The art and craft of BIG Data in the battle for talent - Part Two.

The art and craft of BIG Data in the battle for talent - Part Two.

Posted on 08/06/2015 

by Eddie Barclay

If you were with me last week, I’m discussing big data and how we recruiters use it, for better or worse, to identify and communicate with passive talent.


I noted that, for recruiters, Linkedin is the biggest, general source of data (in our case CVs) around. Linkedin moves the goalposts so regularly that it’s difficult to keep up at times. Yet its success has been built on recruitment and, as I suggested last week, it wants to have its cake and eat it; seeking to move the market away from rec-cons but still take their money in the interim.  It’s a very effective strategy thus far.  But it’s not really about big data, it’s about you and me, as recruiters, sitting in front of our computer with our Premium packages and searching to get to the best candidates before our competitors do.  And in the meantime, some candidates are getting fed up with being accosted daily on Linkedin.


To be pedantic, ‘big data’ as I believe they are properly understood involves data-sets so large that a ‘normal’ (i.e. the one sitting on your desk) computer wouldn’t have the firepower to analyse them.  Instead, specific programs/algorithms are devised that mine, match and manipulate these data, narrowing the initial talent pool to individuals who, in theory, are an ideal match to your spec, then feeding this into a form that your desktop computer can access. It’s sometimes difficult to get this right, as those ‘recommendations’ from Linkedin that drop into my inbox demonstrate on a regular basis.


In the everyday business world, big data, as perceived of by recruiters, are really about how best we use technology to find CVs.   At a strategic, HR/recruitment level, technology can answer other, equally important, questions, such as,  “How do we interpret what’s on these CVs?”, “Which of our competitors are most likely to try to find and recruit my employees?”, or “Tell me about supply and demand for people with specific skills in our industry/area?’, but I suspect most of us shy away from this sort of thing, eyes glazing over as we file it in the ‘too difficult’ category.


That’s a pity, because I suspect that the future for recruitment industry is going to involve a lot more of the ‘too difficult’ category.  We need to make more effort to understand how the technology works, what it can and cannot do, and how best to use it to deliver the best candidates to clients, even those passive candidates who don’t know they want a new job until the right one is presented to them.  If someone created an app that actually did this consistently, they’d be a millionaire in weeks.


However, although I believe that recruitment will continue to go down the big data road, there is a caveat.  And that will be the subject of my final blog (next week!).



Eddie Barclay, Associate Director, Nine Twenty Technology