How to Make Data-Driven Decisions Part of Your Talent Acquisition Strategy

Data has been driving decision making in business for decades, but it’s just started to become an important part of HR and recruiting in the last several years. As companies started being able to gather meaningful data through new technologies and automated processes, it proved to be valuable in guiding decisions and strategies. Of course it stands to reason that data could shed light on what’s going right, what’s going wrong, and how you should adjust, but it’s sometimes thought of as only important to the traditional profit centers of the business. However, talent acquisition has carved out its own place among the functions of the business that have a tangible impact on an organization’s bottom line, which makes data more important than ever.  

Many organizations are currently gathering data from a number of sources and tools, but a lot of them aren’t putting that data to use. Analyzing the information and using it to make data-driven decisions is more complex, but it’s worthwhile. Intuition and experience are vital to talent acquisition success, but data-driven decisions must be part of your talent acquisition strategy in order to compete today, have the support of leadership and make the most of your time and budget.  

Here are four ways you can start making data-driven decisions a normal part of your strategy: 

Use data to forecast future needs 

Data is your real-world fortune teller. By analyzing data on your current workforce, company financials, hiring timeframes and more, your talent acquisition strategy can get away from vague statements and start communicating data-driven decisions about how, when and why you’ll be hiring in the future. For instance, you can utilize internal data on employee tenure and turnover (such as performance evaluation scores, compensation, commute time, number of sick days taken, etc.), and use that to predict how many employees you’ll need to replace in the coming year. Similarly, you can use financial data (parsed and analyzed by your finance department) to determine future workforce needs based on the financial predictions for the year. And of course, by looking at your talent acquisition statistics, you can determine if your team can meet future needs or will need to adjust, and when to start building talent pipelines to fill a need. All these insights allow you to develop a realistic and appropriate strategy.  

Look to data to decide where to spend your time and energy 

By looking at what is most successful among your hiring efforts, you can easily build a strategy based on proven success. This allows you to cut out the methods and channels that aren’t performing and be strategic about where you spend your energy and budget. To gather this information, look at the channels you are using to recruit and evaluate how they’re performing. Measure hiring success by source of hire, time to hire by source, candidate success by source, employee performance by source, and tenure by source. You may also want to drill down into your recruiting methods and evaluate their success by looking at the return on investment on the time and money spent doing certain activities. This will show you if the ways in which you’re spending your time are worthwhile, or if taking extra steps yields the same results as taking fewer. 

Use data to determine the types of candidates to target 

Your current workforce holds the secrets of future hiring success. Right in front of you are plenty of examples of the perfect employee, a middle-of-the-road team member and those you shouldn’t even hire. Evaluate the qualities each of these groups possess to identify your model candidate and use that to guide your recruiting strategy. For instance, this may reveal that employees with a certain degree or from a particular university fit exceptionally well, which would guide your recruiting strategy to reach those groups. There are a number of factors you can look at, but what’s important is that you are measuring success in whatever way is important to your company, and cross referencing it with various factors, which could cover anything from personal interests to personality type to college GPA to a certain type of interview answer. Gaining insight on what makes your ideal candidate tick allows you to focus your talent acquisition strategy like never before and make decisions about who to hire based on more than just a guess.  

Make data part of your pitch  

Because data is spreading into the HR and recruiting space, more leaders are expecting to see talent acquisition strategies that go beyond planning to do what’s always been done, andinstead are guided by data-driven decisions. Presenting data as part of your strategy makes it easier to understand and support, and can help your C-suite feel confident in the direction you’ve chosen. By using data to paint a picture of the future direction of your organization, you give leadership the same opportunity you had to make data-driven decisions. HR and recruiting have always been seen as a soft-skills area, but data gives you the power to join the rest of the organization in building plans and strategies based on real results and forecasting.  

As your organization becomes more acquainted with data, the ways in which you use it will expand and develop even further. These are four powerful yet simple ways to make data-driven decisions part of your talent acquisition strategy, but you’ll likely find that it’s beneficial in many areas. With the competitive nature of hiring today and the financial investment that companies are making in this space, it’s crucial that decisions are made based off more than a hunch and it’s data that makes that possible.  

 

Will Staney

Will is the Founder and Principal Consultant at Proactive Talent Strategies, LLC and the former Head of Global Talent Acquisition at rapidly-growing startups Twilio andGlassdoor. Prior to that he held recruiting leadership roles at enterprise software leaders VMwareSuccessFactors and SAPwhere he lead strategic programs includingemployer brandingsourcing strategy, recruiting operations and systems process design.

During his over 7 years as a recruiting practitioner, after 10 years in sales and marketing, he developed a passion for building what he calls "modern recruiting machines". He would push innovation from the inside, execute on his vision, and once it was realized he would pass the torch on to those he had mentored and move on to his next challenge. He was destined to start a consultancy so he could help as many companies as possible adopt a more proactive recruiting strategy with community in mind.

In his free time, Will enjoys riding his motorcycle, trying out the newest gadgets, and spending time with his two kids, Foster and Felicity.