How Analytics are Used for Talent Acquisition: A Call for Best Practices

Okay I admit it. I am a data geek, and a firm believer in the power of analytics. It is amazing the amount of intelligence that can be gleaned from publicly available data. I recently attended the HR Technology Conference & Expo in Las Vegas and learned how some providers are using predictive analytics and aggregated data to hone their talent acquisition solutions.

analytics best practicesThe concern I have is that as we continue to pioneer new solutions that impact candidate selection, there should be best practices with respect to transparency, degree of accuracy, intermingling of data sources, and delineation of what constitutes the original candidate profile, as indicated in a resume, and what constitutes the added enhancements.  Solution providers must keep their algorithms private, but it would be good to know they are using their “secret sauce” in accordance with industry best practices.  Okay, I know I am opening up a can of worms with this statement, but let’s not be too afraid to dive in and see what we can and cannot accomplish, using job-posting distribution and candidate sourcing as examples.

Job Posting Distribution: Several providers are offering solutions that automatically select or suggest the best sites to publish job postings, based on past success metrics and/or past job distribution behavior.  Examples of some of these providers are:  SmartRecruiters, Gild, and Smashfly.  Smashfly automatically distributes jobs to the boards always used for certain jobs without recruiter involvement. SmartRecruiters uses predictive analytics to identify the best job boards.

Candidate Sourcing: Solution providers are using a variety of internal (to the client) and external data sources to help employers identify the best candidates by adding “intelligence” to the candidate profile or the sourcing/candidate selection process itself, such as likely time-to-fill a position based on market parameters, likelihood of a candidate succeeding through the organization’s hiring process, likelihood of a candidate changing jobs, candidate demand, skill ratings, and other metrics. Some of these providers using a variety of approaches include: Gild, Entelo, Monster’s TalentBin,  PeopleFluent, and Randstad Sourceright’s Talentradar – as part of their Recruitment Process Outsourcing solution.

Monster’s TalentBin, which focuses on the technical talent market, provides a view of each candidate’s professional and social interests based on that candidate’s social footprint.  Gild uses its technology to gather data from many sites and automatically rank prospects based on their skills.

Some Philosophical Questions

I think we are seeing just the beginning of how data is being used for talent acquisition.  As I mentioned before, my concern is mostly centered on how this new trend impacts candidate selection. Computers are not perfect (though very close to it, I admit) and not all candidates have a social footprint, and those who do can have varying levels of information available. Are candidates who have a limited social footprint at a disadvantage when a solution provider enhances those candidates’ resumes? How is that handled by the solution provider? Which types of data sources should be excluded from these algorithms? How much information should be transparent to the employers and candidates?

Employers will always make subjective decisions about who they hire. Solution providers are helping employers improve their decision-making process, but let’s do it in a way that is somewhat transparent to the employer and the candidate. I look forward to seeing the future of data analytics in talent acquisition and how the industry will manage the process.

Daria Friedman, Principal Talent Acquisition Analyst, Brandon Hall Group



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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.