Reduce Complexity to Achieve Data-Driven Hiring

Technology was supposed to make hiring simple. In practice, it may have done the opposite. We now have an excessive patchwork of tools, tabs, spreadsheets, and systems.

An infinite number of resumes online from an increasingly transient workforce has removed all barriers to entry.

Executives in every line of business lack access to the most basic insights about their workforce: Where are my highest quality hires coming from? What is our expected employee tenure, and what attrition can we expect? How are we tracking to our headcount plan?

At the same time, HR analyst Josh Bersin says that the average HR department has grown to use 11 systems of record, all with their own siloed data.

Companies don’t have a single view of a candidate or have access to all the data about that candidate to make strategic decisions overall about hiring strategies for the company.

You have no idea what kind of candidates turn into great employees. The data on candidates who become employees is disjointed. There’s no view of the full candidate lifecycle.

Let’s Capture the Data at First Engagement

To rethink talent data, let’s consider what happens when you go to a university career fair. Most students leave their email addresses and walk off with your pens and keychains. Some join your internship program. A few eventually join you full-time. You invest in that career fair. But you probably fail to capture and nurture 80 percent of those relationships. But what if you need those same people a few months or a few years down the road?

The odds of reconnecting are low because you didn’t view them as a future talent pool. Those new graduates could earn advanced degrees, learn skills at other great companies, and go on to become more valuable than they were as college seniors.

As for the students you do hire, they may or may not thrive at your company. But now that they’ve been transported from your recruitment platform to one of those 11 HR systems, you have lost visibility.

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In other words, you’ve lost most of the relationships you spent time and money to acquire. And, you’ve lost the ability to see how the new hires panned out.

By capturing those engagements and decisions in a single talent database, a company could be building one of its most valuable assets for success. It would not only help you have more meaningful engagements but serve as a source of rediscovery of candidates and also be able to help make data-driven hiring decisions.

What I’m envisioning here is one of two things. Either finding one software vendor to handle everything from the potential employee/CRM part of hiring all the way through employment to alumni … or … really and truly integrating all your systems (easier said than done, I know) seamlessly to be able to track one person really well through their journey.

The Power of Bringing Together HR and Talent Data

What we know about great hires is mostly anecdotal, biased, and snapshotted from random moments. We have an opportunity to build a much richer connected view of the entire journey of a candidate to employee. I propose five essential metrics that could come from unifying the data between talent and HR systems:

  1. Speed. There’s something special in looking at time to fill as it measures how healthy your pipeline is. It can also demonstrate the value of how nurturing new relationships over months or even years (i.e., with career-fair students) can lead to quick hiring at strategic moments.
  2. Cost margin. Some think of this only in terms of the cost of recruiting resources. However, what may be more important is cost margin: what you paid to acquire an employee in relation to what they’re compensated over time.
  3. Estimated pipeline value. At any given time, the people in your database have a forecasted value based on their historical conversion rate and pipeline quality and speed.
  4. Engagement. How interested your candidates are based on brand touch points, communications they open, click, and respond to, and hiring manager interactions. It also helps with estimating quality.
  5. Quality. It’s the toughest datapoint and the one that blends information from talent and HR systems. A candidate signals quality through her resume, cover letters, and assessments (e.g., a coding test). She illustrates quality in interviews. And then, her performance reviews, metrics, and accolades yet again augment her quality. The length of time she stays with your company is also a measure of quality. A single quality metric — perhaps derived from multiple sources — is essential if past hiring decisions are to inform our future decisions. 

Your company’s iconic innovations, future success, and unknown opportunities depend on securing the right talent. If you know which candidates turn into great employees, you can hire them quickly, before competitors spot their potential.

Sarah Nahm is CEO and cofounder of Lever. She steers Lever’s design-driven approach and leads the company's mission to put talent and teams at the center of organizations. Prior to Lever, she worked at Google on initiatives as diverse as leading the growth of the Chrome browser from launch to over 150M active users, to speech writing for Marissa Mayer. A self-taught programmer, she received her B.S. in engineering and product design from Stanford University, where she occasionally returns to coach design students at Stanford’s d.school.
 

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