This is a guest post by Kate Smedley.

When it comes to HR, is big data really that big or that necessary? For most employers it’s not comparable to the big data used by major retail organisations dealing with thousands of different channels and sources. It’s perhaps unsurprising that HR practitioners used to working with spreadsheets and e-mail in their hiring processes find the idea of ‘big’ data daunting.

That said, even for smaller businesses big data (in the form of HR analytics) can transform your hiring process when used effectively. Here’s how:-

Analyses existing data : Big data relies on volume to help to identify and predict patterns in your hiring processes. Begin by reviewing quality historical data you already have on employees hired in the last two years, for example. What progress have these hires made? What was the source of your most successful candidates? Consider the ones that didn’t work out and the high achievers you promoted. As you begin to gather data you build a picture which will enable HR to transform your hiring process.

Screens relevant criteria : Big data allows you to pay attention to the criteria that delivers result in your hiring process. PwC removed A level grades from its graduate screening in order to expand its talent pool by focusing on soft skills, rather than technical ability. Decide what is important for your business and adjust your screening process accordingly.

Identifies patterns in hiring : Big data helps to establish and predict patterns as well as indicate candidate stumbling blocks. At what point in your recruitment cycle are candidates dropping out of your pipeline?  If a complex application process is losing your business talent or your onboarding process is affecting the retention of your new hires, HR analytics will highlight those issues. Understanding patterns leads to improved HR strategies and better informed business decisions.

Enhances predictions : Big data enables HR to forecast future gaps in sourcing that may affect the ability of your business to generate revenue. How will your failure to hire a new sales executive by your target date impact your bottom line? Compare hiring data with your business critical metrics for success to improve hiring predictions.

Assists HR’s creativity : Big data enhances HR’s ability to be both creative and pro-active in its handling of the complex challenges of talent acquisition and workforce management. Move beyond reactive recruiting to create talent communities and identify the weak points in your hiring process or the skills gap in your workforce.

Successful hiring principles

Don’t be phased by big data. The information you already have equips you with the tools to create a pro-active approach to talent acquisition. Coupled with the following principles, big data will transform your hiring process:-

  • Build relationships with prospective employees in your talent community using recruiting software so that you have a potential pre-qualified shortlist in place before you need to hire that next position.
  • Always be hiring. The UK has the most urgent skills shortage in Europe with a ‘talent mismatch’ rating of 9.7 out of 10. If your applicant tracking software identifies a candidate with essential skills in your talent pool, don’t wait until the time is right. Hire them now.
  • Review and assess your recruitment analytics and data consistently to measure success against your criteria. Scale your HR technology to meet the needs of your business. Businesses that use big data state that their new hires are 9% more likely to ‘exceed expectations’ at performance review. HR is also twice as likely to be happy with its new hires.

Download the report here – ‘Big Data – Overcoming the HR Fear Factor’.


IMG011With 18 years of experience in recruitment and HR, Kate Smedley writes on behalf of Advorto. Advorto’s recruitment software provides workflow and structure across the entire hiring process, offering a dynamic database of candidates and analytics. Used by some of the world’s leading organisations, it provides a straightforward first step into HR analytics and big data.