Here’s How Data is Really Impacting Talent Acquisition

The traditional field of HR, and more specifically, talent acquisition, has been slow to integrate the use of data collection and analysis. But according to a new report by Search Solution Group, talent acquisition firms must soon adapt to remain competitively relevant. Let’s examine the report and explore how data is impacting talent acquisition. 

April 11, 2019 – The recent influx of technological advances has buried businesses across nearly every industry. The use of data and technology is pressingly relevant to the success of modern business with terms like machine learning, automation and robots being used on a more regular basis.

Commercial giants like Blockbuster, Borders, and Toys “R” Us have all fallen from greatness, while companies that embrace technology have become leaders of their industries. Human resources, specifically talent acquisition, is by its nature foundationally traditional and consequently has been slow to adopt change.

“Companies in the executive search, contingent recruitment, and contract staffing arena have been particularly slow in their adaptation to the use and incorporation of data,” said Josh Mangum, senior director of corporate strategy at Search Solution Group, in a newly released report. “Due to the subjective human nature of human resources and the collective reluctance to change, firms have had little competitive reason to adjust.”

“However, it now appears the industry is at a precipice, forcing the competitively relevant to adapt,” he said. “With growing direct and indirect competitive pressures, the talent acquisition field demands a higher level of performance, technical aptitude, and leveraging of data. As talent acquisition evolves to incorporate the use of data, an unwillingness to adapt could quickly topple even titans of the industry.”

Efficiencies Driving Change

A landscape of inefficiencies has encumbered the development of and put talent acquisition in its current tumultuous state, said Mr. Mangum. “Low unemployment, a highly mobile ballooning workforce, the inherent risk of working on a contingent model, wide skills gap, unrefined processes and overall poor candidate experience is leading to a shift in talent acquisition processes,” he said. “In an industry traditionally dictated by gut feelings, companies are now embracing a data-based form of decision making. Improvement lies in the utilization of data and starts by taking on more profitable clients.”

“By prioritizing business partners that agree to better terms, communicate effectively, are able to clearly define roles and ultimately have a higher fill rate, the firm can gain the competitive edge over competitors bogged down by inefficiency,” Mr. Mangum said. “Prioritization leads marketing and outbound sales efforts to optimally target companies deemed as profitable partners, increasing the efficiency of efforts and lowering cost. In lowering variable costs and setting a more lean process in motion, a company’s growth can be unbound, through streamlining efforts and maximizing productivity when it comes to a recruitment firm’s most valuable resource — time”

Low Unemployment

With the employment rate at its lowest in 50 years, available talent may be scarce, but the likelihood of sourcing a competent candidate is even lower. Low available talent is also leading to a rise in underdeveloped hiring practices.

The external hiring pressures on talent acquisition have created the need for a more efficient and accurate recruitment process. The diamond in this situation is the implementation of analytical-driven decision-making processes. “360-degree surveys, new hire turnover and hiring manager feedback can be utilized to build a profile, which can then be cross-examined with a candidates’ sourcing details to create a holistic data set representative of a successful candidate,” said Mr. Mangum. “This profile must then be validated by a larger poll and with a base of measured data points. Deriving the factors central to quality-of-hire is essential to understanding why candidates are successful, and how to reach objective hiring decisions faster.”


Josh Mangum is responsible for leading Search Solution Group’s efforts to drive increased business by developing short and long term business strategies and executing marketing programs. He collaborates with the senior leadership team to strategically position the firm by conducting industry research, analyzing current trends, and evaluating company service offerings. Mr. Mangum also ensures the firm adopts new technologies, develops efficient processes and organizational structures, and implements forward-thinking strategies.


Mr. Mangum also noted that the development of a data-candidate pipeline will reduce effective cost-to-reach, lower time-to-hire, and create a more competitively viable recruitment process. “Exacting pointed data on the channels most often polled by auspicious candidates allows for a more precise utilization of budget,” he says. “A more focused, carefully-pointed effort raises conversion rates on candidate submissions, and lowers time-to-hire, as the sourcing process is sufficiently drawn. This reduces variable cost and creates a leaner, more competitive recruitment firm.”

A Highly Mobile Working Class

Recruitment firms assume the risk of employee turnover in a period of high mobility and workforce instability. In the candidate-driven job market, the workforce holds a majority of the power. “With more job openings than available talent, those currently employed have the viable option to consider other positions with less sense of urgency to make a move,” Mr. Mangum said. “While employee mobility leads to a larger client base potentially, establishing a tenure of at least 90 days has become increasingly difficult.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 20 percent of employee turnover happens within 45 days, making the decision of which candidate to submit a weighted one. “Utilizing data gathered from placements with longer than average tenures can be used to gather insight into what traits make a candidate more likely to break the 90-day threshold,” Mr. Mangum said. “The cost of restarting the sourcing process, or even the time cost of managing multiple potential candidates at a time for insurance sake, is margin-eroding.”

Related: How to Increase the Odds of a Successful Hire

Mr. Mangum said, however, that most recruitment firms are under-equipped to identify inefficiencies in the recruiting process, despite the compounding cost of lost efficiency, effectiveness, and impact. “The disregard of process data leads to the frequent placement of fickle candidates, costing the firm and the client time and resources,” he said.

The margin for error is low when placing candidates in a talent climate where 43 percent of the modern workforce plan to quit their job within two years, according to a report by Forbes. “The current talent climate is challenging the bandwidth of internal talent acquisition teams leading to an increased reliance on external search partners,” said Mr. Mangum. “With a significantly declining trend in tenure, recruitment firms and internal talent acquisition teams are under more pressure to find solutions and improve employee retention.

Recruitment firms that have been able to provide high value to their clients have been able to do so through the utilization of data. Globally, 83 percent of companies have low people-analytics maturity, leading to difficulties in the incorporation of data into the sourcing, hiring, and development process, according to a recent report by Deloitte. “High people-analytics maturity leads to a higher quality-of-hire and higher rates of satisfaction between clients and candidates for winning recruitment firms,” Mr. Mangum said.

The Weighted Assumed Risk

Twenty percent of employee turnover occurs within 45 days and more than 25 percent of new hires leave within the first 90 days of employment. These studies indicate that one of every five filled positions will need to be refilled within 90 days. “However, superior firms have found ways to drastically reduce this statistic,” Mr. Mangum said. “Filling a role twice, or backfilling a role, costs both the client and the recruiting firm time, opportunity and expense. Top firms have toiled to perfect their processes through years of trial and error, however, recently it is the use of data analytics that has given firms the edge over their competition.”


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“The incorporation of data into hiring strategies creates an avenue for continuous improvement over firms who do not heavily leverage data,” he said. “Pulling from a depth of specific and specialized talent market-data lowers the risk assumed, refines the screening process, and creates a more acutely- performing and efficient recruitment process.”

Collecting Data Is Not Interpreting It

Recruiters continue to say that the incorporation of data into hiring strategies creates an avenue for continuous improvement over firms that do not heavily leverage data. Pulling from a depth of specific and specialized talent market-data lowers the risk assumed, refines the screening process, and creates a more acutely- performing and efficient recruitment process.

“Data itself is not inherently beneficial — the collection, analysis, re-integration, and validation are necessary for utilizing data effectively,” said Mr. Mangum. “To understand data, it must be linked to a consequence of some sort. For example, retention rate is directly linked to the quality-of-hire, which relies on the candidates having an average tenure of three years. Building links between commonalities in the data of quality placements will improve the efficiency of the sourcing process,” he said. “Another important facet of incorporating data into a firm’s strategies is data integrity. A majority of recruitment firms have shown an aversion to data due to a lack of secured data integrity. Ensuring the collection of accurate, unbiased data is necessary to any form of data reintegration.”

In the recruitment industry, where 20 percent of recruiters represent 80 percent of a firm’s profits. The dependency on top performers is dangerous to the stability of a firm. The abnormally high turnover rate of the recruiting industry, 352 percent according to the American Staffing Association, is pressingly poignant when coupled with the staggering rise in attrition rates among disengaged employees.

Related: Analytic and Assessment Tools Gain Traction

Disengaged employees are more likely to quit than other employees. “Only the recruitment firms that invest into the development of their recruitment staff will bridge the skill and engagement gap between the top performers and the trailing 80 percent,” Mr. Mangum said.

“Deconstructing the recruitment process, from sourcing to retention, can be used to identify gaps in the recruitment staff’s targeting, approach, communication and overall ability to gauge talent,” Mr. Mangum said. “Collecting data over time and interpreting trends allows for more pointed talent development and benchmarking of the performance of the top-earning employees.”


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“Understanding why the top 20 percent perform so well is the key to understanding opportunities for improvement and leads to the development of duplicable techniques that can be applied by new/underperforming recruiters,” he said. “Without this level of process deconstruction and data analysis, meaningful talent and process optimization will not be as effective.”

Recruiting’s Functional Internal Dissonance

Based on research conducted by AI matching technology provider Harver, 75 percent of recruiters do not currently use data to improve processes leaving talent acquisition teams half as effective. According to the same research, 82 percent of recruiters have recently dealt with a hiring manager with unrealistic expectations, typically leading to higher turnover rates and a widening skill gap. Better-performing talent acquisition teams are vital to closing the rift between hiring managers and recruiters. The uses of data to understand and better target the talent market is necessary, as 77 percent of recruiters feel more efficient and effective when they fully understand the talent pool as well as current trends and market forces.

Related: Eight Trends for Recruitment Firms to Heed In Changing Times

“Of the recruiting firms that are currently utilizing data, it could often be further integrated,” said Mr. Mangum. “While many firms are able to pull basic statistics through the use of applicant tracking systems or even internal research, advanced integration is often outside the reach of most firms.”

Data derived from placements made over several years including the retention rates of placed candidates, said Mr. Mangum, “can give insight to recruitment teams such as: the most effective lead resources, job boards, prospecting techniques, advertisements, historical success rates of placements made with key accounts, percentage increase in salaries, retention of relocated candidates versus local candidates, retention rates within given verticals or specific industries, and any unique combinations of the two. Recruitment firms should increase fill rate, decrease average time to hire, improve communication, and ultimately lead higher retention rates the longer they work with a company,” he said.

The Solution

“Leveraging data allows recruitment firms and internal talent acquisition teams to improve processes, gain a competitive advantage, increase efficiencies, and leads to better decision making,” said Mr. Mangum. “Advanced tools such as email automation, personalized messaging, machine learning, candidate scoring, vendor prioritization and effective mass communication all leverage the data that is available.”

“The more granular, long-term, and accurate the data, the more effective firms will be at capitalizing on advanced tools in the future,” he said. “Firms that hope to grow and gain market share will only be able to do so through the proper utilization of data.”

Related: Five Ways HR Can Maximize Data and Analytics

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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