Walk Softly but Speak With Big Data

This article was originally published here

By Peter Weddle for BioSpace.com

Let’s be honest. Hiring managers are not our customers. At best, they are our allies, and at worst, they are our enemies. They hold the power to help or hinder our day-to-day work. But, our customers – the people who determine whether or not we’re successful – are another group altogether.

Recruiters have a fiduciary responsibility to their employers. Wikipedia defines fiduciary as “Involving trust, esp. with regard to the relationship between a trustee and a beneficiary.” In other words, recruiters are entrusted by the organization with the responsibility for talent acquisition.

While that responsibility is met at the tactical level by filling openings identified by hiring managers, the responsibility itself is a strategic imperative for the organization. What does that mean practically? Providing excellent customer service to hiring managers is essential but not sufficient for our success. We must also provide the same level of service to the c-suite. We must fill openings for hiring managers and fill in the blanks for executives. We must provide talent to the front lines of our employer’s organization and information about our efforts to do so to its leaders.

Little Data vs. Big Data

Big Data is an old idea that is enjoying a renaissance. Organizations have used data in their decision-making since the early years of the 20th century when Frederick Taylor laid out the principles of “scientific management.” What’s different now is our ability to collect far more data that is far more detailed than ever before and to do so far more quickly.

In effect, big data enables us to have a big impact on the organization’s performance. There are fewer unknowns and more people in the know. We have the information we need to optimize AND confirm performance. We have the clarity we need to remediate shortcomings efficiently AND to recognize excellence appropriately.

While big data is now being deployed aggressively in other functional areas of the enterprise, however, its introduction in recruitment is best described as “little data.” It’s been focused on making the hiring manager happy. So, we collect and report data on time-to-fill, applicants-per-opening, and (when we can agree on the definition) quality of hire. We keep the hiring manager informed and, all too often, the c-suite in the dark.

Recruit Tactically, but Think Strategically

The justification for this uniocular approach has been the longstanding indifference toward recruitment in the c-suite. That myopia, however, is now being jettisoned. More and more CEOs, COOs and CFOs are now painfully aware of the importance of talent acquisition not only to the organization’s performance but to their own, as well.

That shift in perspective creates a window of opportunity for recruiters. By recruiting tactically, but thinking strategically, they can ensure that hiring managers have their openings filled and that executives have a full understanding of the recruiting team’s contribution.

What data will enable executives to gain such insight? The best approach is a combination of strategic metrics which both educate AND inform them. These might include:

• Cost per hire by source: the direct and indirect (e.g., recruiter time, administrative overhead) cost of hires made from each sourcing channel (e.g., recruitment advertising, data mining on social media sites). This metric educates the c-suite on the range of sources the recruiting team is using to acquire talent for the enterprise and demonstrates that it is monitoring the organization’s return on investment in their sourcing and recruiting activities.

• Time to fill by position title: the time in days required to fill position openings in a select subset of the enterprise’s most important occupations. This metric educates the c-suite on the variations in time to fill among different demographics and thus enhances their understanding of talent supply and demand. Over time, it also can illustrate improvements made by the recruiting team through revised strategies and practices that improve productivity.


• Requisitions per recruiter per month: the average number of open positions supported each month by members of the recruiting team. This metric helps the c-suite appreciate the workload that is being assigned to the recruiting team and thus better understand when and why additional staff investments may be necessary. In addition, it will also underscore the contribution being made by recruiters to the enterprise’s mission and success.

Big data won’t solve every challenge facing recruiters, but if used strategically, it will enhance both the perception and reality of their contribution and, as a result, their standing and security in the enterprise.

Thanks for reading, Peter Visit me at Weddles.com

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About the Author

Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream, The Success Matrix: Wisdom from the Web on How to Get Hired & Not Be Fired, WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet, The Career Activist Republic, and The Career Fitness Workbook: How to Find, Win & Hold Onto the Job of Your Dreams. Get them at Amazon.com and www.Weddles.com today.

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