Why your hiring strategy needs to start with data
Why you need a data strategy.
Make better hires and improve your processes.
The role of data in the hiring process.
Helping you hire the right skills, reduce bias and plan for the future.
Making data work for you.
It’s only as powerful as the action you put behind it.
The future of data-driven recruitment.
Putting data at the heart of your talent function.
Why you need a data strategy
Data helps you make informed decisions about the candidates you hire, the skills you should hire for in the future and the team you need in place to make it all happen. We’re obsessed with data-driven talent, see how our solution supports you getting geeky.
From real-time market insights like average salaries (by role type, seniority and region) right through to internal process improvements — a data strategy will give you access to all of this information, and the tools to act on it.
The payoff is huge: shorter time-to-hire and time-to-fill, higher acceptance rates, better candidate experience.
And for your talent partners, data can provide a real sense of reassurance. There’s no room for second-guessing or assumptions, and having data to back up decisions is empowering.
According to Gartner’s Unbounded Workforce report, 93% of managers and 77% of senior leaders feel poorly prepared for the future. In a world of shifting priorities, high candidate expectations and market saturation, data helps talent partners learn, improve and have confidence in the critical decisions they make.
The role of data in the hiring process.
Data strategies are tricky to get right. Too much data can be overwhelming. Not enough can send you down the wrong path. You really need to start by thinking about why you need data in the first place and what you plan to do with it.
So, how does a data-driven recruitment process benefit your business?
1. Hiring the right skills
Innovation and investment in new tech is happening quicker than ever and talent teams need to keep up — not only in workplace trends, but in the new roles companies are rapidly hiring for.
The Institute For The Future estimate that 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 didn’t exist in 2018. And research by Gartner found that three-quarters of jobs had more than 40% of their required skills change in the three years leading up to 2019.
You only have to look at the rise of Web3 over the past couple of years to see how roles, companies and entire industries can change drastically with advancements in technology.
Building the future workplace is going to take a whole lot of creativity, innovation and the ability to adapt quickly as the market inevitably changes.
2. Meeting candidate expectations
Candidates with niche skills know just how much you need them. If you’re hiring for specialist roles, it’s important to remember candidates are in a strong position and will be expecting big things from your business if they are going to consider switching jobs for you.
You could spend a lot of time debating what candidates want and looking at generic market trends, but you already have access to the most powerful tool: your own candidate experience.
With the right analytics in place, you’ll get invaluable insights to help attract and retain top talent.
But data will only get you so far. If you really want to attract specialists, you need to give them a reason to start your process in the first place so you have something to measure.
You’ll need to:
- Build a strong employer brand that offers more than decent pay and generic benefits
- Design a careers website that brings your values and candidate proposition together into a compelling story
- Have a strong data strategy, analytics and reporting in place that tell you how candidates are experiencing your hiring process (and crucially, where they’re struggling or dropping out)
- Continually analyse data and adapt your approach so you can meet evolving demands
3. Reducing bias in the hiring process
Diverse teams create diverse ideas, which leads to more innovation. Building DEI metrics into your talent attraction strategy helps you identify and reduce bias, as well as making your business a place where people from all backgrounds will thrive and feel fulfilled.
According to McKinsey,
“diverse businesses make more money.”
They found companies with a gender diverse executive team have a 25% chance of financial outperformance, and those with an ethnically diverse board can outperform by 36%.
Reducing bias in your hiring process is not a quick or easy task, though. You’ll need to:
Start with research
If you’re going to build an EVP and people strategy that attracts and supports a diverse candidate pool, you need to start by understanding the experiences and needs of people from a wide range of backgrounds. Run research sessions to get some honest feedback on your current process, ask what inclusive hiring means to them, and listen to the challenges they’ve faced before.
This kind of insight will help you approach hiring in the right way, appeal to a broader range of candidates and become a much more diverse and inclusive organisation (which we’ve already seen comes with huge rewards).
Measure the right things
How many people with protected characteristics are applying for roles?
How many of those are making their way through the funnel? Are there points in your process where they’re disproportionately dropping out? How masculine/feminine is the language you use and is that impacting who applies?
These are the kind of metrics that will tell if your process is inclusive and attractive to people from a variety of backgrounds. They don’t replace existing measures; they work alongside them to paint a more accurate picture of how well you’re doing.
Use data to shape your policies. As with anything, the challenge is making sure the approach is understood and managed consistently across your business, and not influenced by individual bias (conscious or not).
If you’ve started with research and put the right metrics in place, you should have some invaluable insight to inform the way you work. Turn that in to clear policies, train talent partners and hiring managers, and spot check hiring processes to make sure the right steps are being followed.
4. Planning for future demand.
There are two aspects to this. Firstly, you need a deep understanding of how your hiring process is working so that you can help candidates and hiring managers with their own planning.
What’s your average time-to-hire and time-to-fill? Does this vary by role or business area? How long is it taking to onboard new recruits? These are all questions they’ll ask, so having a strong data set can help you answer more accurately.
Secondly, and this is a big one, you need data to inform how you can operate a talent team that’s big enough to cope with demands during periods of boom and lean enough to survive periods of bust.
Hiring doesn’t start when you advertise the job. It starts way before that when someone in the business decides there is capacity and budget. But when budgets get stripped back and hiring freezes are brought in, talent teams inevitably feel the pressure.
By having the right data in place, you can more accurately predict the future capacity of your team rather than just looking at the next 2-3 months of demand. If you’ve had analytics in place for some time, you can also use it to justify keeping more headcount by showing how much time and money it took to rebuild the talent team last time there were cuts.
Making data work for you
Data is only ever as powerful as the action you put behind it. The type of data you source, the metrics you track, the decisions you make, the processes you implement; you need a clear plan for it all, and the capacity in your talent team to make it happen.
Collecting hiring data
There are plenty of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS’s) that will give you visibility of your time-to-hire, time-to-offer and time-to-fill, but that’s not the whole picture. We’re yet to find a system that can monitor and assess the end-to-end candidate experience, so it’s likely you’ll need to collect data from multiple sources and build a data strategy that includes several processes and tools.
To tackle this challenge when working with our partners, we’ve found the best way to stay in control of data (without the limitations of ATS reporting capability) is to build our own data reporting that plugs into existing BI technology.
When we started working with Carbon Clean, their recruitment was managed solely by an RPO, with no ATS in place and an average time-to-offer of 135 days. This model did not support ambitious growth targets, or the talent team responsible for achieving them.
We worked with them to implement talent acquisition software that gave them much bigger visibility of their process, and the ability to track candidates from their own website, LinkedIn and other job boards.
This helped bring their time-to-offer down to 26 days and attracted 14,661 candidates in just 6 months. By automating more of their processes, they were much less reliant on head hunting, could target the right candidates in the right places, and could quickly get to market when new roles were needed outside of the original hiring plan.
Regardless of the tools you choose to use, you need to start by understanding your existing system limitations and have the capability in your team to assess new tools and build a robust data strategy centred around what your business really needs (and is ready for).
Creating a solid data set
With a solid data set, analytics and reporting in place, you’ll gain invaluable insight into industry trends, stay on top of changing candidate expectations and monitor how well your team and processes are performing.
As you start collecting, testing and using data to make decisions, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of digging deeper and deeper, or looking for the answers you want. But having too much data, or no real plan for it, can be a monumental waste of time and money. Knowing when to stop collecting data and start analysing it is a real skill.
The future of data-driven recruitment
The future is data. For talent teams to ride the economical wave we’re heading in to, they’re going to need to embrace the technology that will help them become more agile.
We’re just starting to scratch the surface of what AI and automation are capable of, but we do know they have the potential to completely transform the way hiring happens.
If you’re going to get (and stay) ahead, you need to put the right people, processes and tools in place to support a solid data strategy — and commit to responding when that data tells you something’s not working.
Putting data at the heart of your talent function
Technology is going to dramatically shift the way talent teams operate, posing some considerable challenges for talent leadership. You’ll have to prepare for the technical complexity of making it happen, all while supporting a team that will be concerned about how much tech will change, or even replace, their roles.
In PWC’s Workforce of the Future research, they found that 37% of people are worried about automation putting jobs at risk. 74% are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain in order to remain employable in the future, and an incredible 70% said they’d even consider using treatments to enhance their brain and body if it improved employment prospects.
The challenge will be convincing talent partners that tech exists to support them, and create the space for them to focus on the irreplaceable benefits of human interaction.
How to build a data-driven recruitment strategy
1. Start with your people
You need to change the way people think about data and embed it into the culture and day-to-day operation of your team. Every meeting should involve team members sharing updates backed up by data.
Not everyone has an analytical mindset, so you’ll need to invest in training. Don’t assume people will be able to acquire, analyse and tell a story with data; you’ll very likely need to push your team to develop skills in this area.
2. Use data to tell stories & influence
Once your talent team understands the benefits of data and can find their way around an insight report, they can use it to tell stories and back up decisions with the wider business. The challenge with data is that everyone will have an opinion on it or interpret it based on their own assumptions and biases, which is why your story needs to be compelling, evidence-based and robust enough to manage opinions.
In our experience working with clients on developing and embedding hiring data strategies, we’ve found the best way to influence stakeholders is to create a dashboard for each project. That way, the people who need to be updated have access to the data whenever they want it and talent partners can share progress and insights without prompting too many opinions or debate.
3. Inform your future strategy
Once you have the technology in place and key stakeholders on board, you’ll be in a position to use the data you capture much more strategically — shifting your focus from how to manage the hiring process efficiently, to defining how your talent team and the teams you’re hiring for are set up for the future.