July 13, 2015

5 Ways to Use Big Data to Get Scientific About Recruiting

LibraryAs a discipline, recruiting has always been on the front lines of competitive strategy for any business: finding the talent to execute the vision while providing valuable insight back to the business on how factors influencing hiring and ongoing cultivation of talent might impact company development. Recruiters are key to finding the people who will execute their company’s vision, and are increasingly on the front lines of the talent wars, especially in markets where specific skill sets are in high demand. 

Until recently, however, recruiting has been more art than science, requiring a lot of hustle, a rich rolodex (or LinkedIn network), and — occasionally — a good-sized checkbook. Practitioners were (and still should be) valued for their instincts and market experience. But adding some data science (in the form of facts, probabilities, and market clues) to the mix can really kick the strategic power of the recruiting discipline up a notch. In fact, research conducted by Wanted Analytics shows that more and more jobs in the HR field require analysis of large quantities of data, with hiring professionals being called on to use big data in their everyday workflows. 

Engaging big data as it relates to talent supply and demand can help the recruiting team prove its case for specific hiring strategies and tactics and bring useful market context to a variety of workforce and operational decisions. Here are five key areas where recruiting can use talent market analytics to more proactively support the overall goals of the business: 

1. Hiring

How would a recruiter’s job change if they knew before a position was open how difficult or easy it might be to fill, whether or not the salary proposed was competitive, and what other companies were competing for the same skills and roles?

In today’s tight talent market, understanding both the local and macro conditions that may impact talent availability, salary and benefit decisions, and hiring timelines helps recruiters set expectations and adjust their approaches to attract candidates for hard-to-fill positions.

Are other companies in the area currently on the hunt for similar skills? Is the salary being offered lower or higher than average? Is the skill set needed easier to find in a different geographic area? Data captured from job boards and other sources of information on talent supply and demand can help answer these questions and give recruiters the ammunitionWhiteboard they need to get business buy-in on key decisions related to hiring strategy. Armed with data, recruiters’ discussions with hiring managers change: recruiters build immediate credibility and transform their roles from advisors to decision makers.

2. Training and Development

Talent market analytics can also inform training and certification strategies. If the data shows that specific skills are in extremely high demand, recruiters can advise the business when it might be beneficial to invest in training resources instead of seeking out new hires. Rather than spinning wheels in an environment where hiring is especially difficult and time-consuming, training existing employees may be the more economical or timely approach to acquiring the needed skills.

3. Operational Strategy

Backed by data analytics, recruiters can additionally help the business make important operational decisions. For example, choosing the location for a new manufacturing plant or office expansion should include the analysis of the local talent supply and demand data. Getting a read on the local workforce conditions can help recruiters estimate how quickly the business will be able to staff up when expanding operations, and how much budget should be set aside for staffing costs.  

4. Competitive Intelligence

Beyond identifying when rival businesses are competing for the same talent, hiring data can also serve as a bellwether for other competitive moves, such as the introduction of new product lines or the opening of a competitor’s office nearby. Job ads often list locations and detailed descriptions of responsibilities, and this information can reveal clues about what the competition might be planning. Recruiters can serve as valued sources of business intelligence by giving management a head-up when top talent may be in danger of being poached by a rival, or when it looks like a competitor’s hiring spree is related to a new product push.

5. Forecasting and Planning

Big DataFinally, recruiters can use talent data to help the business forecast the feasibility of future plans. For example, an organization that commonly submits bids for projects might want to analyze the talent supply in a specific location before submitting a proposal. If the needed skill sets in the project area are scarce, it may not be worth it to make a bid. Conversely, a talent-rich location will give the business the confidence that it can deliver on the customer’s expectations.   

Big data and talent analytics are empowering recruiters to play more influential roles in their organizations’ overall business strategies. Talent is often one of a business’s most valuable assets, impacting the ability of an organization to grow, compete, and prosper. By applying data science to decisions made around hiring, training, development, and more, recruiters can bring considerable value to the conference table.   

Read more in Workplace Technology

Meredith Amdur is president and CEO at WANTED Technologies (TSX-V: WAN), a leading provider of real-time market intelligence and analytics for staffing and talent sourcing professionals.