How big data is changing the HR space

03 Aug 2021 by Stuart Hunter

Automation and data-capture are elements of just about everything we do these days. Our online shopping habits are tracked and payment information pre-filled, we receive targeted ads news and social media posts based on our browser history, and we inadvertently share the ins-and-outs of our daily lives with AI systems like Alexa and Siri. The result? A milieu of data swirling around the airwaves – about 2.5 quintillion bytes every day.

How big data is changing the HR space

Many organisations are using this information to sell us more stuff and make more money, but the use of big data isn’t always so self-serving. In recruitment, it can be a powerful tool to identify the best candidates and democratise the hiring process.


The benefits of big data for recruitment and HR


‘Intelligent recruiting’ is about more than just scanning resumes for keywords and searching candidates on social media. It’s about developing a general picture of a person based on the information they publicly share. This means on top of their work history, network and hireable skills, recruiters can also get a sense of the applicant’s character. Assessing cultural fit is an important part of the hiring process, so screening a candidate’s hobbies and interests before the first interview may help filter out applicants whose values may not align. For example, if an applicant’s social media profile demonstrates excessive drinking and destructive behaviour, they may not be the best fit as a sobriety counsellor.


Democratising data


When it comes to “free” services, it’s often said that if there is no product, you are the product. The price you pay is your personal information, but this exchange of data can be mutually beneficial. Free platforms such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Seek give employees, employers and potential candidates access to valuable information that would otherwise be off limits.


Current employees can access salary information and provide public feedback about their organisation. Candidates can read reviews about a company from previous employees. And recruiters can access employment history, ‘endorsed skills’ and gauge the suitability of a potential candidate all without paying a cent. This process has led to a more open job market where prospects have access to roles that may have previously been reserved for private networks or social circles.


It’s one thing to have access to all this data but another thing entirely to harness it for a purpose. Intelligent recruitment hinges on continuously analysing that data you have access to and adapting your recruitment strategy accordingly.


Reaching more targeted prospects


A lot of recruiters are looking beyond the usual platforms and seeking out candidates where they spend their free time – scrolling through social media, reading blogs and listening to music or podcasts. For example, the data captured by streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music can inform a recruitment agency on what potential candidates are listening to, when and for how long. They can then place an ad within a relevant podcast and reach an engaged audience of possible candidates. Rather than casting out a huge net and hoping to catch a few prospects, big data allows recruiters to identify and speak directly to a targeted audience, improving the chances of finding the right fit.


Reducing time and cost per hire


When recruiters and hiring managers use data mining tools, it can dramatically reduce the time it takes to find good talent and time is money. CRM and ATS systems are great for storing candidate information, and referencing tools such as Referoo can speed up the process of verifying a candidate’s skills and qualifications. When both are used in unison with data analytics, the results are seriously impressive.


The quicker recruiters can do their due diligence and identify the right candidate, the quicker they can place candidates into roles. This results in higher client satisfaction and a better experience for the candidate. And for recruiters, automated hiring processes can minimise the time and resources it takes to find the right fit.


Mitigating risk


You’d rather learn from someone else’s mistakes than make your own, right? Intelligent recruitment allows us to track trends and predict outcomes based on historical data. We covered how detrimental (and costly) it can be to hire the wrong person in a previous blog. The dual application of data analysis and online referencing tools such as Referoo reduce the level risk associated with hiring the wrong person based on false information. 


This is largely made possible through partnerships such as the one Referoo has established with Australia Post. When a candidate puts forward their referees, they must confirm their identity through Digital ID™ – a secure, instant background check. This makes it nearly impossible for candidates to supply fraudulent references. For example, if a candidate puts forward a close friend as a reference, positioning them as a previous employer, the data on their social media platform will soon identify the connection and flag the reference as suspicious.


It’s clear that data mining and analytics are extremely useful tools in the recruiting process, however, they should not be solely relied upon to make a final hiring decision. Big data should be used to enhance human recruiting efforts, not supersede them.