How Recruiters are Using Big Data to Find the Best Hires

There are more ways than ever to find and screen potential candidates. With that comes a flood of information.


The staffing process has evolved and is much faster than it used to be. To keep up, recruiters are using big data to find the best hires ahead of the competition.

With many developments in technology, the internet, and social media, it has led to growth in recruiting channels.

Staffing agencies have more access to candidates and the necessary tracking tools. It provides analytics with better insights to target the right applicant for a job.

Filling positions have become more complex, and so have candidate requirements.

A candidate once only needed to have the required skill set to do the job. Today, the skill set has expanded to include needing to know how to use tech, software, and mobile devices.

Applicant requirements have changed from the advancements in technology, and so has the recruiting process.

Recruitment agencies have adopted the use of items like software and other tech-related solutions that enable them to automate repetitive aspects of the hiring process.

For instance, software is used to shortlist the good candidates as HR does not have the time. Applicant tracking software continues to be effective in helping recruiters to uncover and form a massive pool of qualified and talented candidates.

Other solutions include features like the recording of interactions, applicant information, and job history that is held in a recruiters’ database.

All the additions and modifications to the recruiting process allow it to speed up, gain insights, and use big data to hire the best of the best.

What is Big Data?

Big data is a term defined for data sets that are large or complex that traditional data processing applications, software, or tools cannot analyze alone.

The data is so big, and yet growing exponentially with time. The data sets require a large amount of storage space, at least one terabyte — if not hundreds of petabytes. (note: 1 petabyte = 1024 terabytes!).


Facebook stores around 100 petabytes (or more) of pictures and videos alone.

3 Vs of Big Data

These characteristics, alone, are enough to know about big data.

1. Variety — Data that is gathered by multiple sources.

2. Velocity — The speed at which data is being created in real-time.

3. Volume — We already know that big data is enormous "volumes" of data that are being generated daily. Such a large amount of information is stored in data warehouses.

Although the 3 Vs provide us enough information to know about big data, what does it comprise?

Two Types

The two types of big data are structured and unstructured data.

1. Structured data — involves data that can be processed, stored, and retrieved in a fixed format.

2. Unstructured Data — refers to the data that lacks any specific form or structure whatsoever.

At times, you may receive semi-structured data. It pertains to the data containing both the formats mentioned above.

Big Data consists of the following:

  • Analysis
  • Capturing the data
  • Data creation
  • Searching
  • Sharing
  • Transfer
  • Visualization
  • Querying
  • Information privacy

To help visualize the volume of big data, here are some examples.


  • Stock exchanges
  • Social media sites
  • Crime statistics

What does Big Data Reveal?

Data sets may be analyzed computationally. The analyses reveal the following:

  • Patterns — To identify customer pain points
  • Trends — To provide highly personalized customer experiences.
  • Actionable insights — To predict outcomes
  • Associations — To discover human behavior and interactions.

In the recruitment process, big data can include a combination of information: a resume, recommendations, social media engagement, job history, qualifications.

Big data is then used to determine which among the applicants is best suited for the job.

Staffing the Best Candidates

Various industries are using big data to learn how to leverage the available data in meaningful ways for them. Other sectors include health care, hospitality, retail, and public service.

For the staffing industry, big data is a large volume of data that recruiters can use to analyze and reveal information that helps them find the ideal employee.

Big data recruiting goes beyond screening resumes for keywords or social media data mining. It is how agents can create a 360-degree picture of each candidate before ever meeting them.

It helps recruiters select the most qualified candidates for interviews. Agents can gain information from a variety of online sources like social media, shopping habits, and reading preferences.

Recruiters have access to a goldmine of personal information that individuals agree to provide many online sites. The ability to use data from various places is a better way to assess applicants than merely a one-page resume.

Use big data to gain a full picture of a candidate to get a sense of their personality and skills. Gather information about each candidate from the following:

  1. Data from resumes
  2. Data from pre-employment assessments
  3. Data from social media profiles

Big data assists staffing agencies in predicting a candidate’s success in a given role.

Recruiters need to find applicants who align with company culture, ethos, and core values.

6 Big Data Benefits

  1. Helps manage large volumes of applications in a short time.
  2. Streamlines the recruitment process.
  3. Reduces the cost per hire and the average time needed to fill open positions.
  4. Predicts talent needs by analyzing trends in voluminous data.
  5. Predicts the success of applicants by combining data mining with predictive analytics.
  6. Discovers a candidate's red flags before an offer is made.

Even though recruiters now have so much access to big data, it is rendered useless if the recruiter cannot interpret the results. They must understand what they are looking at to indicate the importance of each data point.

The top staffing agencies leverage sources of data to quickly weed out the good from the bad candidates.

Finally, big data should be used in addition to other staffing activities and not in place of it. The human element in recruitment is still essential in the hiring process.

Although technology has advanced, it still cannot provide perception and the judgment of the recruiter.

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