4 Ways to Ensure Your Candidate Data Stays Protected

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If confusion clouds a scenario, data can clear it up. Data is the place to look if there’s a story to tell, a pattern to identify, or a gap to acknowledge. It’s an invaluable resource to those who’ve embraced it, and a missing piece for those who haven’t.

But if your data isn’t secure, it can easily become a liability instead of a boon. That’s especially true in the hiring process, where candidate analytics fuel everything. To maintain the validity of candidate data and ensure a credible recruiting process, the collection and storage of applicants’ information must always be transparent and clear.

Does Your Candidate Data Strategy Lack Integrity?

A recent report from Research and Markets predicts the HR analytics market will grow by 10.4 percent between 2019 and 2025. While that growth might produce some exciting innovations, it could also cause some problems. Some vendors use the general lack of clarity surrounding data analytics to maintain an advantage over competitors, and a lot of data comes from third-party partners that might not be at liberty to share information openly due to white-label relationships.

Considering the abundance of regulations and compliance concerns HR departments must navigate — not to mention the repercussions of possible leaks — data security is a must. Toward that end, recruiters and HR pros who regularly handle candidate data must understand that candidates are rightly protective of their information. Unethically repurposing or selling that data can lead to a host of problems.

Businesses that leverage data for any purpose other than the stated reason (recruiting, in this case) are asking for trouble. They open themselves up to lawsuits and fines for illegally sharing or accessing private data. Consent is borderline nonnegotiable when it comes to data, as evidenced by Europe’s double opt-in for email communication under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Litigation and lighter pockets are merely the surface-level damages businesses might incur for unsecured data practices. The reputational damage of data misuse can have wider-ranging and longer-lasting effects. In recruiting, candidates share their information with you with the sole intent of landing a job. If they see their information used for anything else, that’s a breach of trust for both potential employees and customers. Regaining that trust will not be easy.

If candidates aren’t confident you’ll use their data in good faith, how can they feel comfortable accepting a job with you? Recruiters and HR pros must be mindful of their responsibilities when developing transparent strategies to collect and secure candidate information.

How to Collect Data Compliantly

A Gartner study found that poor data quality and its consequences (e.g., bad decision-making, damaged reputations, missed opportunities, etc.) cost businesses $15 million annually. No business can afford to mismanage data, especially when it comes to that most precious commodity, talent. Here are some strategies HR personnel and recruiters can use to maintain candidate data integrity:

1. Implement a Thoughtful Data Strategy

This may seem like a given, but a transparent data collection strategy starts with crafting a clear process. If you collect and store data haphazardly, you simply won’t be able to maintain and manage it properly.

Put protocols in place for collecting, storing, and distributing candidate information. Put similar structures in place for the systems and databases that house that information and translate it into recruiting insights. The more safeguards you place around candidate data, the better the odds it will remain safe and compliant.

2. Schedule Regular Security Updates

Security maintenance is a significant part of any data strategy. Like getting regular oil changes for your car, staying on top of security updates ensures your safeguards remain in effective operating condition.

Explain to your team the importance of completing these updates. Make sure team members install necessary updates on their own devices, and educate them on how to spot potential security breaches like questionable email attachments and spam messages. The more information your employees have, the better they can steward candidate data.

3. Don’t Ignore the GDPR

This European data privacy law has caught the attention of data-reliant businesses around the world — as it should. Collectors of candidate data must take these regulations seriously regardless of where they’re recruiting, especially in light of the similar laws being passed elsewhere, including California’s Consumer Privacy Act and New York’s SHIELD Act.

The GDPR has redefined what personal data is and how vendors are responsible for it, and HR pros must accordingly rethinking how they request and collect candidate information. To both protect your company and maintain the trust of candidates, you need to ensure your data acquisition practices align with all relevant legal standards.

4. Get to Know You Vendors

Korn Ferry reports that about 40 percent of companies outsource some or all of their hiring processes. Those outsourced vendors may in turn bring in subcontractors to supplement their efforts. With so many hands potentially touching candidate data, it’s critical that HR pros and recruiters only work with vendors they can trust.

Learn about the processes your current and prospective vendors have in place for collecting and managing candidate data. Ask about any touchpoints that might affect the security of candidate information. Ultimately, you need to know where your data goes and what security issues may arise.

Data tells a story, and the recruiters who use it must ensure the details of that story are transparent and compliant. Go above and beyond to make candidate data collection, storage, and distribution as secure as possible. When you conduct talent searches with security and transparency in mind, you gain the trust of top talent and protect your business from potentially disastrous risks.

Abby Carter is the content marketing manager of Leoforce. Connect with Leoforce on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Abby Carter is the content marketing manager of Leoforce, the company behind the people intelligence platform Arya. She is based in Raleigh, North Carolina.