Talent Intelligence Matters
How Much You Know About Who – That’s What really Counts
It’s not who you know or what you know that makes you an effective recruiter. Those are pluses and increase the odds that you will succeed, but what really counts is what you know about others. The more information you have about the market, the labor supply, and potential candidates, the better you will be able to meet the needs of your hiring managers and organization.
The problem we have is getting all that information. We usually have anecdotal data about the talent supply without objective proof. We also might have some data about the skills and experience we can extract from recent applicants and hires, but rarely do we have solid evidence that these skills are the ones that make a difference.
What we do not have is data on the skills of our current workers, reliable data on how many qualified candidates are in the labor market in our region, data on how many people are graduating with degrees in areas we have an interest in, or who works at our competitors that we might be able to hire.
In my experience, we try to figure these out with little success. After all, think of the tools we work with. Usually, little more than Google or some other search engine, an applicant tracking system, maybe a candidate relationship management tool, and job boards. None of these can give us the big picture of the talent market nor can they help us find hard-to-find candidates. We also typically have boring and ineffective career sites that let everyone send in a resume. We use generic job descriptions that allow too much latitude for interpretation and are not based on skills that have been objectively cataloged. The most sophisticated firms have dedicated sourcers that use Boolean searches and other specialized techniques to find people - if they have a web presence. If the people you need do not have a LinkedIn profile or a social media account they are invisible to most search engines.
We often rely on employee referral programs because we assume that fellow employees know the job and person well enough to vouch for the specific, often intangible qualities that cannot be found on the resume or in the interview. However, this may be a bad assumption as turnover rates for referrals are the same as for any other hire. The stories that these programs result in better quality employees at lower costs are most likely just myths. We don’t have objective studies that give us empirical data.
But all is not hopeless. Technology can help, as can other techniques for digging deeper.
Here are a few tips.
Tip #1. Talent intelligence tools
Talent Intelligence tools now exist that leverage artificial intelligence to search for insights and intelligence on everything from who works at the competition to what skills exist inside your organization, the region, or the country you are focused. They can quickly search huge volumes of data and provide insights that are invisible to those without these tools.
They provide demographic data and market trends. This is the most valuable kind of information for strategic planning and for anticipating trends. These tools are also invaluable in providing insights into your own workforce and discovering skills employees have that you are not aware of. There are several excellent ones available including Reejig, HiringSolved, Ideal, and Stratigens by Talent Intuition and the Dutch firm specializing in Europe, The Intelligence Group. I highly recommend you check these out.
Tip #2: Use your ATS system as well as you can.
Most large organizations have a resume tracking system or ATS. While these are mostly useless for the kind of data mining I am suggesting, they can be used more effectively than they are. They are filled with resumes and data from people who previously applied and contain a goldmine of useful data. Learn how to dig into these stored resumes to look for people with specific skills or attributes. It is quite likely someone in this untapped database is the one you are looking for.
Tip #: Build a better career site
Career sites can be good sources of general information about who is interested in your organization and what positions are most and least attractive. Using Google Analytics or other tools you can see what candidates are most interested in, how long they visit, and whether or not they eventually apply.
Research shows that video-heavy career sites with candid information and job previews attract the best candidates. If possible also incorporate a conversational chatbot to engage candidates and gather data that can be used to improve the chatbot and career site as well as more effectively screen in the best candidates,
Tip #4: Gather information from many sources.
The final tip is simple. Comb the Internet, online articles, Tweets, and other social media accounts for any scraps of information that could provide information about people that might make good candidates. For example, reports on promotions or job movements are frequently available on LinkedIn. Set up flags to get notified. Potential candidates may have written articles or spoken at conferences that could give the hiring manager insight into their interests and strengths.
The depth that you know your market and can identify the specific skills and people you are seeking is what separates the great recruiter from the just good one.
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