Analytics for Recruiting in Six Easy Steps

“We’ve definitely seen a lot of discussion about big data in the recruiting process, but right now it’s mostly just talk,” said Elissa Tucker, research program manager for the American Productivity and Quality Center, a business benchmarking and best practices firm in Houston.

APQC’s recent survey shows that while using workforce data adds value to recruiting decision-making, 29 percent of organizations don’t do it at all, and few look beyond basic measures of productivity. “They are not as far along as you might think.”

It’s not that the technology or the data isn’t available, it’s that companies still haven’t developed the skills, processes and culture to make it work.

For companies that are interested in getting started but don’t know how to begin, Tucker and a few other recruiting analytics experts offer this advice.

1. Don’t be intimidated. With all the talk in the media and at conferences about the transformative benefits of workforce analytics, it can seem like everyone is doing it but you. “Not true,” Tucker said. “Most organizations are just getting started, and even the most advanced companies are not yet doing predictive analytics.”

She urges talent managers and recruiters to do some research on analytics for recruiting, and to talk to their peers and other department leaders about how they might apply analytics to their recruiting processes.

2. Define your goals before you buy software. “You need to understand what problems you are trying to solve before you jump into technology,” said Tony Marzulli, vice president of product management for talent solutions at payroll company ADP. HR leaders need to identify a business process or problem they want to address — like how to find passive candidates or improve time to productivity, then decide what software will help them do that. “When you start with what you want to accomplish, you will choose a better tool.”

3. Start small. Choose one or two pieces of tactical data, such as annual turnover, cost of hire or time to productivity, then track how various aspects of your recruiting process affect them, Marzulli said. For example, look at which hiring source or recruiter has the lowest turnover rate, or whether certain managers or regions demonstrate a shorter time to productivity. “This analysis will give you a more holistic view of what impacts your productivity,” he said.

4. Embrace the change. The only way workforce analytics will improve recruiting outcomes is if the people doing the hiring actually incorporate the data into their decision-making process, said Larry Jacobson, director of global technology talent acquisition for Vistaprint in Boston.
That means any analytics rollout should include training and conversations with key leaders about the value it will bring to the business. “People have to be open-minded to what the data is telling them, or it won’t work,” he said.

5. Measure your results. After you identify some issues and establish a baseline of the current state, make some changes and then review the data again. “Did your costs decrease? Did the time to hire shrink?” Tucker said. “You can use the first measure as a baseline to see whether your efforts are working.”

6. Remember, it’s an art, not a science. If you are waiting for the data to be 100 percent accurate before you move forward with analytics, you’re never going to get anywhere, Jacobson said. “Workforce analytics is like baseball — a .300 hitter is an all-star,” he said. In other words, if the data helps you to be more informed about the choices you make, then it adds value to the process.