Article

Data Magicians Will Rule the World:

A Perspective on Big Data in Recruiting

AUTHORS: Elle Aldridge, Mohini Tellakat, PhD & Frankie Drennan
So, big data.

An accumulation of data that is too large and complex for processing by traditional database management tools (“Big Data,” 2020). At Talentcare, we like to label ourselves as “data dorks”. Fittingly, we love to collect numbers, identify trends and advise action plans based off of data that is deemed “too complex” at first glance.

What does “big data” even mean? And how can companies use it? I recently spoke with Elle Aldridge, EVP of Client Services at Talentcare, and new team member Mohini Tellakat PhD, Director of Business Intelligence, to get a better understanding of big data, its unmatchable powers and why companies should be utilizing it in their HR practices. When used correctly, companies can predict what is coming and ensure the practices in place lead to hiring the best people.

 
Frankie: In your meetings with clients, how are they “wow’d” by the big data that Talentcare has to offer?

ELLE: We use it to refine and optimize our approach to everything we do. We evaluate traffic patterns on career sites, we look at the percentage of visitors who click the “apply” button, we collect employee data and use it to build out employer brand stories, we look at ROI for resource allocation and track ad spend all the way through to the point of hire. A lot of companies will ask where most applicants come from, but…

 

We take it to a deeper level to truly understand where the quality candidates come from.

 

 Mohini: We “wow” our clients by backing up any claims we make with numbers and data to support it. By supporting our claims with clients’ data, and trends that we see happening within their hiring processes, we can recommend actionable tasks that can help them improve. Big data also allows for both us as a company and the client to hold each other accountable and makes communicating with clients very transparent. Additionally, we use the wealth of data we have to predict and determine industry standards, visualize applicant and client behaviors in the hiring pipeline, thus ensuring the people they bring in are the best hires in the applicant pool.

 
Why is it so crucial to their success?

Mohini: Something about big data that a lot of people don’t get is that people will get super excited about the fact that they HAVE tons of data and will advertise it, but you really need people who understand the industry, problem space, client, etc. to be able to interpret it correctly. There are lots of ways to find patterns, and with lots data, the likelihood of finding patterns goes up. There are tons of people who can do this, but there are fewer who understand the world well enough to know what the patterns mean, and which ones are actually important and worth paying attention to. Basically, with lots of data comes a lot of noise, and it’s the job of specialized data dorks to find the signal in the noise

 
With all the noise it causes, how do companies suffer without it?

Elle: They cannot get to the Aha! moment. It is more than having the data for the sake of having it. Companies need to arm the correct people with the correct data who can directly influence the processes that are most important to their business.

Mohini: When you don’t have enough data, it is hard to get the big picture ideas out there. You cannot know who is going to fit within your company if you don’t have the data about current employees.

 
Is it only for big companies?

Elle: A nice thing for small businesses is that they can leverage our current knowledge base. Based on what we have been doing for other companies in the same industry, they can see what is good, what their benchmarks should be and can rely on our team to watch the data, while they can be more hands off. It allows them to have more smart people around the table without having to hire the internal staff.

Mohini: Smaller companies can benefit from understanding competitor trends and competitor best practices. They might not personally have the data, but they can find other companies that “look like them” and recreate their success stories.

 
Since it is such an essential thing, what advice do you have for companies who are beginning to explore big data in their HR practices? Where should they start?

Elle: Look at the report packages available for all systems. Some provide static measures that won’t help you or your team know how to make improvements. Actually, compare what is available through different vendors and understand how systems talk to each other for reporting purposes.

Mohini: People sometimes get scared of data and numbers. They don’t know what to do with it. I think that collecting information, recording things and having it all saved somewhere is so helpful. Once collected you can always reach out to someone who can make sense of it.

 
If you could describe the impact of big data in only one word, what would it be?

Mohini: Credibility – data allows us to be prophets and tell people about the future.

 

Not only do we have the data to support that certain people will fit in with a company better, but then we can tell them why.

 
Sticking to the topic of what we can expect in the future, what would you say is in store for the future of big data in recruiting?

Mohini: Confidence and consistency. Companies want their teams to be cohesive and want to have certain personalities in certain positions. Big data can support things like preferred candidate profiles and statements like, “We’ve been showing you 20 people with this profile, your favorite people meet this profile”- to ensure a consistent flow of good people in specific roles. This will help companies develop brand consistency and confidence in candidates.

 
What is one word you hear people use all the time incorrectly related to data? Now is your time to set the record straight.

Elle: Time to fill. It is an HR metric that many incorrectly believe is the answer to solve recruiting woes, but it doesn’t tell them anything or a real concept on what it takes to fill a job. Why is your time to fill too long? Which step or steps need refined? That’s the data you need.

 

Time to fill…it doesn’t tell them anything…why is your time to fill too long?..that’s the data you need.

 

Mohini: I hate when people use “significance” wrong. Things are labeled as significant findings – but lack numbers or statistics.

 
One last thing. In your expert option, tell me why you think data dorks will rule the world someday?

Elle: We are in an instant gratification society. As a business, you have to be able to provide the data. The more you can provide instantly, the higher likelihood of success.

Mohini: It makes you a magician. It allows you to tell the future. We can help you can use big data to your advantage. It’s easy to get started.

 

Reference: big data. 2020. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved October 1, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bigdata

We can help you can use big data to your advantage. It’s easy to get started.