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How Companies Are Using Big Data to Recruit

Published: November 14, 2014

Author: Katherine Wood

Recruitment strategies have evolved rapidly over the last few decades. Not long ago, recruiters had little choice but to sort through reams of paper in over-stuffed filing cabinets to zero in on the most promising prospects. Job board sites such as Monster and Indeed revolutionized that process.
Now, recruiters – including digital marketing agencies – cull sites to find top recruits. The emergence of social media changed things once again, and recruiters took to LinkedIn and similar sites to more easily narrow the search. Yet another major change is happening right now, and it boils down to two words: big data.

What is Big Data?

By now, most people are familiar with the concept of big data. Put simply, it’s the collection of information constantly accumulated through the Internet and various digital technologies. Thanks to big data, it’s easier than ever to learn a great deal about just about anyone on the planet. Marketers were the first to profit when technologies harnessing the power of big data were developed. Recruiters and HR departments now join their ranks as they discover the possibilities presented by readily available information.
According to a survey by SHRM, 49 percent of companies use social media to zero in on passive job seekers. Social media sites, in particular, burst at their seams with active users. LinkedIn alone, for instance, has more than 250 million profiles. Such sites are generating huge volumes of data, and it’s all being added to the collective pool known as big data. The problem, then, isn’t collecting the data. It’s analyzing and interpreting it to make the most strategic hiring decisions.

How Big Data Enhances the Process

The types of data that recruiters are using to identify the best candidates and talent include:

• Social Media – Every day, people voluntarily share incredible amounts of personal information on social media websites. This information is added to the big data pool and can then be used to gauge everything from whether or not a person fits a particular position to how likely he or she is to remain an employee for the foreseeable future.

• In-House Data – Through the years, a single company –particularly a digital marketing company—can accumulate staggering amounts of data. In particular, information gathered from applications, resumes, business cards and the like can be used to facilitate and enhance the recruitment process.

• Tests and Games – More frequently, companies now ask candidates to complete games or tests to assess their abilities. The data derived from these techniques can be added to the larger pool.

• Consumer Data – Consumer data, which can be obtained legally through data brokers, isn’t gathered from actual job applicants. However, it can be used to enhance the recruitment process. Recruiters can use things like zip code, current job title, and current income to determine whether or not groups of candidates and positions are compatible. They can also provide insights into whether someone is a top performer and can even predict when a person is likely to start looking for a job.

Big Data Recruiting Technologies

A number of data-driven recruitment technologies already exist, but many are still coming into their own. The best options mine the kinds of data outlined above, parse it and report back on the candidates most suitable for particular positions. They blend data culled from job boards, government reports, social media, consumer information, and other sources to identify talent so recruiters can source it more strategically. As the technologies improve, will human recruiters become obsolete? That’s unlikely. What it will do, however, is help human recruiters make the most strategic and informed decisions, which is terrific news for companies of all sizes.

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