Why is Data Driven Recruitment disconnected from Recruiters?

January 30, 2023

With the rise of data capture and manipulation across businesses over the past decades, the emergence of data technologies that can bring disparate data sources together, and the arrival of technologies that allow processing of vast quantities of data, there has been an appreciation of the huge value that data and insights bring to an organization. From better strategic decisions to operational excellence, to customer behavior predictions, more and more companies are becoming data led. 

So, it is no surprise that Talent Acquisition is also seeking to be data driven. It could be argued of course that recruitment has been data driven for years. Data driven recruitment was in the guise of KPIs – Time to Hire, Cost per hire, Quality of Hire, Funnel metrics, ratios, sourcing channel effectiveness, the list goes on. And overall, this set of data provides insight into the recruitment process and helps Talent Leaders understand the effectiveness of the recruitment process they have designed and signals to them the process steps that need attention. 

And of course, for those companies spending large budgets on job advertising, whether through job boards and social media, there are metrics that measure the effectiveness of advertising spend and best performing channels.  

More recently, talent intelligence has been layered into the mix – a more macro level set of data that includes labor market data, skills availability etc. that helps executives make workforce planning decisions. 

It’s all getting complicated.  

But in truth, most recruiters are apprehensive about using data, because it’s complicated. 

There is a recognition that recruiters can be overwhelmed by data, and there are many eBooks and Guides published that attempt to provide simple frameworks for recruiters to follow. Many of these guides and eBooks are complex, 3 Steps to become a Talent Advisor, and 50 pages of what you need to do to get there.  

However, what does being data driven actually mean to a recruiter?  It means being able to connect recruiters with a simplified set of data and insights that helps them be better at what they do day to day. Data complexity simplified into small, consumable, digestible nuggets of knowledge with the right context that let them make better decisions. 

The Data Driven Recruiter Manifesto 


In 2013, Brendan Browne wrote what could be considered the Data Driven Recruiter manifesto outlining 3 principles that recruiters themselves should follow in order to be data driven. 

  • Know your market 
  • Use your knowledge to set expectations with your hiring manager 
  • Let your knowledge help your business partners plan for the future 

These principles are underpinned by a simple set of data that recruiters need to be better recruiters. It removes all the complexity of recruitment process data (which is typically outside the sphere of influence of an individual recruiter) and helps recruiters understand how to be better. 

Know your market 


The first thing Browne recommends is to understand more about the talent you are looking for – how much talent is out there with the skill and years of experience you’re looking for in the locations that you’re targeting.  

Next, recruiters should discover who else is hiring for a similar profile in the locations that interest you. Understanding the level of competition will help you understand how complex this hiring project might be.  

And those 2 data points are the first principles for a recruiter to be data driven. If a recruiter can master being able to gather that data to understand their market, then they’re on a path to becoming more knowledgeable and ultimately more successful in the role. 

Setting expectations and planning for the future 


Knowing both the availability of the skill you’re looking for and the demand for that skill helps set expectations for everyone – hiring managers, talent leaders etc. It provides transparency and gives a baseline of understanding that everyone collaborates on.  

Educating your stakeholders on the size of the talent pool and the demand for that talent based on the profile of hire being sought, helps recruiters have more informed and meaningful conversations. If the talent pool is too tight, like for some technical roles, can we adjust the requirements and remove some constraints in order to widen it. What does this new profile of hire now mean, does it impact the core responsibilities of the position? If the talent pool remains small, is relocation an option, or remote, or even a new location? 

If the competition is high, do we need to adjust the resourcing plan to allow for the likelihood of a longer process? And what impact there might be on the team without this new hire and how it can be managed. 

Educating stakeholders with data breaks down barriers, builds credibility, and fosters collaboration and problem solving. It helps recruiters directly influence their day-to-day and their decision choices. 

Recruiters who use data to know their market also have the opportunity to assist their organization plan for the future. As conversations begin on workforce planning, recruiters can bring their talent pool data into the discussion and be pro-active on building future talent pipelines that allow the organization to react when the time comes 

Connect recruiters with knowledge, not data 


However, as straightforward as this appears, there remains one challenge: Recruiters overall are forever time pressed. Their remit is always overflowing – interviewing, coordinating, briefing, sourcing, managing offers and candidate experience.  It can be difficult for recruiters to create space to become data driven.  

Yet, the benefits of being data driven are high, so it remains important that talent leaders find ways to connect their recruiters with the knowledge they need.  

Rather than require each recruiter to have responsibility for collecting the data they need, some Talent Leaders can invest in specialists on their team who provide the data to the recruiters when they need it. Other Talent Leaders invest in automating the collection of the data and create a repository of knowledge that the recruiter can tap into when they need it.  

A solution such as should also be considered as it automatically creates the knowledge recruiters need and makes that knowledge easily accessible to recruiters in their flow of work. 

Regardless of the route taken, Talent Leaders who can support their team members to master knowing their market will build a team that is more knowledgeable, more productive, more successful, more influential, and more collaborative. 

Who wouldn’t want that! 

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