4 Ways Spreadsheets Are Holding Back Your Recruiting Performance

4 Ways Spreadsheets Are Holding Back Your Recruiting Performance

Mike Roberts

recruiting analysis with spreadsheetsDespite larger enterprises typically having more resources for IT investments, research shows that 87% of companies using HR analytics have less than 2,500 employees. This aligns with the hesitation we’ve seen at big organizations around recruiting analytics. While many recruiting leaders are interested in what analytics can do, most have stayed the course with traditional methods for managing performance—spreadsheets.

As we discussed a few weeks back, the spreadsheet approach to monitoring recruiting performance is a staple in the early stages of an organization’s recruiting maturity. During this stage, most analyses are executed in an ad-hoc manner, often as a reaction to a particular problem or challenge. This performance management strategy—of course—is not optimal but it seems to have a presence in so many large companies.

For companies using spreadsheets rather than dedicated recruiting analytics to measure performance, there are several key disadvantages that should be considered.

1. Human Analysis Is Susceptible to Human Error

Although technology may not always be one hundred percent accurate, its precision is light years ahead of what’s possible by humans. An untrained or tired employee—for example—could easily falter during the process of pulling information from the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or while analyzing data. This diminishes the data integrity for his or her own use, but it also makes using the data virtually worthless for comparative purposes.

2. Processes for Analyzing Data Are Unstandardized

Every recruiting organization seems to have at least one person who’s a whiz at wrangling ATS data or finding insights from it with Excel. But one of the greatest challenges associated with this manual process—or any manual process for that matter—is the lack of standardization makes it not easily repeatable or scalable. Not to mention that if and when this whiz leaves, that knowledge often does as well.

3. Manual Analysis Takes Away from Recruiters Providing Value

Depending on the size of the organization there may be a dedicated data analyst, but even in some large operations many recruiters are still responsible for their own numbers. Recruiters have so many different functions, and data analysis shouldn’t be their main one. Rather than being heads down in a spreadsheet, their time could be better spent with activities that provide value, like mining relationships.

4. There Is No Single Version of the Truth

With a lack of standardization in the way data is used and—presumably—metrics are calculated, this makes it very difficult to actually benchmark organizational performance. At large global companies, having the ability to identify trends in performance is key to figuring out where more or less resources may be needed, ultimately driving a better return on efforts. But without a single version of the truth, this becomes a challenge.

Analyzing Recruiting Data Like It’s 2015

There is truly a transformation that happens when professionals start making data-backed decisions. As much of an art as some recruiters may think the field is, having the science—or data—to back up and guide decisions is what drives repeatable performance. The ability to test, review, adjust, and then iterate is the foundation of continuous improvement, but achieving that is difficult with spreadsheets.

Professionals in other fields are well aware of the benefits of analytics. For the most part, their use of spreadsheets is exclusive to ad-hoc analyses, but in terms of performance management they have come to rely on analytics that deliver standardized information and leverage next-generation analysis and data visualization tools. For many business functions—like marketing, for instance—analytics have changed everything.

In talent acquisition, we seem to be entering the start of a new era—the rise of the data-driven culture. Gut feelings and subjectivity will always have a place in this field, but moving the needle in 2015 and into the future will take more than that.

Although recruiting analytics adoption numbers aren’t soaring, there’s definitely been an uptick in interest among the talent acquisition community. Solutions have come a long way in a short amount of time, and many forward-thinking companies are now digging into data with advanced tools. With data-driven cultures becoming the new norm, it’s likely we’ll see broader adoption in large companies as we move through the second half of this decade.

Interested in recruiting analytics and the future of big data in talent acquisition? Sign up for the Data Driven Recruiter blog.

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