Futurecasting: Map, standardize, & segment your talent organisation’s data IP

… the essential ingredients of a strategic roadmap is within its data output. It must be equipped with the means to be easily scalable, distributable throughout the organisation, and can easily be migrated without dependency on any one given vendor technology”

By Dave Mendoza

Multi-award-winning talent acquisition thought leader and global speaker

Big data, clean data, social data. If you work in talent acquisition, you’ve heard these terms a lot lately. Leaders in the recruiting industry are starting to measure the impact the onslaught of data will have on everything: from how we source, to how we screen and protect competitive intelligence, essentially, the entire talent acquisition and management lifecycle. However, many are frustrated by the lack of common terminology, while others have yet to define just what Big Data is (within talent acquisition)…

So what is everyone talking about when they say “big data”? Big data is a collection of information so large and complicated that it becomes awkward to process using traditional means. John Sumser recently quoted Gartner in his article “Really, Big Data Isn’t Analytics”:

  • Increasing volume (amount of data) 
    Generally speaking, the first big data problem is dealing with the amount of data. The important point about the volume of data is that it’s bigger than current toolsets can handle.
  • Velocity (speed of data in/out)
    Historically, data has been processed when possible, not in real time. Companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter (and the rest of the high volume, real time data processors) are perfecting the art of handling information as it emerges.
  • Variety (range of data types, sources)
    In some ways, this is the biggest piece of the puzzle. Big data is a way to make novel correlations that create insight that wasn’t before possible by integrating disparate (and what used to be seen as unrelated) data sets.

For recruiters this can include: candidate profiles, competitor practices, talent pipelines, information gathered from social media, ATS data, CRM data, regional and demographic data (this list goes on for awhile). In talent acquisition, the variety comes from having lots of users and lots of different input, collection and accumulation styles.

Finding a way to standardise process across all avenues and automate what we can, simply makes it easier for sourcers, recruiters and HR professionals to make sense of the data we’ve been collecting for years. The potential of using data to identify industry patterns and trends is being realised, increasing the value of properly processed and stored data.

Often recruiters are working with candidate relationship management platforms (CRMs), social media funnels from at least one social network (often many more), the applicant tracking system or HRIS. I submit that together, these technologies can be a compass pointing straight toward relevant talent for the future. The Futurecasting methodology I’ve developed has taken the guess work out of calibrating that compass.

Enhancements and modifications to your data management can lead your company straight to its talent audience, showing talent acquisition executives where and how your target market spends its time. In addition, you can create a data shadow for your company’s future workers.

These seven steps are the core of Futurecasting:

1. Map the organisation’s process:

Go step-by-step through the whole cycle of your recruiting process, starting with sourcing. The first step in creating a fully functional system is becoming aware of current practices. From the first contact to on-boarding, map out how your team does everything, particularly when someone comes into contact with data. The purpose of this step is to find the flaws, holes and redundancies in your system.

Who inputs the data? Is it automated? Who has access to the data? Where does this data go from here? At what point will someone need to come back to retrieve this data?

2. Standardise the organisation’s process:

Create a clearly defined new process. Formulate and document a consistent way to work through the lifecycle of each and every candidate. This initiative should be documented and shared as a mandatory process. This step won’t help if everyone continues to do things their own way. By starting consistent practices, you cut down on redundancies, inefficiencies and data storage mistakes.

For instance, default and customisable fields for data entry can turn into a mess of untraceable information if everyone is doing their own thing. Make sure that complete and incomplete files are defined and labelled. And while you’re at it, complete them! Things as simple as dashes and commas can render data useless. Your organisation pays to gather and store that data, so when something as minor as spaces in a phone number make it unusable you are losing money.

Be sure to share consistent terminology for job titles, IDs and tags. Remember that if your system can’t read a data set, it doesn’t include it in search results.

3. Add social data:

It’s not enough to note that a candidate has a LinkedIn profile. Many of the systems that you’re probably using don’t really make this possible straight out of the box; however there are always modifications to improve these systems. Customise fields specifically for social media. Even if you can’t create a clickable link, you can always enter the URL into the customised field. By adding these links to each and every profile, you have expanded your candidate profile by leaps and bounds and made it easily accessible to sourcers in the future.

Social data is far more evergreen than much of the data that talent acquisition has used in the past. While you might go through several email addresses or mobile numbers, you’re less likely to get rid of a LinkedIn profile or Twitter handle. Candidates are the same. Begin collecting this data now before it’s standard protocol and you lay the groundwork for best practices later.

4. Segment the organisation’s data:

On your run of the mill systems, segmentation is easy enough, but as you grow with your system and master the available functionality, you will find ways to filter and create rules that take segmentation to a whole new level. The relatively new addition of URLs from social media sites (this is not standard on all CRM or ATS as of this writing), when entered properly and consistently can be segmented to create lists; Twitter lists that allow you to distribute jobs to highly targeted candidates, LinkedIn lists that can expand candidate profiles and give you access to “sub-nodes” of other qualified candidates, SMS and Facebook lists that allow you to compile a living “data shadow” for multiple candidates, with one push of a button.

5. Reinforce competitive intelligence as a workflow process:

Each company has different ways of distinguishing positions, titles and awards. How are you supposed to search for them if they aren’t streamlined within your system? Again, creating a consistent and communicated list of job titles will tidy up your data, and make life a whole lot easier. Also, consider using tags and notes for other distinguishing talents and awards. But again, this must be enterprise-wide adoption to work. Considering your competitors’ job titles, award system and compensatory framework can help when searching outside your system.

6. Re-duplicate and enforce data quality standards to your organisation’s database

Clean it up folks. This is probably the hardest one, but clean data is data that works for you. It’s a long and painstaking process, but it is worth it in the end. File by file; get rid of duplicate and inaccurate information. In this process you can determine where you have flaws in your data entry process and it will ultimately save time when you’re looking for records. In addition, information can go bad very quickly; people change numbers, addresses and names. By creating fully searchable and updated profiles, your data is now working for you.

7. Recognise the value of your talent acquisition organisation’s intellectual property:

By streamlining your process and cleaning up your data, you have added exponential, long-term value to your company’s talent roadmap. This information was paid for. If your system is outdated and unsearchable, you have wasted it. When you realize the potential of big data, you are more likely to value it. Take step 6, once you have had one talent acquisition pro identify the competitive landscape in his or her region, should that information only be accessed by that person? Of course not, they have paved a small piece of the road that can be an integral part of your talent map, but only if others in your organisation can access it and add to it.

What we’re really talking about is a way of organisation that lends itself to improving sourcing functions, planning for the future and increasing the strategic value of competitive knowledge as an all-inclusive solution. The current data management systems that most of us have in place now are disorganised, cluttered and aren’t exactly making room for even more data. In contrast, key to successful workforce planning is the data vehicle to your hiring forecast destination. A successful talent strategy is assembled within the platform of choice and the vision and processes of the strategic innovator’s roadmap. For the innovators in the talent acquisition space, and the newly converted – it’s a solution aligned to technologies that maximise the advantages of an always accessible data cloud, integrated social media and increasingly powerful APIs. There are key components that establish the foundation of any solution. The essential ingredient of a strategic roadmap is within the data dictionary and structure of its data repository. It must be equipped with the means to be easily scalable, distributable throughout the organisation, and can easily be migrated without dependency on any one given vendor technology. By supporting powerful tools with simple, human processes and a dash of technologies with ingenuity in mind, – you can turn the data game around.

Dave Mendoza is a multi-award-winning talent acquisition thought leader and global speaker. He provides talent strategy roadmaps and customized innovations on behalf of leading Fortune 500 companies, and recently wrote “Futurecasting: How the rise of Big Social Data API is set to Transform the Business of Recruiting.” For direct inquiries he can be emailed directly or through: http://www.linkedin.com/in/ldavemendoza