• Edwin and George

Big Data: Size doesn't always matter in recruitment


There have been various articles recently discussing the impact of Big Data in the Recruitment World.

Data (Big and Small) is the driving force behind any business in the 21st century.

Ramayya Krishnan, Dean of Carnegie Mellon University’s H. John Heinz III College and a leader in the field of data analytics, says, “We’re in the midst of a ‘Data Tsunami’,” and that “There has been explosive growth in the size complexity and rates in which we can gather data.”

Data is very important to recruitment. How you interpret information is more important. Human judgement, however, is crucial...and it is the bit we are yet to write a flawless algorithm for...

Our generation is one obsessed with information. There is, as a result, a bit of a furore around Big Data; which often comes with the unknown. There is a danger that Big Data can be over-hyped when it comes to recruitment.

Ask yourself: what data is being collected, and for what purpose? Is it valuable?

Essentially, in recruitment, the data is used to help human judgement which is and will always be crucial in the hiring process.

A report from McKinsey & Co. suggests that "decision making may never be the same" as a result of Big Data; as the information gained can help build judgement. Automated algorithms, however, cannot and will not replace human decision making in the recruitment industry.

If, as Peter Sondergaard of the Gartner Group says, “Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine." Then we need to really look at the quality of oil going into our engine...and (given the recent fall in oil prices) be careful we are not paying too much. In short, your decisions are only as good as the data make your judgement from.

There are huge advantages in being able to analyse factors such as applicant or job seeker trends. They can help dictate the direction of strategies from your Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to printed/online marketing collateral and whom you spend your time speaking with to get the best ROI. Big Data can give new insights to help make informed decisions. We use Big Data in our profiling tool Interpr8 for example to examine tenure at a company and compare with similar roles and industries.

At EGM, our data crunching puts science to support human (yes recruiters are human) judgment.

Relying too much on Big Data, however, is short-sighted. Information gained from a reference or personality test can arguably be more useful than other forms of Big Data.

Data of all sizes is useful but, as Krishnan says, "We need to be problem driven”.

There is a risk that we can collect huge amounts of complex data for no real purpose.

“We need to support both bottom up and strategic planning on problems and initiatives that are likely to benefit from data analytics and enable their use of these technologies”.

Furthermore, data can be manipulated. As Ronald Coase, Economics, Nobel Prize Laureate said “Torture the data, and it will confess to anything”. In the world of recruitment, informed decisions are key to the hiring process.


We should, therefore, be relying on the most relevant data rather than getting caught up in size.

Size doesn’t matter when it comes to data in recruitment; it’s how you use it.

#bigdatarecruitment #financialrecruitment #egmrecruitment #accountingandfinancerecruitment

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