Big Data for Recruiting – Are You There Yet?

BigDataA big misconception about big data is that it has to cost big money, putting it out of reach of the small and mid-size businesses that need it the most to grow and get to the next level. Phil Simon, author of “Too Big to Ignore: The Business case for Big Data,” says that actually, there are lots of small and mid-sized businesses utilizing big data without breaking the bank. He claims that thanks to cloud computing and open-source software, big data is more easily and affordably available than ever before.

Even more than applicant tracking systems and social networks, big data for recruiting is fast becoming a necessity for building an effective, successful workforce. With such diverse employers as petroleum company Royal Dutch Shell and waste disposal company Richfield Management LLC using big data gained from employee testing to hire better and save money, those who aren’t using it are at a disadvantage.


Big Data for the Masses


Simon talks about companies providing big data services and analysis at affordable prices, putting it within reach of almost any budget. Kaggle and Factual are two companies providing affordable alternatives to high-priced analytics services and in-house data analytics. Kaggle makes data science into a competitive sport to solve problems for small and mid-sized businesses. Founders Anthony Goldbloom and Jeremy Howard developed a service that lets anyone post data projects for data scientists to solve.

Factual collects and integrates data with location information and offers it to businesses to analyze. The data Factual gathers is available through application programming interfaces, and presents a multitude of new opportunities for business use. A potential use for recruiting would be using Factual data in a certain area for demographics on college graduates or businesses with the type of candidates a company needs to recruit.


You Already Have Big Data


Christopher Null, writing for PCWorld, says small businesses have data they may not even realize they have. In “How Small Businesses Can Mine Big Data,” he explains that website data from Google Analytics about traffic patterns and visitors, customer buying trends from sales records, and a profile of your business’s typical customer gleaned from analyzing customer records all yield valuable business intelligence and it’s already on hand. For recruiting, analyzing candidate and employee records in applicant tracking systems and human resources information systems can be analyzed for information about the ideal candidates and where they come from, hiring costs, and patterns in the hiring process.

The Recruiting Division has touched on big data for recruiting in “Where Will Your Recruiting Strategies Be One Year From Now?” In that post, we discuss Dr. John Sullivan’s advice that recruiters and employers need to be always recruiting, move fast to stay ahead of recruiting trends, and use competitive analysis and market research for recruiting. All of this is enhanced with big data.


Big Data for Recruiting


Emma Byrne has a PhD in artificial intelligence and logic and writes about science, technology, and current events. Writing for Forbes in “Hiring with Science: Big Data Brings Better Recruits,” she quotes Professor Peter Cappelli of Wharton’s Center for HR, who says big data predicts successful hires better than HR. He also reminds recruiters that big data provides the opportunity to find things outside of traditional recruiting paradigms.

Employers have access to an ever-growing number of candidates with social media and recruiting technology, but Dr. Vivienne Ming says big data provides a wider pool of more qualified candidates than other recruiting routes. Dr. Ming is vice president of research and insight for Gild, a specialist tech recruiter, and speaks extensively about the topics of data mining for maximizing human potential. She says her research shows that it’s possible to hire based on merit only using data mining.

While big data produces big results for big businesses like Xerox, using big data tools to cut attrition by 20 percent, it can do the same for small business. James O’Brien, writing for Mashable, says the future of recruiting includes big data tools, but still requires the human touch. He quotes Ali Behnam of technical recruiting company Riviera Partners, who says you need the right tools and the right people to use them to get the best results.

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How are Companies Using Big Data for Hiring


Traditionally, recruiting and hiring managers have relied on instincts and hunches, the old “gut feeling,” in the hiring process. That doesn’t work very well in modern recruiting, when employers have access to an avalanche of resumes and candidates with the touch of a button. And if a company is faced with large-scale hiring, speed and quality of hiring require more than one hiring manager’s instincts. HireVue’s CEO Mark Neuman says it takes data. HireVue, an online video interviewing service, recently launched HireVue Insights, its video interview screening service that compares personal traits of candidates to companies’ top performers to present recruiters and hiring manager with hard data to make the best hiring decisions.

HireVue helped Chipotle, Hilton Worldwide, and the Boston Red Sox with their large-scale hiring, and says its services apply to companies of all sizes. Chipotle reduced their interview-to-hire ratio from 10.7 to 4.1 with HireVue, improving speed and quality in their hiring process. Management and communications consultant Rob Ashgar, writing about big data for hiring for Forbes, comments that big data makes the hiring process faster and fairer by drawing in all possible candidates without bypassing the hidden gems or the high-performers that may not be revealed on paper resumes or in online application processes.


Use Data Even if You Don’t have a Big Data Budget


Small companies with smaller budgets can still use data effectively in the hiring process for improved quality according to Come Recommended founder and president Heather Huhman. She recommends determining the data points needed to improve hires, including desired qualifications, company culture, and position description, as well as using a consistent job interview strategy by asking the same questions and presenting the same tests for all candidates.

Huhman also recommends including personality traits in the candidate-screening process so that skills and experience aren’t the only measures of candidate suitability. She says that employers shouldn’t overlook the value of social media for assessing candidates with tools like TalentBin, which tracks candidates through social media activity to match them with a position’s requirements. The Recruiting Division discusses social media for recruiting in various posts like “4 Creative Sourcing Tools for IT Recruiters” and TalentBin is just one way to assess candidates in ways that aren’t apparent from resume content alone.


Hire a Big Data Scientist


Huhman says employers need big-data scientists in human resources to collect and analyze job seeker data to improve future hiring and management outcomes. In writing about hiring big-data scientists in Forbes, she quotes the Towers Watson 2014 HR Service Delivery and Technology Survey that found HR analytics is a top area for HR technology spending this year.

To hire a big-data scientist, Huhman says you have to convince leadership of the value of using big data in hiring, look for candidates with statistics, mathematics, and computer science training and experience, use data-specific interview questions, and use data-based recruiting technologies such as Knack and Jobscience to connect with the right types of candidates for big-data positions.

Whether your company looks inward and uses data already on hand, looks for affordable data-mining tools and services, hires its own big-data analyst, or fully integrates big data into HR and hiring systems and processes, it’s clear that using data to improve recruiting and hiring is the next direction for quality hiring. If you aren’t there yet, how will you know if the candidates you need are in that stack of resumes or are already lost to your competitors?


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