Enabling TechnologyRPO & StaffingTalent Acquisition

The Future Could Be Bright

Leveraging big data with customer relationship management applications is key to getting the best talent first.

By Dave Mendoza
Do you market to people? Hire people? Manage people? Research people? Recruit people? Work with people?

If you do, you’ve probably heard the term big data thrown around a bit. The stories of how market research harnessed the massive quantities of data that Target had on its customers’ purchasing behavior to accurately predict a young woman’s pregnancy. IBM is combing through 600,000 pieces of medical evidence, 2 million pages of text from 42 medical journals and clinical trials in the area of oncology research, and 1.5 million patient records to identify common causes and possible cures for different types of cancers. The power that exists inside the little bits of data that organizations collect from our purchasing behavior, our social activities and yes, our educational and career paths, has started to make waves in talent acquisition as a potential game changer.

In the talent acquisition industry, the potential of big data and access to off-the-shelf social aggregators combine through the use of customer relationship management (CRM) applications. Talent executives are increasingly taking advantage of the unique benefits of the CRM as a platform to track the history and data points of its potential applicants in the form of finely tuned, talent pipelines. The promise and the problem lies within its execution as a solution. Which is why it’s crucial for CRM and social data advocates to state unequivocally, that it’s not how big your data sets are, it’s how sustainable the data quality is over an extended period of time. The proper methodology to maintain the data is also equally important.

The broad term data is essentially more so about building knowledge to properly influence the decision-making process of today’s workforce and the organizations who hire them. While the data is easy enough to collect these days, it comes from not just one fire hose, but several at a time. Building a process around how that data is stored, who has access to it, and yes, how to keep it clean and easy to analyze, should not be a last resort; building the process should be the first step.

Gerry Crispin, principal and co-founder of consulting practice CareerXroads, has said, “Given the increase in recruiting complexity, the growing intensity of competition for quality candidates to fill pivotal positions and the nearly infinite access to a universe of prospects, the real challenge is asking the right questions the data might help us answer.”

Companies that place an emphasis in data by investing in an infrastructure to build processes around the collection and analysis of it will remain one step ahead of their competitors. Organizations adept at data mining will turn to a ‘knowledge discovery framework’ to predict what’s next. In short, the early bird takes the worm; data analysis can produce more detailed demographic models, emphasis on product alignment to skill sets, foster shorter time to fill at lower cost with greater in-house reliability. Combined, these advantages can inevitably speed the product development and sales cycles for greater profit margins.

Big data is especially relevant in the war for talent, as rivals for key skill sets and capabilities within their workforce must compete, and their quality of hires are increasingly determined by their efficient use of data to produce viable business intelligence that is actionable. Now, more than ever before, talent acquisition professionals can finely tune and refresh data to more efficiently target candidates and build talent pipelines.

A few simple tweaks are critical to success. Why is this important? Because many companies already have the data they need coming in to:

• Build better competitive intelligence;

• Accurately forecast which candidate will stay and for how long;

• Determine real-time career progression;

• Create talent pipelines that assess cultural fit prior to the application process;

• Nurture candidates and students before they apply;

• Identify business market trends, mergers and acquisitions, and product alignment; and

• Bolster the candidate experience by automating relationships, building communications, and establishing alerts to ensure prospects are notified of developments in a timely and regular fashion.

But it’s the process of what you do with that data that is important.

Redesigning the Framework
What if your organization knew even five years ago that social profiles would be a portion of virtually every resume, would you carve space for that data? What if you had realized 10 years ago that 90 percent of candidates would have cell phones listed as their main number? We would have quickly realized that email addresses and mobile phone numbers have a longer shelf life than their physical and landline counterparts. Personal emails, mobile numbers, and social profile links become increasingly valuable to the recruiter who can communicate without physical boundaries.

From a talent perspective, there are new data points streaming in every day. In fact, we pay researchers, sourcers, and recruitment marketers to bring in even more. As data compiles, organizational knowledge builds processes and eventually bears fruit to recognizable best practices. The collection ultimately translates into an organization’s intellectual property (IP). Too often this fundamental realization of IP escapes the corporate talent function. A talent organization should have a process and depository to house and protect this talent knowledge library.

By building a framework around how we accumulate, collect, analyze, and make use of our data, we are functionally embedding ‘best practices’ and reinforcing positive business behaviors. Investing in a key talent strategy solution such as a CRM is entirely dependent on the methodology in place.

Here are some tweaks that can easily be made to your organizational framework:
Incomplete records. If you only fix one thing, let this be it. Lack of customized data fields and, worse still—empty ones—obstruct the capabilities of filters and search results, and limit the modern CRM’s potential to produce actionable information. Common missing fields include mobile phone number, social media specific URL, and job title. Limiting the parameters for how to both filter and segment data will inevitably lead to false exclusions or inclusions in your CRM’s search results.

Incorrect records. Specific fields such as city, state, country, and regions are especially critical to geo-specific job openings. Build a data input and quality process that your corporate talent organization agrees to adhere to. Above all, hold team members accountable with regular audit reports to measure CRM productivity and data quality to ensure lead generation records are accurate—and credible to its users. Successful adoption of the CRM model is fundamentally a by-product of how credible and viable data accuracy is.

Competitive intelligence. Where is your talent audience? Not just the ones that lasted and became internal stars, but the ones who gave up after three months and walked away. If you are not keeping track of where your employees and applicants come from and keep that record alive with information about how they fared, you are doing your company a disservice. With today’s social records, it’s simple to keep track of the next job in the line and this—along with company specific job titles—can assist in workforce planning in a big way. A few examples of critical questions that big data analyses holds great potential to answer:

• What universities and trade schools do your competitors invest resources?

• What are the most common, identifiable patterns that reflect “sources of hire” among key competitors? Who do they hire from and are there commonalities in job title descriptions?

• What product verticals align most appropriately to your corporate offerings, and are the skill sets involved consistent?

• How do your competitors establish quotas to measure performance?

• What are key indicators to recognitions and awards among key business functions like research and development and sales?

• What is the average length of time identified to progress from a graduate intern to a software architect or management role?

• How do “all the above” questions factor in your internal organization’s best practices and have you created a platform as a depository to archive these critical data inputs? Is the talent knowledge library accessible in real-time?

• How do “all the above” compare to your own, internal talent acquisition functions in determining ‘source of hire’, and how can that knowledge translate into actionable improvements in time-to-fill and cost-per-hire?

Human issues. Human error becomes less of an issue when you put a solid protocol and the reasons behind it in play. Does the data need to be entered a certain way? By whom? Who can access and change the CRM? Address these issues in a formal policy so that when the CRM becomes useful, it can be useful enterprise wide. A clear, step-by-step process gives new hires proper training and support, and ensures that the protocol is adhered to. Here are four pillars for CRM framework:

  • Data must be usable and searchable.
  • Extraction and leverage of data must be easy.
  • Data can be migrated from multiple lead generation platforms with a single source of truism.
  • Data can be categorized, tagged, and mapped to talent for ease of segmentation.


Building CRM as a solution is about accessing key talent data that transforms the “record” into a “profile” that can be maintained and that measured. Simply stated, “futurecasting” is about managing the life span of your talent audience as a proactive, pipeline. As someone who developed its methodology and full-life cycle of implementation, it can provide incredible value to companies who invest in data that is strategic and durable. Corporate talent organizations prosper not simply by comparing the quantity of data records, but by encouraging data as composite profiles, accessing data across social platforms, and following a detailed methodology to access relevance. Talent knowledge is the all-encompassing product of any organization. Today the technologies are available, and companies that access their data, identify practices, and learn from it, are investing in their own intellectual property in order to hire the best candidates in a more proactive manner than ever deemed possible.

Dave Mendoza is a talent acquisition thought leader and speaker. He provides talent strategy roadmaps and customized innovations on behalf of leading fortune 500 companies. For additional information, see  the whitepaper, Futurecasting: How the Rise of Big Social Data is set to Transform the Business of Recruiting. He can be reached at ldavemendoza@gmail.com or http://linkd.in/dmendoza.

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