Much has been said about big data and how it promises to transform every business function. Given the power of almost unlimited information and analytics, recruiting has certainly benefitted from big data as well.

Or so it would seem.

A study from Accenture found that 94 percent of talent executives report using big data to identify new candidate sources, 90 percent report using it to retain current employees, and 89 percent report using it to enhance the candidate experience. While those impressive numbers make it seem as though big data has fundamentally transformed recruitment, as anyone who has been on the ground can attest, recruiting hasn’t really become much easier. Despite all the talk about big data, many recruiters find it to be just that – all talk and no real action.

To truly be successful in recruiting, organizations need to consider how they use data, not how much data they have to use. Rather than collecting meaningless insights just to have more information, recruiting teams must be able to determine the most relevant data and use it to enhance how they hire.

Consider the following strategies to help your team break through the massive amounts of data and hone in on the information that can really enhance the recruiting process:

1. Find Talent Outside Your Immediate Area

All too often, recruiters limit themselves by only considering geographically nearby candidates. With competition for talent more intense than ever, the last thing you want to do is close the door on qualified candidates who aren’t in close proximity to the office. After all, you never know which candidates may be open to relocating or telecommuting.

To be successful, recruiters should seek candidates who have the qualifications most important to the company and the role at hand, no matter where they are. This can be done with the right data. Use the wealth of information you have to sort candidates according to specific skills, experience, or education. Such an approach will put the most important factors first, helping to pinpoint the best candidates for your open positions, regardless of where they reside.

Adding another layer, the right data can help you identify which of those qualified candidates are most likely to consider a new opportunity. You gain a competitive advantage by reaching out not only to relevant talent, but also to those most likely to respond.

2. Access Candidate Data From Across an Entire Workforce

BuildingsEach candidate is unique, and those differences between candidates are multiplied across your different roles and job families. Companies must be able to take a wide-angle view of their candidates and ensure their hiring practices address the specific factors that lead to success in various positions.

Segmenting your candidates by department, seniority, candidate source, or skill set will give you data that will help you continually improve your hiring strategy across the organization. You should be able to use the data to identify hiring challenges along the way for each segment, to pinpoint where candidates may be dropping off, to fine-tune conversion metrics for each hiring stage, to measure overall recruiting efforts, and to gauge pipeline health for each segment. As a result, you’ll gain more detailed insights into your open positions and the types of candidates you need to fill them.

3. Leverage Automated Technology to Generate Insights

Recruiting should never occur in a bubble. What happened in the past should be used to continually improve results going forward. What’s the point of collecting data if you can’t learn something from it?

Rather than focusing on the tactical data (like how many candidates applied), spend time reviewing the data that tells the full story: where candidates are coming from, how far they’re progressing in the process, and which sources deliver the most hires. An automated technology solution can help create meaningful reports that give you the data you need to improve the recruiting process, allowing you to visualize and understand the most meaningful data. As a result you can learn crucial facts about your hiring process that may otherwise go unnoticed, enabling you to continuously improve.

With the amount of data generated and accessible to recruiters today, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of what is most important. But by using the tools to uncover the most crucial information, you can turn the hype of big data into action and really elevate your recruiting practices.

Jill Witty, vice president, talent and operations, oversees people and business operations at Entelo.

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