“People Analytics” – Can robots replace the recruiters?


The recruitment industry has been largely unchanged for many years. Technology has, of course, changed the way that companies and individuals interact in the process, from online job and candidate postings with companies like Jobserve and Monster, company recruitment portals to engage with and measure preferred suppliers and online screening of candidates prior to onboarding.

However, we are now at a point where technology can really disrupt the industry through the use of Big Data. The ability to not only hire, but equally as important, retain better talent through the use of what is being called “people analytics” is now a reality. By mining the huge amounts of data that potential candidates leave, either willingly or otherwise, in their daily digital lives is allowing companies to assess the value of existing and future employees.

We won’t get into the whole privacy thing…that’s for another day.

According to Prof Peter Capelli at the Centre for Human Resources at Wharton, big data can predict successful hires better than a companies HR department.

While HR researchers have been kicking around small and simple sets of data, much of it collected decades ago, the big-data people have fresh information on hundreds of thousands of people — in some cases, millions of people — and the information includes all kinds of performance measures, attributes of the individual employers, their experience and so forth. There are a lot of new things to look at.

Now, I’m sure there are a lot of HR professionals who would argue with this! However, like all industries where technology advancements have enabled new business practices and efficiencies, recruitment is no different.

Let’s look at the evolution in one specific area, recruitment of technology professionals themselves. During the technology boom years, agencies specialising in finding talent for companies sprung up at a fast pace, armed with a collection of job board subscriptions and expense account. The game was simple….it was all about speed. How quickly could a CV hit the desk of a hiring manager.

When demand outstripped supply the question of selecting the absolute best fit candidate could often be secondary. Get someone quick…in fact, if they’ve only got 50% of the role requirements then get two!… Demand was high, margins were high and everybody was happy.

Things have changed dramatically since 2008. As demand tailed off so did margins for recruitment firms, with in-house managed services firms putting the final nail in for many new entrants.

So, now with “people analytics” in full swing, are we entering a phase where the recruitment industry will fade away completely. Of course not. For certain roles, or levels of seniority, human interaction throughout the whole process from role requirements, through search and selection is a necessity.

However, for some roles such as developers, software engineers or analysts, the use of algorithms rather than traditional routes can uncover a whole new talent pool, through techniques such as actually mining open source code. According to Dr Vivienne Ming of Gild, a specialist tech recruiter;

There are about 100 times as many qualified but un-credentialed candidates out there, at every level of ability. Organizations are creating their own blind spots, which leads to companies paying too much for their hires and to talent being squandered

Indeed, when the University of Minnesota analysed 17 studies evaluating job applicants, they actually found that human decisions were outperformed by a simple equation by at least 25%.

So, the days of the CV may be numbered. Smart companies are not waiting to advertise a role and harvest applications through their traditional channels, but are more sourcing candidates directly by casting the net into the social media waters, looking at blogs and the like. A recent survey showed that some 44% of companies looked at these platforms before hiring and candidates are now much more aware of their social media brand.

The use of people analytics continues post hire to further develop, nurture and retain talent. An example of this is actually in the world of recruitment itself where Social Talent has developed a data tool which it is testing on 2000 individuals. By analysing their daily activity, from emails, phone calls, browsing, candidate key word searching etc… it is able to build a profile of the most successful techniques and provide constructive advice through popup messages in real time.

So where does that leave the recruiters on both sides of the fence? Well, some of the smart providers are developing their own platforms to provide their customers with advanced people analytics whilst on the client side, we see the focus shifting to a smaller subset of organisational roles.

As for the traditional HR role in the talent process, we’ll leave the last word to Peter Capelli;

My bet is that the CIO offices in most big companies will soon start using all the data they have (which is virtually everything) to build models of different aspects of employee performance, because that’s where the costs are in companies and it’s also the unexamined turf in business


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Posted on : 28-07-2014 | By : john.vincent | In : Innovation

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