The Rise of the Data-Driven Culture in Recruiting

The Rise of the Data-Driven Culture in Recruiting

Mike Roberts

data driven culture definedIf you don’t have credible information to back up your hypothesis, investment decision, or anything else that could easily be left to subjectivity, then you’re just not going to attain the same degree of buy-in and trust from key people. This is the world we live in today—some companies have come to live and die by data. And as technology evolves, the oft-talked about “data-driven culture” is becoming more of a reality.

Although the recruiting world has been a little behind the curve in using data to support decisions, we’re starting to see that change quickly. Talking with leaders from some of the biggest brands, just about every one would like to see their talent acquisition professionals, from sourcers and recruiters on up, use data more strategically. But building a data-driven culture isn’t something that can be done over night.

In this post, we’ll define the data-driven culture, inspect how job functions outside of talent acquisition are approaching the use of data, and discuss what laggard recruiting teams can do to move the dial with data.

What Is a Data-Driven Culture?

At a high level, a data-driven culture is one where it’s the norm for professionals to leverage information to guide their decisions. In this environment, it’s common to hear phrases like “informed decisions,” “measurable improvements,” or something along those lines. These all relate to the idea that everything that matters is being tracked, and when necessary that information is used as the basis for changing behavior or actions.

How strategically an organization uses its information is typically a matter of capability maturity. But data-driven cultures tend to be a bit further along in the maturity journey than average—using data analytics and visualization tools to proactively (sometimes predictively) seek out opportunities for improvement.

In case you need a refresher on maturity models and what they mean for recruiting with data, you can read up on them here:

Society Is Becoming More Data-Driven

In the recruiting field, there’s not so much skepticism around the utility of data analysis and visualization tools. It’s more a matter of inexperience and a relatively immature solutions market. Other industries have been leveraging analytics for quite some time—many years, in fact. Last week, Ron Thomas, CEO of Great Place to Work, shared examples from other industries. Here are a few from his article:

  • Financial Services: credit scoring, fraud detection, and underwriting
  • Retail: marketing promotions, inventory, demand forecasting
  • Manufacturing: supply chain optimization
  • Hospitality: pricing, customer loyalty, and yield management
  • Transportation: scheduling, routing, and yield optimization

But it’s not just in the business world where the use of analytics has become more prevalent. In recent years, analytics have become consumerized, offered out-of-the-box to support digital technology. For instance, the Twitter app on your phone now has a data analysis component for measuring the impact of every tweet you post to the internet. Analysis tools from Nest enable you to optimize your home energy use.

Based on the past, once a particular IT capability becomes consumerized, the rate of advancement tends to accelerate much quicker than it would if just left to the business world. Think about how popular the Blackberry was as a business device until the consumer-oriented iPhone changed everything—now smartphone technology is the norm for personal and business use.

The Data-Driven Culture in Recruiting

The challenge with immature recruiting organizations is that any analysis done tends to be executed in a reactive way, making it difficult to develop a data-driven culture. If your team is making decisions based only on ad-hoc analyses put together when a problem comes up (like a shortage of applicants for a position), then it’s nearly impossible to expect professionals to be making informed decisions.

In reality, the transformation toward a data-driven culture has to come from the top down. Recruiters need not only the skills and tools to start leveraging data more strategically, they also need a leader—or leaders—who believe in the idea of using data to guide decisions. Without that, accountability and integrity of any data captured for analysis is likely to fall by the wayside soon after the initiative begins.

In the past the journey toward recruiting maturity tended to follow a stepwise path. Companies would move from ad-hoc analyses and spreadsheets to more standardized reporting to some type of analytics tool. But as mentioned above, the consumerization of analytics, coupled with the already widespread adoption in other business functions is really enabling companies to bypass some of the steps in the journey.

That said, today’s recruiting leaders could encourage and even enable a data-driven culture more easily than ever before. With analytics solutions becoming increasingly available that integrate with the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), it’s now a matter of finding one that fits the needs of your organization—and fast. Because, not before long, there will be few recruiting teams that are still relying on spreadsheets.

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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