In “The Graduate,” Dustin Hoffman’s character was told the future was plastics. Fast forward almost 50 years, and that advice might now be stated as “Big data” and no where is that more apparent than in human resources.

“Big data is the future of recruiting, but you can’t just data mine your way to the right candidate,” Ali Behnam, cofounder and managing partner of Riviera Partners, told Mashable. “You need the right tools, the right combination of external and internal variables and — most importantly — the right people who know how to analyze all of it.”

The article adds, “This approach to recruiting — also referred to as people analytics — is not only fueling businesses’ search for the best candidates, but also delivering a healthy dose of entrepreneurial energy to HR. Firms such as Riviera Partners, Gild, TalentBin and others are providing companies with products designed to draw closely aligned candidates from the big-data well. All of this is part of what Gartner Research predicts will be a $232 billion big-data industry by 2016.”

Xerox, according to a Wall Street Journal article, used big data to better recruit for its 48,700 call-center jobs. It uses software “that asks applicants to choose between statements like: ‘I ask more questions than most people do and ‘People tend to trust what I say.’” The article adds, “Personality tests have a long history in hiring. What’s new is the scale. Powerful computers and more sophisticated software have made it possible to evaluate more candidates, amass more data and peer more deeply into applicants’ personal lives and interests.”

The company isn’t interested just in experienced call center employees any more. As the article reports, “A computer program told the printer and outsourcing company that experience doesn’t matter. The software said that what does matter in a good call-center worker—one who won’t quit before the company recoups its $5,000 investment in training—is personality. Data show that creative types tend to stick around for the necessary six months. Inquisitive people often don’t.” Connie Harvey, Xerox’s chief operating officer of commercial services, told the Journal: “Some of the assumptions we had weren’t valid.”

Laszlo Bock, a senior vice president at Google and an Evolv director, told the Journal software will supplement, if not supplant, many of the personnel decisions long made by instinct and intuition. “The initial thing companies like Evolv are looking at is people as they get hired, but over the years this can help companies pick who to advance, who to promote,” he said. “Even at the best companies there’s still a lot of guessing.”

At the Simplicity 2.0 blog, Catherine Reynolds, principal recruiter and owner of OnBoard Recruitment Advisers, which specializes in analytics, insights and recruiting in the big data area, said, “I encourage clients looking to hire data scientists to have some leeway in the hiring profiles. Everyone wants the “perfect” candidate, but there simply aren’t enough to go around. Two years ago, Gartner predicted that by 2015, 1.9 million IT jobs would be created to support big data, and for every IT job, another three jobs would be created outside of IT. However, due to a talent shortage, only one-third of the IT jobs would be filled.”

She has a solution for recruiters and human resources departments looking to bolster the hiring of big data experts. “[C]ompanies need to develop pipelines of entry-level talent. Build partnerships with graduate programs in your area. Hire undergraduate interns. Consider visa sponsorships. Cross-train individuals in your organization with the aptitude for learning statistical methods. Hire candidates who may not have 100 percent of the job requirements, but who align well to your culture and who have the aptitude to learn and grow with your company.”

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