Businesswoman with financial symbols coming from her handWhen I was growing up, we did old-school road trip planning. My father would gather all the appropriate maps, spread them out on the kitchen table and pour over them to find the best route to our destination. He’d write down that route step by step. Even so, at some point during that trip, we would inevitably end up on the side of the road with one or more of those maps spread across the dashboard, trying to figure out where we went wrong or how to get around an unforeseen impediment.

These days, we have GPS navigation systems. You just tell the system where you want to go, and it takes you there step by step, turn by turn. What an improvement! It not only saves you time on trip planning, but it (usually) gets you to your destination quicker by automatically calculating the quickest route and eliminating roadside map-reading sessions. Welcome to the power and convenience of Big Data.

As with GPS systems, Big Data can help users get where they need to be quicker and easier. For recruiters, that translates to results like higher interview ratios, reduced cost-per-hire and faster time-to-fill. Talent acquisition professionals are already putting Big Data to use, with good results. For example, Gate Gourmet used a mix of internal and external data to determine the factors affecting turnover at its airline catering and provisioning service in Chicago. Based on the insights gleaned from Big Data analysis, the company changed its sourcing strategy to achieve “fully staffed” status for the first time ever, and to lower unwanted turnover significantly.

Imagine being able to combine formerly siloed data sets to accurately forecast shortfalls in critical talent areas—as IBM recently did. Imagine using job board data to precisely target sources that have the greatest likelihood of increasing candidate flow for specific positions. Imagine knowing the best day of the week or time of day to post a particular job to a particular board, or how long it will likely take to fill, for instance, a senior-level marketing position in Dallas. All this and so much more is possible with Big Data analytics.

For recruiters’ purposes, Big Data is not about the technology but about what you can do with the resulting analytic insights. However, very few HR vendors currently offer Big Data solutions that don’t require further data analysis and visually overwhelming dashboards. Recruiters, as natural salespeople, are good at promoting products and services they like—and dismissing those they don’t. If a new ATS is hard to use or otherwise doesn’t live up to its hype, you won’t use it, and you’ll tell everyone about it. This means that recruiters, as a block, wield a good deal of power. David A. Steinberg recently wrote in his Huffington Post article on Big Data, “The paradigm has shifted much more heavily in favor of consumers telling companies what they want, not the other way around.” As consumers of recruiting software and services, you can strongly influence what vendors are bringing to market.

So, where do you start? First, look at the systems that you already have in place and at the data you already collect—or could collect. This will help you understand what you still lack in order to have a fuller, Big Data picture of the recruiting landscape. Next, partner with your vendors who are supporting any of your transactional activities to access the data they capture—such as job board data. Then, work with vendors to help them see your point of view: you don’t have time to pull over and consult a map. You need a GPS system. You don’t need another dashboard – you need analytic insights that you can immediately use to fine-tune your recruiting strategies. You want clearly defined guidance and recommendations for next steps. When vendors understand there is a demand, they will begin to create products and services to meet that demand. So, recruiters, here’s your opportunity to tap into the vital information that creates competitive advantage: demand your Big Data insights!

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in Workplace Technology]