Big Data – How to Find the Right Candidate in a Digital Age?

Tue, 15 Mar 2016Recruiting Challenges

We now create more information in a minute than all the data generated from the beginning of time up to the year 2000. That stat puts Big Data in perspective. It’s actually an understatement, not so much ‘big’ as mind-blowingly enormous. And the phenomenon is fundamentally changing recruitment.

Having lots of data is one thing but how do we convert this information into something useful? Knowledge is power but only if you know how to use it. The important thing is the ability to drill down into – and leverage – the rich data mine at our fingertips to improve employee retention and recruitment performance.

In our digital world, everything we do is increasingly leaving a digital trace – or, data. Big Data refers to the collection of this data, the extraction of relevant information and the analysis of its implications.

How can Big Data help with hiring?

Social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter now collect vast amounts of personal data from their users and this data provides a way to tap into potential leads. LinkedIn has access to over 400 million members’ information and it recently ramped up its use of data analytics to deliver a more informed approach to its job listing for recruiters and job seekers.

From a hiring point of view, social data is a deep pool of information that can be exploited if you can extract the relevant information. Tracking the online habits of millions of people allows you to establish statistical trends and common behaviours – to see where they go and what they like. You can use these data points to form a general digital footprint that matches suitable people to the jobs you are trying to fill – if you can access the data.

Using this footprint as a template, you can tailor your advertising to target passive candidates who fit your candidate profile. For instance, imagine you want to hire an IT analyst and you know that 90% of IT analysts hang out on a certain forum on a regular basis. It only makes sense to advertise your job on that site.

Another example is the way Google targeted software engineer Max Rossett, who was approached after Googling “python lambda function list comprehension”. It shows that Google’s algorithm was primed to access Big Data and his personal information to determine if he was a suitable candidate.

Online resources help

A growing number of resources are available online to help recruiters find those glittering nuggets in the data mine – including the aptly named Gild.

This startup evaluates the quality of programmers’ free, open-source code and then ranks them in a database. It also tracks these programmers’ social media activity to see if they’re a good cultural fit for your organisation. Gild’s use of Big Data establishes the merits of an individual’s coding and then uses data analysis to identify the best match for an employer.

It also uses a predictive engine and data-driven approach to identify the best time to reach out to a prospect. This flags people who are ripe for an approach, even if they don’t yet realise they want to change jobs.

Entelo is a company that collects a full digital profile of talented individuals by aggregating publicly available social data from a wide range of sources. They sweep through everything from contributions on forums and attendance at conferences, to activity on sites like StackOverflow.

This information is all out there but Entelo leverages a Big Data approach to collate it and uses predictive analytics to turn it into a database of profiles for employers. Entelo also identifies the ideal time to reach out to programmers who may be disaffected, with its “More Likely to Move” feature. This uses social signals, like increased activity on LinkedIn, or organisational changes like additional layoffs in their department, to judge a prospect’s readiness to leave a position. That’s one obvious way to get a recruitment edge.

Aggregating data from a variety of social networks to match employers with top candidates is the speciality of Bright, another useful resource that has since been absorbed by LinkedIn. It was acquired by LinkedIn in 2014 and it uses thousands of data points to match job seekers and employers. The acquisition of Bright was LinkedIn’s biggest to date and signifies the growing importance of data analytics to the recruitment industry.

Hireday takes millions of data points from all of the leading UK job boards, crunches the numbers and comes up with the best matching job boards for your particular position. This ‘job/board match’ is a rating of how suitable each board is for the particular job you’re looking to fill – allowing you to easily maximise your recruiting budget.

Hireday takes millions of data points from all of the leading UK job boards, crunches the numbers and comes up with the best matching job boards for your particular position. This ‘job/board match’ is a rating of how suitable each board is for the particular job you’re looking to fill – allowing you to easily maximise your recruiting budget.

Stay informed

The message is that Big Data is changing the way we approach recruitment. Résumés, references and recommendations are increasingly being enhanced by databases, statistical analysis and data mining. In an age of information, it’s no surprise that the secret to hiring success depends on your ability to stay informed and to make sure that you’re using the best tools for your job.

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Farid Oudjane
CEO & Founder at Hireday
Farid enjoys writing about recruitment, technology and updates to Hireday.
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