Have No Fear About Scary Big Data #BigDataHR

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This week on Blogging4Jobs, we are focusing on the theme Big Data sponsored by Jibe. Jibe provides cloud-based recruiting technology solutions that enable talent acquisition teams to strategically identify, attract and engage candidates. Join us April 10th 2014 at 3pm to talk Big Data on Twitter using the hashtag #BigDataHR and join our webinar, “What’s the Big Deal with Big Data in HR & Recruiting” on April 17th at 11a EST. Follow the week by bookmarking us

Ahhh, Big Data… it sounds so frightening, doesn’t it? I know I get a bit paralyzed when I hear the term, especially when I’m tasked with writing about it. But in reality, it’s not that scary. Not if you think about it in the proper terms.

The first thing to do to help ease these pre-conditioned fears is to lose the term “Big Data” altogether. When I hear that term, I just think of a sea of numbers, a mountain of spreadsheets and my lifelong struggle with anything having to do with math. I always want to run the other way when math is involved. The term Big Data refers to the vastly increased amount of numbers and information today’s hyper-connected world has put at our fingertips. When put in that context, the sheer volume of data can seem daunting to the point of throwing one’s hands up in the air. But when you start to zero in and think about the real-life application of what can be done with that data, the initial fears begin to turn into excitement.

But the question remains, where do you begin? How do you transform all this Big Data into something meaningful and useful? That’s a gigantic task, no doubt. Do you need to hire a team of data scientists to tackle this? Do you need to dedicate a host of internal IT resources to this project? Or can you look outside your organization to find the help and turnkey solutions you need?

Well, in the past year alone, a host of solutions have been brought to market that distill the big, scary sea of data into user-friendly solutions, including Jibe’s own Recruiting Analytics™. Previously, solutions that were touted as offering advanced analytics really only offered a small subset of data around a company’s recruitment activities. Furthermore, the data was typically presented in static, non-intuitive or customizable ways, often times even utilizing spreadsheets. This was not helping to ease any fears about leveraging Big Data to improve and optimize recruiting. We knew there had to be a better way.

So, as we began to develop our own solution, we engaged with clients to get their perspective, and surveyed the wider industry on current practices, frustrations and needs when it comes to utilizing data in recruiting. Here are two very important data points that survey yielded:

  • On average, talent acquisition professionals spend more than 22 working hours a month managing and manipulating data
  • 75% of recruiters surveyed said they don’t have a total view of their recruiting efforts based on the data they currently have

These data points tell us that in order to allay the fear and hesitancy around truly applying Big Data to recruiting, and move the practice from hype to reality, solutions need to do two things: 1) Offer a superior user experience; and 2) Provide analysis around the full spectrum of a firm’s talent acquisition practices.

First, let’s tackle user experience (UX). There is a lot of very welcome chatter about the importance of improved UX with regard to current and future HR technology, and analytics solutions are no different. As a recruiter or hiring manager, having to spend close to a week out of every month just to interpret and make sense of the data you have is a productivity killer. If Big Data is truly going to take off and gain traction in HR, it needs to be presented in a fashion that is easily digestible, fully customizable and available in real-time. Talent acquisition professionals should be able to access whatever data set they need at any given moment, from wherever they are. And it should be presented in a way that can be immediately understood by anyone, no data science degree needed.

Ok, so you’ve found a way to get your recruiting data in a clean, easy-to-understand format, and maybe it’s even delivered in real-time – that’s great! But what does the data you’re receiving actually tell you? Are you still only seeing site traffic and job board performance data?  If so, you’re barely scratching the surface of Big Data’s true potential for talent acquisition.

A truly useful recruiting analytics solution should allow you to drill down deep into every step of the hiring process. By doing so, you’ll be able to identify where your candidates are dropping off, and then make improvements to the process. If your analytics solution doesn’t offer this, you’ll be hard pressed to increase efficiency throughout the hiring funnel, improve conversion rates, or truly enhance your overall candidate experience.

Big Data applied the right way should allow you to identify where the gaps in your hiring process are. For instance, if your analytics reveal that the majority of candidates for software engineering positions are dropping out at the resume upload stage, you can make improvements to that process by offering a more robust apply solution, allowing them to more easily pull resumes from multiple sources. Or maybe you discover that executive-level finance candidates are dropping out at the offer stage because your average time between the interview and the offer is too long. That’s information you can use to make improvements to your time-to-hire metric immediately, and that’s when the true power of Big Data and analytics begins to reveal itself.”

And that’s when fear transforms into excitement.

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