Small Data: Is It the Best Approach to Recruiting With Data?

Small Data: Is It the Best Approach to Recruiting With Data?

Michael Altiero

Talent acquisition has a problem. It’s one that stumps many leaders, both inside and outside of recruiting. That problem, of course, is Big Data. What is it? How do you get started? How can my team leverage data analytics?

All of these questions (and there are more!) hinder HR and recruiting’s ability to take advantage of all that data and analytics have to offer. Perhaps the single most daunting aspect when it comes to Big Data is just how “big” it actually is. So what can talent acquisition do to overcome this problem?

Perhaps the answer lies within focusing on small data.

What is Small Data?

Before we get into why small data may be better for many scenarios in recruiting, you might be wondering what is small data in the first place. According to Mike Kavis, VP/Principal Architect for Cloud Technology Partners, “Small data is a dataset that contains very specific attributes. Small data is used to determine current states and conditions or may be generated by analyzing larger data sets.”

And, as you might imagine, small data differs from big data in more ways than just the name: “Big Data analyzes the past – and thus is rarely able to predict the future. Small Data explores untouched terrain – and thus is better able to discern and predict new trends,” says Martin Lindstrom, author of Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends.

Small Data and Recruiting: A Perfect Mix

Now that we know what small data is, how can it help recruiting? First off, small data allows for immediate business impacts and results. Fred Shilmover ,CEO of InsightSquared, explains: “While Big Data is the promise of tomorrow, Small Data is what will generate cash for SMBs today. Small Data has the power to help businesses improve operational processes, increase ROI and drive better performance across entire organizations.”

Part of the reason for this is that small data can be customized from company to company. If your team only wants to look at certain sets of data, you can. This is extremely helpful when it comes to establishing recruiting metrics for your team. Essentially, small data allows you to eliminate all of the noise and instead focus only on what can and will provide positive business impacts for your team.

Don’t Sweat Small Data – Embrace It!

Many recruiting leaders have been reluctant to get into the big data game, and with good reasons. Not only can Big Data be intimidating, it can also be overwhelming. The sheer volume of data collected by many organizations is often overkill when it comes to recruiting. Small data is the complete opposite.

Most importantly, small data provides talent acquisition teams the best means to becoming a data-driven organization. And being data-driven will have wide-ranging positive impacts for your recruiting efforts.

As Sharon Florentine, Senior Writer for, puts it, “Focusing on ‘small data’ can not only improve the speed and efficiency of your hiring process and pinpoint obstacles in your organization, it can make it easier to find passive talent candidates.”

Recruiters: Don’t just think about big data. Take advantage of small data where possible and see results in the near future.

Interested in improving your recruiting performance? Sign up for the Data Driven Recruiter blog and check out our new report on Quality of Hire below:

quality of hirecareer site assessment

Posted In

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *