Big Data diagram with woman holding the clouds in the skyHow do we use big data in recruiting? That’s a big question, but the folks at Futurestep think they might be able to answer it with a new white paper, authored by Dave Mendoza. In the paper, Mendoza talks about a new methodology called Futurecasting (hence the snappy headline) and how both CRM Vendors and Talent Acquisition Pros need to learn how to collect, store and analyze data better.

While the paper is written for a VP-level reader, I was looking for practical, actionable tips for sourcers and recruiters who are often the front-line contact for candidates and their “data shadow.”

While strategy is fantastic, the real question is:

How do we eliminate human error here? 

1. It all starts with data entry. Whether you are using a CRM, ATS or a simple Excel spreadsheet, if the data is entered incorrectly, it won’t line up when you try to search that data. When a company starts dealing in hundreds, thousands and in some cases millions of applicants, data becomes a liability rather than an asset. A lot of organizations have a wild west atmosphere when it comes to content standardization, for example location city, state, country. Within those simple three fields, there are lots of ways multiple recruiters and sourcers could enter very different info (AZ vs Arizona or Greenville instead of Greeneville).

“Work contact information is no longer a sufficient or viable option to ensure longitudinal history is maintained for each passive candidate. By ensuring each record has a complete record of hyperlinked LinkedIn ID, LinkedIn Recruiter, and Twitter URLs – sourcers can provide maximum relevancy and efficiencies through data longevity, – ensuring relevant, accurate contact data, and journal maintenance at each phase of sourcing to recruitment through to boomerang hires.”

The solution: Standardize your data entry practices and text entry fields. For many this is as simple of creating new entries, boxes and eliminating as much free-form text as possible. For other organizations, a call with their CRM or ATS vendor can help prepare them for the onslaught of Big Data (dun duhn DUHN). More importantly, train your sourcers and recruiters around a central standard.

2. Recognize the value of the data you are currently collecting. Yes, even if it automatically flies into your data fields, twitter addresses, personal emails, cell phone numbers and Facebook accounts are all extremely valuable in this increasingly mobile and global workforce. In fact, those things are even more important than a home address in some cases. While people may move, they rarely get rid of their Facebook account and it takes them quite a while to change their cell phone number.

The reason: When you start looking at social data points as the key to competitive intelligence and the foundation of a candidate network, Mendoza says, your leadership will begin to invest more in taking better care of that data. Where leaders insist, vendors usually follow.

“Some in the CRM space are innovating at the margins right now. They are doing just enough to keep people happy. There is a world of difference between a complete rebuild and building on a faulty foundation. The pattern in CRM is they are becoming business suites. I get it but….it doesn’t solve the core issue with the CORE product, ignoring the foundation.”

3. Until then…use what you have. Until all vendors add fields that accept hyperlinks, for example, enterprising sourcers and recruiters are hacking these systems for their ‘best’ use, which is what Mendoza argues, is what recruiters have been doing for years.

“Recruiters are using custom fields to add things that should already be included, given where we are in Big Data collection and social recruiting. You can hack**  the system and make it work for you,” Mendoza says. “But you have to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding hyperlinking, URL structure and data entry for that to work in a large company.”

4. Think long term. Records today are not what they will be in the future. Getting those in talent acquisition to lay the groundwork now is really the heart and soul of Mendoza’s Futurecasting philosophy.

The Solution: Standardize your protocol and allow multiple people to access your organization’s records. In many companies, multiple recruiters have their own databases, which doesn’t work in an increasingly global workforce. When Big Data is being used to recruit, market and compete across the enterprise (especially in hiring) each sourcer and recruiter needs to be able to access all the data the organization has collected, easily and from anywhere.

**not real hacking, more like lifehacking

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