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Recruiting in the Age of Data

Recruiting in the Age of Data

The average number of social media account per internet user worldwide is 7.6.

The important word here is “worldwide”. This means that the number is much, much higher in countries like Germany, the United States, Singapore or the UK.

And yet, how many social media profiles do recruiters look at when vetting candidates? How many do they share with hiring managers?

Most of the time, the main data point used to move a candidate forward is their resume. But that’s only a fraction of their profile, and not nearly enough to make an informed recruiting decision.

How consumer marketers use data for better targeting

Consumer and B2B - business to business - marketers have found a lot of different ways to collect and use publicly available data. They use social media profiles, sign up forms, newsletters, website activity, free wifi sign-ups in retail locations, and a myriad of other channels.

The data is collected, aggregated, analyzed, and then used in a few different ways:

  1. To predict what customers are likely to buy a certain product
  2. To tailor marketing campaigns to specific segments of the population
  3. To improve customer experience without going through surveys
  4. To develop new services and products that customers might be interested in

A great example of impressive data use is Amazon. They collect massive amounts of behavioral information, like how much time you spend on a page, or what shows you watch on prime video, as well as account information, like your name or your address.

That data is then used to show you recommendations of products, or to predict sales and shorten shipping times. You can imagine how much value that creates for the company: reducing shipping costs, increasing sales, improving the customer experience… even adjusting prices!

Another old-but-gold example of amazing marketing personalization is Target. Their infamous “pregnancy score” uses buying habits of customers to figure out when they are expecting a baby, so they can target them with marketing campaigns around baby products.

Obviously, we aren’t all Amazon or Target, with astronomical amounts of data at our fingertips. Still, most marketing teams manage to do amazing things with the data they have, with a bit of good planning and the right tools and skill set.

What the age of data means for recruiters

We’ve talked a lot about some of the essential building blocks of proactive recruiting, like nurture campaign, scoring candidates, building talent pools, etc. Imagine trying to do all of these things based only on the basic information found in resumes. Not really worth it, is it?

The good news is that you don’t have to work within those limits. CRMs like Beamery can collect candidate data automatically, and enrich their profiles with data points from many different social sites. The information is available, and more importantly, really easy to use.


This wealth of data has an impact on hiring on many levels:

  • Recruiters can be more relevant and more targeted in their recruitment marketing campaigns.
  • A lot of the manual recruiting work can be automated based on set criteria using the candidate data, letting recruiters focus on the added-value work like identifying quality candidates.
  • None of that data has to be updated manually. Your CRM and recruitment marketing platform can do that automatically.
  • The data collected can be used to create new value, like drawing insights about candidates, identifying their needs and preferences, and improving their experience.

With the right tools and a good recruitment marketing person on your team, you can dramatically change the way you hire. You might not be able to achieve quite the level of eerie personalization of the P&Gs and Unilevers of the world, but you’ll know who would like to see more content from you, or when it’s time to send someone an event invite, for example.

The technology that marketers use can be used by recruiters as well- it really just depends on how much sophistication you think is valuable for you. A lot of the time, you can achieve amazing results with just a few improvements.

For example, you can get a much better response from candidates just by adding a few personal details in your email campaigns, or by using candidates’ behavior on your website to trigger a targeted action.

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The ethics of using candidate data

This is all great news for recruiters, of course, but the thing with candidate -and customer- data, is that there’s a thin line between creating a better candidate experience and a win-win situation, and creepily invading people’s privacy.

Besides, privacy is not the only issue with using candidate data for recruiting purposes. In January 2016, The Journal of Management published a study on how social media can substantially impact hiring behavior.

Unsurprisingly, it confirmed that we all have a bunch of unconscious biases going on when we evaluate social media profiles. That can go from negatively impacting candidates who don’t have enough details on their facebook pages, to involuntarily judging them on things that have no relationship with the job they’re applying for.

If there is no scientific -and impartial- way of using social media data to evaluate candidates, then our personal preferences will play into the selection process, no matter how careful we are. It’s a deeply human thing, and really, really hard to correct.

Marketing automation can help with that, by taking part of the vetting process out of human hands. For example, candidates who have a specific combination of qualifications, hobbies, skills, and languages could be automatically qualified and handed over to a recruiter.

It also makes it easier to keep track of compliance, which is pretty helpful, given that legislation is catching up to the issues related to collecting and using candidate data (GDPR, anyone?).

Just because information is public doesn’t mean it can be used indiscriminately, so make sure that both your tools and your processes are compliant, and ask candidates for consent when you need to.

The amount of data that we publicly share about ourselves online is staggering: dozens of apps and profiles on social media, forums, comments, resumes, forms... and yet, how much of that data do you use for every candidate you identify?

Data enrichment can bring a lot of value to the hiring process, and help companies and candidates who match them meet faster. As long as we use it right, it will be a source of value for everyone involved. Exciting times ahead.

State of Talent Engagement 2019 report

The results of the State of Talent Engagement 2019 survey are in! You can download the full report here for statistics and data on how companies plan to engage with talent in 2019.

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