How HR Big Data Is Reshaping Recruitment (1)

How HR big data is reshaping recruitment

Are you leveraging the huge volume of ‘big data’ that is becoming available to your HR department to help you recruit more effectively?

It seems as if the phrase ‘big data’ is buzzing around the human resource industry far more than it has done in recent months, and for very good reason.

Of course, we all understand that big data is now a concept which permeates each area of the business arena, in this, the digital age.

The volume of data which is available to an organisation about their business, employees and customers, is simply astounding.

But now, it’s really being taken seriously by strategic HR professionals across the globe, who are keen to understand the secret to harnessing this massive expanse of information that is now available to us.

There is a strong body of passionate and strategically minded HRDs and talent management specialists who understand the value of networks and systems and are driven to use all the data that is available to them to improve the performance of their workforce…

…And it’s specifically in the recruitment space that savvy human resource teams are leveraging the insights from HR big data to the greatest extent.

What is HR big data?

It doesn’t matter who you ask in the HR industry.

They’ll probably all agree that there is no truly accepted definition of what ‘big data’ really is.

But that’s okay.

Because, despite not having clarity on the nature of the data in its entirety, there is a growing understanding within the HR fraternity that this data is vital for greater business impact…but it must be implemented practically and not just analysed, if we are to gain the true value.

Reliable people analytics can bring far greater clarity and insights than the human eye and mind alone, plus it helps us to ‘see beyond the silo’ and make greater sense of the role that HR must play within an organisation, now and the future.

The three V’s encompass the nature of ‘big data’:

  • Velocity – the speed at which the data is collected
  • Volume – the amount of data that is collected
  • Variety – the diversity in the data that is collected

In essence, however, big data simply describes the process of using all the information available to HR in order to improve the performance of the workforce.

Just as important, is the ability of HR professionals to analyse and apply the insights from the different sources of data, and translate that into insights which the leadership of the business can use to make more informed, evidence based decisions.

Why focus on using big data in recruitment?

As far as talent acquisition or recruitment goes, the need to action the data becomes even more important when we understand the sheer waste that can be involved at this initial stage of the employee life-cycle.

By waste, what I mean is the wasted time spent on badly made hiring decisions, the wasted money on training unsuitable employees who leave after six months and the wasted energy of HR teams who have to constantly re-hire because of a lack of effective job profiling or an appropriately objective interviewing process.

This is where using and applying big data can really add huge value and can support the HR agenda across the organisation.

Specifically when hiring at the C-level, when (for instance) the new potential CFO of your organisation has a budget of £10 million under his or her belt, you really want to make sure that you have all the information available to you and are able to translate it into the most informed hiring decision possible…

…otherwise the consequences will be costly, for certain.

What are the challenges with applying big data in recruitment?

One of the key challenges for you, as an HR professional in a data-driven world, is to navigate the increasingly competitive nature of recruitment and talent acquisition, which has arisen from the shift from ‘gut-based, experiential recruitment processes’ to ‘evidence-based data driven hiring processes.

Indeed, implementing talent analytics at the recruitment stage can give you a hugely competitive edge… and your competitors know it and are already capitalising on it. Read this blog from last month to see how employee assessment data can be a HR manager’s secret weapon.

Yet the true challenge of big data, lies in translating the information that is available to your HR or recruitment team, from complex data into actionable and practical insights that managers and leaders can use to make more informed decisions inside, and outside the interview room.

And that’s not always easy.

Knowing how to join up the dots between the data from your talent pool, the data from your internal and external assessments, and the data from interviews, helps you and your managers to understand individual stories behind the wall of information…

…Yet many HR teams still struggle to create these stories, and therefore lose the power that such information can bring to a recruitment team.

Ultimately, we come to realise that it’s not the data, the information or the analytics which hold the true value of big data, but the quality and clarity that we have in translating and interpreting the information.

This value then translates into hiring and promoting more suitable people into the right positions and our ability to understand just how these decisions will impact the wider business.

In the past, we have relied on referrals, on CVs, on gut-based selection processes and on stand-alone interviews to attract and select our best people.

It’s only now, with the availability of big data in recruitment, that we come to see the huge advantages that we can glean from supplementing our own subjectivity with objective science based data.

Ways That Big Data Is Reshaping Recruitment

As I mentioned earlier on, the landscape of recruitment has changed drastically over the last 20 years and this is down to the rise of big data.

A gut-based, experiential approach to hiring staff has been transformed into a data-driven approach using psychometrics, applicant tracking systems and cloud-based talent pools.

Employee turnover has gone from being somewhat enigmatic in many organisations, to being graspable through analysing turnover data and employee exit interview data in order to understand what exactly drives employees to leave the organisation.

This has led to a greater realisation of how much this actually matters to workforce planning, team performance and the continuity of business goals.

Where we traditionally had high costs from third-party recruitment agencies, outsourcers or head-hunters, we can now reduce that reliance with cloud-based customised recruitment systems and talent assessment systems, which are integrated to include social media recruiting.

The systems and the tools for global talent acquisition that were previously out of the reach of many organisations, have now become far more accessible and far easier for HR teams to set up, maintain and optimise, by themselves.

As well as having the ability to build (and get data from) bespoke in-house recruitment systems, we also now have the possibility to use competency and behavioural based data about our employees and candidates in order to make far more accurate hiring decisions.

We can predict performance and suitability with far greater assurance when we have the right insights and the right people to help us translate those insights.

The truth is, all of these ‘shifts’  have resulted from the growing body of data which has become available to HR teams in recent years and which is becoming more and more accessible to us all.

Of course, the real challenge of all this does not lie in the availability of the data. Indeed, when we give a man a hammer it does not automatically mean that he is able to build a house.

Yet big data is reshaping recruitment and the way we source and select employees. We simply need to know how to make sense of it all.

What are the benefits when we apply big data to recruitment?

For those HR teams and managers who are able to use and act on the data they gather as part of the recruitment/acquisition/succession processes, the benefits are clear.

Once you are able to bring all sources of HR data together, like turnover data, workforce analytics, applicant tracking data and psychometric assessment data, you create a data driven HR function which promotes the HR agenda in your business and gives your senior leadership team a more holistic view of who you need, where you need them and what the greater benefit to the business will be.

Using big data in recruitment can:

  • Make sourcing internal or external candidates easier, with the use of a shared talent pool across the organisation.
  • Help you to evaluate and benchmark talent to create evidence-based job profiles to truly define the behavioural and competency criteria that lead to success in the role.
  • Allow you to build your own in-house recruitment system, which can give you more independence from third-party agencies by providing you with all the information you need to make informed hiring decisions.
  • Improve your ability to identify potential through the use of science based talent assessment tools, which supplement traditional selection processes.
  • Speed up your entire recruitment and selection process by removing much of the guesswork that has traditionally been involved.

What’s next?

As we can see, the digital data available to HR for recruitment purposes is vast and the greatest danger is getting bogged down in it all. After all, it is the interpretation of the analytics which will bring is the greatest bounty, not the mere existence of them.

The gap that we have to bridge in this situation, is to be more purposeful and intentional with the data that is available.

One of the big hurdles in this lies in the link between the people who are involved in understanding HR big data and those who are involved in implementing this information on the shop floor.

On the one hand, we have HR analysts who can sort, categorise, and create meaning from the recruitment data, yet lack the ability to consistently act on this.

On the other hand, we have the strategists who lack certain analytical skills, but have great strategic capacity for translating the data into tangible results.

What that means in reality, is that we have the data, we have the analysts and we have the strategists. We also know that data driven recruitment processes are far more effective across the board than traditional approaches.

All that remains, for those organisations who are struggling to join the dots between analysing and implementing talent acquisition and recruitment data, is to make sure that the analysers and the strategists work together to create tangible insights that can be practically applied to create real results.

After all, arbitrary data is more of a liability than an asset if it remains untapped and unimplemented.

So what do you think? Are you fluent in big data? How are you using the growing volume of analytical data to make better recruitment decisions?

Let us know in the comments section below – we love to hear your thoughts.

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