Data Driven HR: Impacts of Big Data on Recruiting

Published on 17-05-2018

We entered the third stage of recruiting and it seems like especially one term can’t be avoided: Big Data. The technology is shaping and transforming the way we source and retain talent. We answered some of the big questions revolving around Big Data.

Recruitment is currently undergoing a massive shift. New technologies, such as artificial intelligence, enable us to recruit talent more efficient and applicant-friendly than ever before. We can source automatically on Social Media networks, build chatbots that schedule job interviews or let AI optimize our job ads – to only name a few possibilities. The driving force behind these new tools? Data. Loads of data.

And although we are making use of it (unconsciously) every day, many questions revolve around the topic of Big Data. We will tackle the following questions today:

  • What is Big Data? How does it work?
  • How does Big Data transform recruiting?
  • What are possible downsides of Big Data?

What is Big Data and how does it work?

We chat on Facebook, post pictures on Instagram, shop on Amazon and track activities with smartwatches – all of those actions generate data. We are basically living in a world that revolves around Big Data. All of this data is not only extremely complex but also produced in real-time, constantly. On a daily basis, users of the Internet generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, on average, according to recent research cites by Domo.

Currently, less than 0.5% of all data is being analysed and used
– just imagine the potential here!

The term ‘Big Data’ thus refers not only to those gigantic data sets but also to the techniques, tools, and frameworks that can be used to analyse them. Big Data thereby relies on a pretty logical principle: The more we know, the more precise can we predict what comes next. Relationships and connections emerge, by comparing more data points, which then can be used to predict possible future scenarios and make smarter decisions. However, no human data analyst would be able to do this job – simply because the scales involved are beyond our brain’s ability to process. That is why, Big Data projects often use newest technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. By teaching computers to identify what this data represents, for example through image recognition or natural language processing, they can learn to spot patterns much more quickly and reliably than humans.

big data stats


How does Big Data transform Recruiting?

Recruiting is undergoing a lot of change due to the availability of Big Data and analytics technologies. Here are the three biggest opportunities for Big Data in recruiting:

  • Optimising the Employer Brand
  • Focusing on most successful recruiting channels
  • Replacing gut feeling with Cultural Fit

Optimising Employer Brand

We at CompanyMatch believe that people are the most productive when they are happy. A strong employer brand will make your company stand out compared to competitors and therefore be your key advantage when recruiting and retaining the best talent. But how can Big Data help to develop a strong employer brand?

First of all, you can make use of Big Data analytics to identify if your theoretic employer brand is a reflection of reality. You can, for example, analyse social media posts or survey responses to determine how successful your brand really is. If you are redesigning your brand, you can make use of so-called ‘Pulse Surveys’ to measure employee engagement before, during and after the launch of your new brand.

Employer branding isn’t only about keeping your employees happy but also about what people say outside of the office or after they left your company. More and more companies, therefore, mine social media and review sites such as Glassdoor to gain helpful insights into their brand’s perception.

Focusing on most successful recruiting channels

Usually, companies use a wide variety of recruitment channels, including social media campaigns, headhunters, online job sites, and newspapers. It is crucial to have a clear understanding of which channels are the most successful to focus time, budget and energy accordingly. The wonderful thing about Big Data is that it allows you to measure the success rate of each and every single one of your channels more precisely than ever before. Instead of just looking at quantity, for example by measuring how many CVs you get from different channels, you can look at the quality of applications. For instance, you could assess your most successful employees and pinpoint from which channels they came from.

Replacing Gut Feeling with Cultural Fit

Unfortunately, most HR manager still base their hiring decision on their gut feeling. Big Data, however, enables us to find more suitable candidates that stay happy for longer in their position. New tools not only enable companies to compare and analyse candidates skill sets and past experiences but also to measure their cultural fit with a company’s culture. This will transform the recruitment industry. After all, 52% of talent acquisition leaders admit that identifying the right people from a large pool of applicants is the most difficult part of recruitment. Of course, the final hiring decision will always be made by a human but AI and Big Data can help to narrow the field down from maybe hundreds of candidates to the most suitable 10 or 20. More about the place of corporate culture in an increasingly digital world can be found in our recently published white paper.


Who owns the data we produce?

What are possible downsides of Big Data?

Just like every big technological shift, Big Data raises some major questions and concerns that should be addressed:

  • Data privacy
  • Data security
  • Data discrimination

Data Privacy – Does my data belong to me?

With the current Facebook data breach going on, the issue of data privacy is once again in the eye of the public. We generate a massive amount of Big Data on a daily basis that contains a lot of information about our personal (and private) lives – most of the time we aren’t even aware of this digital footprint. Finding the balance between revealing things about ourselves online and the convenience of Big Data-driven applications and services will be an ongoing issue concerning Big Data.

Data Security – Who can I trust with my data?

Even if we provide our data willingly for certain purposes, can we trust the company to keep it safe? As an employer, it is highly relevant to establish a trustful relationship with candidates, guaranteeing them that their data is in good hands. A well established, transparent employer brand is, once again, key.

Data Discrimination – What if my data is being used against me?

When everything is known, will it be acceptable to exclude or promote people based simply on their data? After all, we are already using systems such as credit scoring to rank people based on their information. In future, those assessments will become even more detailed and we must avoid that it is done in a way that is making life more difficult for those, who already have less access to data and resources. Also in terms of corporate culture and Cultural Fit, diversity remains key and needs to be integrated into Big Data applications and tools.

Looking into the future…

Big Data is changing today’s world and is constantly evolving – at high speed. The amount of data will increase, the tools to analyse it will become more and more advanced. Businesses that manage to integrate Big Data successfully will have a clear competitive advantage, not only in terms of retaining and recruiting talent. However, the technology’s limitations and downsides need to be addressed. Companies that ignore or violate them will become vulnerable – financially, legally and in terms of employer reputation. Currently, recruiting is still in its infancy of using Big Data, which makes it the perfect time for a company to start!

CompanyMatch published a white paper about the place of corporate culture in a digital world, based on scientific research and current studies. Feel free to download the free paper by filling out the attached form. 

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