What Does Big Data Mean for Job Candidates?

March 14th, 2014

In the world of HR and talent management, Big Data is commonly referred to as people analytics. On a global scale, the employment industry is becoming increasingly automated and algorithm based, as Big Data is applied to the hiring process on a widespread basis.

As you apply for jobs, you can expect more employers to use indirect assessments of your fit. For instance, you may be asked to play an online game and your performance will be analyzed to try and correlate it with your potential success in a position.

People analytics is still in its early stages, but make no mistake about it: It’s the wave of the future. It will not replace the need for personal interviews, but it is quickly emerging as a frequently-utilized prerequisite.

Data Based Hiring

Predictive statistical analysis is poised to alter the way job candidates are assessed. You may be familiar with Moneyball, the 2003 bestseller by Michael Lewis. It’s the story of Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland A’s, who became a professional sports superstar after turning his back on scouts and entrusting his player-acquisition decisions to mathematical models.

The A’s went on to achieve the longest winning streak in American League baseball history. The team’s success launched a revolution, as team after team began using predictive models to assess players’ potential and monetary value.

This was an early example of Big Data meeting HR. In the ensuing years, the relationship has solidified and continues to grow stronger.

  • An estimated 98 percent of the world’s information is now stored digitally. The volume of that data has quadrupled since 2007. The first Big Data inroads were made as predictive analysis tracked stock market fluctuations and individuals’ Web history for marketing purposes. Now, this data-driven approach applies in the labor market as well.
  • The global economy has witnessed a “huge surge in demand for workforce analytics.” This was noted by Cornell University industrial and labor relations professor John Hausknecht. His own program is being rapidly revised to keep pace with Big Data developments.

People analytics may feel a bit strange, but it’s a fact of life in hiring and workforce management, circa 2014 and beyond. In the next five to 10 years, new models are expected to be developed and new experiments will likely be run on very large-scale bases.

Dedicated analytics teams are already found in a growing number of HR divisions of leading corporations including:

  • Google
  • HP
  • Intel
  • General Motors
  • Procter & Gamble
  • McKee Foods – the Tennessee based makers of Little Debbie snack cakes

Today’s Question

Big Data HR methods are still fairly new, so there aren’t many conclusive reports to demonstrate their effectiveness. One arena in which people analytics have been proven successful is among hourly workers, for instance, those at big box retail stores and in customer call centers.

The question remains: Should job candidates be ranked by what their Web habits say about them?

When all is said and done, it appears that Big Data will be a key aspect of hiring processes and decision making. However, it will supplement – not replace – the fundamental need for employers to get to know their candidates in person.

For additional resources, information and guidance in your successful job search and career advancement, contact the expert recruiting team at Select Group today.

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