Big Data: Recruiters Need to Start Talking in Numbers

Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Hiring [ 0 Comments ]

big dataWhen it comes to change, there’s a lot going on right now in the HR industry. Amidst pushes for cloud integration, workforce gap strategies, and improved technology adoption, there’s one major buzzword that’s gaining traction with experts across the board: big data. Essentially, everyone’s wondering, “Where is HR in the game of numbers?”

“Big data” started to explode in 2012, prompting many firms to scramble not only for a definition, but a strategy. Unfortunately, this type of rapid consumption can lead to poor execution and, instead of alleviating hiring managers of their time and effectiveness woes, worsened them.

Related: Talent Management: Not Just for Big Business Anymore

Don’t get me wrong – recruiters and hiring managers need to start talking in numbers; executives expect it. After decades of considering HR as only a peripheral part of business objective success, they’re now ready and waiting for HR managers to take a strong leadership role.

However, in order to do so, they need to be speaking the same language as executives, and most other departments for that matter. In other words, they need to start leveraging quantitative data in place of conventional wisdom and predominantly qualitative records.

How Will HR Use Big Data?

Big data can cause big headaches for HR departments who just start collecting and analyzing mass amounts of it. There needs to be a driving purpose behind the information frenzy.

Related: Organize your hiring process with the right recruiting software

No longer are we just trying to fill empty seats as quickly as possible. Instead, we’re trying to efficiently identify the right candidate for the job. In doing so, we can better address more broad scope business objectives – precisely like the one’s executives are always carrying on about.

Let’s consider an example to more explicitly demonstrate this industry shift:

Even just ten years ago, the hiring process was a fairly unscientific endeavor in which recruiters and hiring managers would subjectively scan through resumes, engage unstructured phone interviews, and ask references questions that weren’t job relevant.

Eventually a hiring decision would be made based on time constraints, gut instinct, and a few paragraphs worth of independent notes.  After onboarding the candidate, HR brushed their hands clean and started the process again.

Related: 6 Ways to Innovate the Candidate Search Process

How Your Business Benefits

Now, however, we can integrate automated solutions at various stages throughout the pre- and post-hire process that routinely provide information that is not only critical for HR’s understanding of their own success, but can also be easily digested by those outside of the department.

  • Automated candidate assessments based on scientifically generated benchmarks provide job-relevant metrics about a candidate’s fit within an available position.  In additional to possessing greater efficacy than resume scanning, the data produced by the assessment can be easily shared with other decision makers – department heads, team leaders, etc. – and actually make sense to them.  In other words, collaboration becomes more streamlined.
  • HR managers can use similar post-hire performance data as part of a feedback loop to continuously refine their hiring process for each position.  Whereas in the past there has been a lack of concern for or inability to appropriately monitor hiring success, new post-hire solutions allow us to continuously validate our hiring decisions.

What’s more, this type of analysis allows us to explicitly demonstrate real ROI to executives.  What more pleasing information could a C-suite member hear than that HR is purposely staffing top performers who are clearly allowing the organization to concur business objectives?

About the Author:  Greg Moran is the President and CEO of, an Employee Selection and Automated Reference Checking technology suite as well as a respected author on Human Capital Management with published works including Hire, Fire & The Walking Dead and Building the Talent Edge.  Greg can be found blogging at, on twitter @CEOofChequed and Google+.


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