According to job description software firm Datapeople, recruiting analytics isn’t a data visualization problem, it’s a data hygiene problem. Fortunately, data hygiene is manageable, the company says.
“Finance teams have QuickBooks, while sales and marketing teams have HubSpot,” says Datapeople spokesperson Charlie Smith. “So, why don’t recruiting teams have powerful platforms for data collection and analysis like other teams do? The reason is that data hygiene is more complicated in recruiting.”
Conventional wisdom says that recruiting analytics is a visualization problem, says Smith. Hiring teams have a lot of information in their applicant tracking system (ATS), and the trick is presenting it in a way that they can use. However, recruiting analytics is, first and foremost, a data hygiene problem, according to Datapeople. And bad or incomplete data yield reports that are misleading at best and valueless at worst, leading to incorrect assumptions and bad strategic decisions.
Data hygiene is tricky in recruiting because there’s no industry standard, so every organization develops its own processes, says Smith. Many companies use ATSs to keep records of their recruiting efforts, but they don’t practice good data hygiene.
Some hiring teams treat their ATS as a repository of candidates (i.e., a talent funnel). They manage job requisitions in the ATS, but they don’t manage candidates. They collect resumes under one requisition and then move qualified candidates to another requisition. This severs the connection between candidates and the original job post, making it impossible to measure the effectiveness of the post.
According to Datapeople, ATSs do a great job of recording data, but they don’t analyze the data. In that way, they’re similar to an accounting ledger. Just because someone has QuickBooks doesn’t mean they can forgo an accountant. They still need to translate their financial information into something meaningful. The same is true for an ATS. Hiring teams have a lot of recruiting information in their ATS, but they still need to translate it. Mostly, that means organizing it so hiring teams can see the metrics that matter most.
Practically speaking, hiring teams need either an analyst or a platform that can organize their recruiting data into usable dashboards, Datapeople suggests. While bigger organizations have the resources to invest in analysts, most do not, so smaller teams need something that can sit between their hiring team and their ATS.
Another wrinkle with ATSs is that, while they’re great at recording process, they’re also flexible. The first part of that is good for data hygiene, the second part isn’t. Flexibility enables hiring teams to design their own bespoke processes for candidates. But flexibility also makes measuring and understanding performance harder for recruiting leaders.
Hiring teams can’t factor recruiting information into daily strategy when it’s trapped in their ATS, messy, or incomplete. Fortunately, according to Datapeople, they can control data hygiene, which depends largely on how they manage requisitions and candidate pools.
In the end, data hygiene depends on solid data cleaning practices from all members of the hiring team at all times, according to Datapeople. It means team members need basic database management skills, and they need to stay vigilant. And everyone, even long-time recruiters, may have to adopt new processes. But by doing so, hiring teams can cultivate good data hygiene and glean usable insight from the information in their ATS.
Data hygiene ensures that data is complete, up-to-date, and not duplicative; and the cleaner the data, the better the reports, according to Datapeople. In recruiting, data hygiene can include standardizing naming conventions for sources, closing job requisitions after a hire, and updating candidate statuses (e.g., ‘rejected’), among other things.
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