3 reasons to use a data-driven approach to sourcing

November 18, 2015 Vince Szymczak
the information you need to enhance efficiency and recruitment outcome 

Quite imperceptibly, we’ve entered a new era – an era of data-driven sourcing and recruitment. With big data and predictive analytics conquering more and more domains, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it has entered the recruitment world as well.

Using market intelligence for recruitment purposes started not so long ago, but judging by the number of job openings for professionals in this field and topics at industry conferences like #SOSU Europe held this September in Amsterdam, an increasing number of companies appreciate the value data adds to business and have decided to invest in it. Surprisingly, not many vendors in the market have emerged in this niche as service providers. Therefore, corporations often focus on building internal capabilities within this area.

knowledge is power
So how can companies benefit from HR market intelligence? First, it is necessary to understand what is meant by “HR market intelligence” or “talent analytics.” It is, in fact, a very broad domain that hasn’t been clearly defined because they are still developing.

In general, we can divide talent analytics into two types:

  • internal – gathering and using data about your own organization to make informed decisions about talent
  • external – gathering and using data from the market to make informed decisions about widely understood recruitment opportunities and strategies

An example of internal talent analytics is HP’s Flight Risk score described by Eric Siegel in his book, “Predictive Analytics.” By gathering and analyzing a number of data points about its employees, HP was able to predict who will quit their job with 75% certainty.

External talent analytics focuses on gathering market data and intelligence and may serve as an influencing factor in making a number of decisions such as deciding where to open a new office, what benefits to offer to attract candidates, which sourcing channels to use, which competitors are the best target for the sourcers, or simply how to speak to candidates from different countries to sell them the job and the company.

Let’s see how market intelligence can facilitate recruitment.

Reason No. 1: know where you’re going by making informed decisions and planning accordingly. Market intelligence can help plan the whole recruitment project. Knowledge about which sourcing channels to use is essential to designing the sourcing strategy well and understanding what you are doing and why. You also need to know how many candidates can be found in every sourcing channel you have on your list. If the number is not impressive, and you are dealing with volume recruitment, research alternative channels.

There is no universal recipe for what data should be taken into consideration when designing sourcing strategy and planning the recruitment project.

It may make sense to investigate what the average commuting distance for candidates is, as this may vary by country. Commuting distance will tell you in what radius from the target location should you search for candidates. This doesn’t mean you should eliminate candidates from other locations; rather, those within the target distance will be the easiest to engage. Only when you’ve exhausted this area should you expand your search further. This strategy, of course, isn’t effective for professions that require frequent relocation like those in the oil & gas industry.

It also might be useful to understand the main reasons professionals in a particular industry or country change jobs to help you better engage them. Approaching this task with an open mind and accepting that a complete list of valuable data for every project doesn’t exist are the keys to success.

Reason No. 2: take the shortcuts and improve your efficiency. Market intelligence not only helps with planning the project and designing the strategy but can also facilitate sourcing itself, showing where and how to identify candidates.

Knowing which channels candidates use to find job or present themselves to potential employers may be a game-changer as it will speed up the whole process enabling sourcer to connect with qualified candidates more quickly than competitors will. LinkedIn is a fantastic aid, but it will not work in every market and for every role. And taking into account skill shortages and the fact that sometimes the brand you are recruiting for may not be the strongest in the market, you have to play it smart. Diversifying sourcing channels may be just what you need.

Market insights gathered during conversations with candidates can also speed up the project a lot. If a candidate shares information about layoffs in his company, this may be a gateway to a talent pool that is not only suitable for the role but also more likely to be interested in new opportunities than any other random group.

Reason No. 3: are we almost there yet? Some data might not necessarily help you with identifying candidates but will help you manage the project and expectations of the stakeholders.

You should understand how many candidates with the required skillset are present at the target location. This may be particularly important in case of niche roles and bottleneck occupations. Is the hiring manager asking for extra CV’s “just to compare” even though submitted ones already qualify for the role?

It’s always good to have high standards and strive to hire the best, but sometimes managers simply don’t realize that the talent pool is exceptionally small and they cannot afford being too selective. Firstly, finding more candidates may take a lot of time, if possible at all. Secondly, candidates currently under consideration may lose interest and withdraw. Thirdly, small communities of professionals, especially in niche occupations, may communicate with each other and wonder why they and colleagues are being considered for the same position, which may damage the employer’s brand.

Sourcers with experience in the market they serve may also use the insights they already have – like typical response time from candidates. If this is long, like in Germany, this insight will help to manage client’s expectations regarding the project timeline.

  • Other examples of intelligence like that include demand data such as:
  • How strong is the demand for the skillset you are sourcing for?
  • Is everyone looking for those DevOps engineers at the moment?  
  • How will this impact the project?
  • What brands are you competing with when sourcing this talent?

Helping the hiring manager or client understand these factors and how they may influence the project will be beneficial to all parties.

beware of traps
Dealing with data is not always easy. First of all, finding all the data you are looking for can be difficult or even impossible. Secondly, it takes time to reach a conclusion. Thirdly, it is easy to be misled by data if we relied only on one or two data points because they may not show the full picture. On the other hand, it is not always clear what to look for. Nevertheless, even incomplete may provide insight, and continuing effort should be made to fill the gaps.

Talent acquisition leaders and sourcers should know the current talent landscape and stay ahead of changes in the markets. This will be give them a competitive advantage that will help them become true true partners to hiring managers. 


About the Author

Vince Szymczak

Vince is the sourcing subject matter expert of Randstad Sourceright EMEA Recruitment Delivery Centre in Budapest where he is responsible for all technological and methodological questions of sourcing and recruitment. He is identifying and creating best practices and strategies to enhance the sourcing delivery engine within a wide range of areas such as sourcing process and efficiency improvements, toolkit, knowledge sharing and defining best-in-class sourcing methodologies – hence he is always

Follow on Twitter More Content by Vince Szymczak
Previous Article
outsourcing in a complex European market
outsourcing in a complex European market

Diverse and complex, the European labor market poses many challenges to employers. No one know this more th...

No More Articles