. Those insights can be derived client by client or department by department. Powerful insights!

Have you ever wondered which of your talent sources are most cost effective? Most companies know the applicant volumes they are getting from each source. Most know the shortlist candidates and even hires that each is producing. But we need more data than this to make informed decisions. Which talent sources bring in our highest achievers? Which talent sources produce hires whose retention rates are the most compelling? If data gave you these insights, you can imagine how your choices of where to invest might be impacted.

How Are Recruiters Using This Data?

To put the uses of big data into context and help you to better comprehend how you might use it, here’s a great case summary from Xerox Corp.  Xerox had estimated the cost of training each of their call centre staff at $5000, yet many were leaving before Xerox could even recoup their training costs.

The business had traditionally assumed that those with call centre experience were more likely to succeed; however, analysis of the data proved otherwise. The data showed that candidates with experience cost more to hire, yet didn’t perform better or last longer than those without experience. The data also showed that those candidates who were active social media users had higher retention rates than other candidates. Another surprising insight was that creative types tended to stay with the company longer than inquisitive types. Analysing big data helped Xerox to cut the attrition rate at their call centres by over 20% – a significant and tangible financial saving, as you can imagine!

So how can you leverage data more effectively? Well one company that is helping recruiters to use data as part of their recruitment process is Talenytics. They’ve developed a clever system that aims to remove pain points in recruitment by first collecting and then analysing the most essential data in the recruiting process. This provides recruiters with the insights needed to make the right hire each time, from a smaller shortlist of candidates and with less time therefore needed to complete the recruitment process.

The Future of Recruitment Lies In Big Data

Research from IBM has shown that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in just the last two years, so Big Data use is expected to accelerate dramatically. In the past the sheer cost and complexity of connecting and analysing so many data points made the use of big data within recruiting impossible. However in the past couple of years we’ve seen a rise in the number of analytical tools available to make the use of such data cost effective.

This new realm of big data analytics affects every area of the recruitment process including:

  • Vacancy marketing
  • Employer branding
  • Filtering of prospective candidates
  • Planning interview questions
  • Talent development
  • Who to retain and promote

With such overarching effects, it’s no surprise that recruiters and employers alike are clamouring to invest in talent analytics software to help meet their talent needs. The future will see recruiters using a 360 holistic approach to finding and assessing talent. One dimensional CVs and applications will be supplemented by social media data, online assessments, departmental profiling and past hiring success and failure data to more accurately assess a candidate’s chances of success.

Further Reading: Big Data and Recruitment

Over the next few years we’re going to see a flurry of cloud based software solutions that look to tackle big data for recruiters. Early adopters are already reaping the rewards but not all companies are equipped for gathering or interpreting data. For those of you who would like to explore things further, below is some further reading that will help.

This article from Staffing Stream includes 5 tips for putting dig data to work for you. I particularly like their tip about using existing tools such as Excel to analyse data and answer questions such as:

  • What is the profile of historically successful employees in this role?
  • Where have we found candidates for these jobs in the past?
  • How long have similar searches taken historically?

Most recruiters will already have data relating to these questions but may not have a simple way of analysing the data – Excel can be a good starting point, or a tool like Talenytics can take this analysis to the next level.

Another article that could be really useful to recruiters introduces a tool called which helps users to easily scrape data from websites. This post includes an easy to follow demo of how recruiters can use the tool as part of their talent sourcing process and also to migrate data from legacy systems to new tools you may wish to deploy.

Concluding Remarks

Hopefully I’ve given you good reason to stop and reflect on how data is going to impact many aspects of what we do today – and given you some ideas of how it’s transforming the ways recruiters will work in years to come. If you’ve any first hand experiences, case studies or tools you can comment on I’d love to hear about these – please do share your insights in the comments section below.

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