Talent Circles

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Through the recruiting lens

It’s not like the polar ice caps of data have been sliding into the warming world around us of late; we’ve been accumulating this stuff for a long, long time.

In recruiting, companies have been accumulating tons of applicant data, mostly in the form of the infamous resume, although more often these days it’s in the form of online profiles (thankfully). Thousands and thousands of people apply for jobs every day at companies around the world, and all that information goes into some kind of data storage – spreadsheets, applicant tracking systems, talent networks and communities, talent management systems and human resource management systems once they’re hired…

Add to that the other sourcing activities of recruiting lore like name generation via stealth cold calls; internet searching and advanced Boolean search; and more recently LinkedIn sourcing; social recruiting sourcing across Facebook, Twitter and other networks; and let’s not forget the old-school way of sourcing at live networking events. There’s more data being stored about applicants (and potential applicants when they’re just shopping employment brands) than ever before – an almost 360-view of professional and personal.

Lots of valuable data that’s then stuffed into electronic boxes and stored somewhat disheveled in the back room. The irony of course being that once they’re stored away, ain’t nobody digging through the boxes at a later time.

"Put a lens on it for me."

I sat across from him at the table, his team and mine along the periphery, waiting for him to expound on the statement.

He kept flipping back and forth in the proposal pages as if magical insight would jump forth and say, here I am -- buy me!

"Yes, that's what I need to see -- put a lens on this for me so I understand what to expect."

That was only a few weeks ago and has stuck with me ever sense. That's what any of us need in business, right? Give me a lens on "information" I'm interested in so I can make fact-based correlations, recommendations, decisions and predictions.

The ol' what's in it for me shtick. Really this time, in real-time. Because Googling, managing spreadsheets and guessing is so 2007.

Managing data is mind-bending. Even though the human brain can store vast amounts of information, our working memory can only recall up to 7 things at one time.

Easy peasy. But recalling vast amounts of data to make fact-based decisions?

Not gonna happen humanly (yet). Imagine the sheer volume along and you'll pass out. A petabyte of information is equal to one quadrillion bytes, or 1000 terabytes. My goodness that's a lot of information. Our minds have a hard enough fathoming a gig much less a handful of megabytes.

Or up to 7 items at once.

But today we can put a lenses on the vast amounts of data we deal with in business and again make fact-based correlations, recommendations, decisions and predictions. We have the storage space and the magic algorithms that make it all happen.

That means that the art of sourcing is becoming more science than art (don’t tell my recruiting friends that). The term is “Big Data” and it truly is big. According to a recent New York Times article titled The Age of Big Data:

Data-guided management is spreading across corporate America and starting to pay off. They studied 179 large companies and found that those adopting “data-driven decision making” achieved productivity gains that were 5 percent to 6 percent higher than other factors could explain.

And more closer to recruiting home:

Today, social-network research involves mining huge digital data sets of collective behavior online. Among the findings: people whom you know but don’t communicate with often — “weak ties,” in sociology — are the best sources of tips about job openings. They travel in slightly different social worlds than close friends, so they see opportunities you and your best friends do not.

We’re going to need more data-literate recruiting analytics experts to better monitor and manage applicant data – from outside the orgs as well as in – and that’s what will give companies competitive advantage in the years to come. Not that sourcing pros and recruiters can’t do some of this today, but as the warm data waters rise, we’re going to have to be able to dive deeper than ever before to monitor, analyze and comprehend an increasingly complex world of work and vast amounts of information while delivering more effective sourcing, recruiting and quality of hire.

"Put a lens on the recruiting world for me, would you?"

Absolutely. We can do that now. As Dominique Hermsdorff, VP of Engineering at TalentCircles puts it, "Today, we have too much data and not enough of the right information. Moving from resumes to profiles and profile analysis will transform your data into actionable information."

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