How HR Metrics & Big Data Can Transform Hiring

December 26, 2016 in HR Best Practices


If there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that data changes lives. It helps us decide on the home we want to purchase. It guides us in our decision when selecting a new and trendy restaurant during business and vacation travels.

Big data is when Pinterest anticipates and suggests new pins for me based on my past favorites, repins, or preferences. It’s when your company’s training system suggests new e-learning courses you should consider or when you see your ex-boyfriend’s face as a “suggested friend or connection” via a certain social network. Big data–and some rather creepy machine learning algorithms–are at play.

Data doesn’t only impact our personal lives, it also can transform our recruitment and hiring process, shedding light onto processes bottlenecks, and different interpretations of data we might have not considered due to the simple fact that we are too invested in the process to truly analyze our recruiting strategies.

HR Metrics or Big Data

Leveraging data, not just HR metrics in human resources, allows you to:

  • Establish patterns. Find invisible patterns. Maybe every person you hire from a competitor results in turnover of less than 90 days. Maybe the data tells you that new hires who live within a 20 mile radius respond to customer requests with a 50% faster response rate.
  • Predict the unpredictable. As practitioners, we are in the weeds of the work and often unable to see the forest through the trees. Data analysis allows us to help predict and improve turnover numbers, retention rates, cost per hire, quality of hire, and other HR metrics in a way that we might not be seeing.
  • Decrease uncertainty. Uncertainty kills business. Uncertainty combined with a fundamental understanding of how HR and recruiting impact an organization are what has driven the recent cover story by Harvard Business Review suggesting we “blow up HR.” These myths need to be busted, and that starts with talking the language of our business leaders as well as being assertive and creative in how we approach the challenges of hiring and recruiting.

Big data is just like that looming pile of mail that you know you have to sort through, but avoid at all costs. It’s like organizing my master bedroom closet–a disaster and a mess so big that I don’t know where to start. I’m overwhelmed and angry at myself for letting it get that way, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day to attack such a large task. I also know that once I get invested in organizing and making sense of my closet that I won’t stop. Tackling that project will then lead to other projects, and I’ll be more organized and productive because of it. It’s just that getting there is so involved and time consuming.

Big data is big business. Business leaders are investing a great deal of money, time, and effort into predictive data and analytics when it comes to customer insights, improving manufacturing processes, and research–so why is it not the CEO’s biggest concern at their company? Big data is perfect for analyzing and improving the hiring and recruitment process at your company.

Why HR Metrics Aren’t Really Big Data

Technically, HR and recruitment data isn’t really big data. As first discussed by Gartner researcher Doug Laney in 2001, three things historically make big data big data: 1) velocity, 2) variety, and 3) volume. Otherwise, it is just a spreadsheet…

…Whether it’s big data or small data, doesn’t make a difference to me. HR and recruitment teams can take advantage of the data you already have on hand, which could allow you to truly move beyond reactive recruiting and into proactively building relationships and sourcing candidates weeks or months before the position is actually being hired for. You could cut down on recruiting expenses, lost productivity, employee stress, and sales losses due to job openings. This is what big data can do for HR and recruiting.

Use Kinsa Group’s Data to Your Advantage

Kinsa Group recruiters use data from our 30+ years in recruiting to help clients acquire the leaders, innovators and experts your organization needs – faster, simpler and more cost-effectively. Contact us today and we’ll begin searching our comprehensive database of over 115,000 candidates as your first step.

The content of this blog originally appeared in the December, 2016 edition of ABR Employment Services e-newsletter,  HR Insights. It was written by Jessica Miller-Merrell, author, speaker, and human resources professional with a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media.