Big Data & Technology: How It Has Totally Changed Recruiting and HR

Photo illustration by

Over the past three decades, HR technology has made amazing improvements – moving from paper to predictive analytics.

These advancements have enabled recruiters to source talent faster and smarter, which in turn, helps them achieve the organization’s business objectives.

With the help of the latest innovations in technology, talent acquisition professionals can truly contribute to a company’s profitability by proactively creating the talent pipelines required to meet critical hiring needs.

Game changers: the PC and the Internet

The first generation of recruiters or “headhunters” maintained a Rolodex containing the names of potential candidates and relied on print publications to get the word out about open positions. They also collected resumes at trade shows and purchased attendee lists to locate talent with particular skill sets.

Back in those “dark ages,” candidates snail-mailed typewritten resumes in response to help wanted ads. One early innovation, a new machine called the “fax,” enabled applicants to digitally send cover letters and resumes directly to employers. Another technological improvement in recruiting during this time was the ability for employers to view applicants through resumes that had been scanned into a database.

But the real game-changers in the field of human resources were the desktop computer and the advent of the Internet.

The Internet democratized recruiting. Job seekers could see directly into an organization and apply for jobs online.

Social media applications like LinkedIn made it easier to put not only active job seekers but also the elusive passive job seekers into the talent pipeline. Online job boards have made it easier to find specific talent, and niche sites allow even further targeting. New job search apps have taken recruiting to a new level of mobility.

Predictive technology in recruiting

The best part of these improvements — from an organizational standpoint — are the applications for strategic talent acquisition. The latest innovation, “big data” allows talent acquisition teams to utilize predictive technology to identify critical talent and source more strategically.

Big data’s marketing metrics provide insight on the effectiveness of current recruitment marketing campaigns. If these metrics underperform compared to the forecasted baseline, the talent acquisition team is able to investigate and address lack of candidate response in real-time.

Comparative analytics and benchmarking enable the talent acquisition team to further understand how their campaign is faring compared to similar recruitment marketing efforts running at the same time. Even if the team is meeting the forecasted baselines, it is important to know if the competition is outperforming in their efforts to reach the same talent pool.

Big data helps HR map out their talent needs in alignment with the company’s upcoming business plan by providing direction on the most effective online job sites that should be engaged leading to a “smarter” spend for recruitment campaigns. Those who bring human capital analytics into the equation will have a seat at the table for significant business discussions.

Accessing the power of big data

To access the power of big data, examine your internal data: look at the previous time to fill, cost per hire, sources of hire, attrition rates, and performance scores for the positions that are critical to fill in the upcoming hiring year.

Review the data and metrics to determine the most cost-effective sources and best candidate flow that led to the most hires; especially the hires that stayed employed with the company at least a year and were meeting or exceeding their performance goals.

Article Continues Below

You should also review the number of unique IP addresses that visited your job/employer site. Capture which websites they came to you from, which pages were most visited on your site, how long candidates spent on those pages, which pages they last visited before they left, etc.

It is also important to compare the number of candidates you received from your job board advertising against the number of fully completed applications you receive to determine your candidate drop-off rate.

The other components of big data analysis include job board metrics, web traffic data, government labor data, social data, and data from outsourced vendors. By blending this information, you can capture key metrics about your company – i.e. how often your company is searched for, how often your jobs are viewed, how often they are clicked on, etc.

What does the future hold? Companies that take advantage of the latest HR technology will be able to glean keen insights into their sourcing and hiring strategies.

Technology and Strategic Talent Acquisition

At its core, the real value of big data technology lies in the answers it can provide, the insights that can be derived and its ability to enable business users to ask new kinds of questions that could not previously have been answered. Big Data only achieves its full potential when this information is analyzed, interpreted, reported and put to use by an organization’s people. In this respect, the promise of big data could easily be squandered if HR doesn’t help to lead the charge, especially where talent acquisition is concerned.

The time has come for HR to raise its profile as a strategic business partner by plugging into big data metrics and lifting talent acquisition strategies to a new level of success. Talent acquisition touches every part of the organization. Nothing else is as critical to the organization’s ability to achieve business objectives.

With help from the right external partners, HR can jump-start their organizations’ big data efforts, make decisions that are exponentially more evidence-based, and build strategic business advantages that will empower the entire organization.

This was originally published on eQuests’ Floating Point blog

David Bernstein is the head of eQuest’s new Big Data for HR/Predictive Analytics Division, which enables organizations to make evidence-based decisions about their recruiting and hiring strategy. He writes and speaks regularly on how data analytics can predict future behavioral patterns of candidates and create a competitive advantage in candidate sourcing.


3 Comments on “Big Data & Technology: How It Has Totally Changed Recruiting and HR

  1. Great post! Big Data certainly has advantages. However it is also important to judge a candidate on more than just statistics. Video resumes are a great way to measure a candidates personality and the things you don’t see on paper.

  2. SparkHire – Thanks for taking the time to reply. Quick clarification… Agreed, you cannot know anything about the candidate’s skills, experience level, or job fit based on the Big Data I am referring to. In this case, I am referring to using Big Data to accurately forecast the effectiveness of your Recruitment Marketing campaigns. Micro-targeting vs. the more traditional “post-and-spray/post-and-pray” broadcasting approach drives smarter marketing spend and more rapid pipeline development. I hope you would agree that both of these aspects are critical to the success of a talent acquisition cycle. Feel free to contact me at if you would to discuss this further.


  3. Nice thought, candidate that is going to recruited will be more technical then before. Not only business administration will work here, he should be trained with IT skills and new technologies. Without all these qualities i don’t think any company will even think to hire any HR person.DB Comp It Support

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *