5 Big Data Recruitment Myths Busted


Big Data is a term that can’t be escaped these days. Whatever it is you need to know – if your data is big enough then you’ll find the answer. Yet it remains a term shrouded in confusion with many in the recruitment sector secretly skeptical as to what Big Data can help them achieve.

Recruitment Grapevine spoke to Sally-Anne Rogers, Brand and Communication Manager at jobstheword.co.uk, to see if she could help bust some Big Data myths.

Myth No 1     Big Data Is Just A Buzzword and Meaningless

The buzzword part is certainly true, but big data in itself is not meaningless. The term has simply been overused by so many because it is ‘on trend’, which is why it is now viewed by some as pure hype.

Big data has been around for decades – some would argue even longer – but what is new in recruitment, is the very latest in technological advances that enable us to marry the work of those with expert analytical skills, with that of those with an in-depth knowledge of the industry. Putting these experts in the driving seat enables them to formulate real business value through the analysis of massive amounts of data freely available on the Internet.

However, managing big data on a technology level is one thing, managing big data so that it supports business goals successfully is another. Algorithms are generally stated as the ‘big secret’ but there are very few base algorithms. It is the exploration of finding the right mix, along with the application of the right type of intelligence, which is key.

Myth No 2     Big Data Will Replace In-House Recruiters

Absolutely not, it will simply free up recruiters’ time so they can do the job that adds value to their organization – promoting the brand and attracting talent.

Imagine not having to trawl through hundreds of CVs, or search endless social media profiles, with a hiring manager breathing down your neck. Imagine just uploading a job spec and have the perfect people come to you with the right qualifications and experience, along with a map to show where they are located.

This is the real power of big data. It could be that for niche roles recruiters are fishing in an empty pond, in which case big data technology can pinpoint on a map to show them where they reside, or even if they exist.

Big data technology will release recruiters from the shackles of search, enabling them to form meaningful relationships with those interested in applying for their roles.

Myth No 3     Big Data Is All About Size

It is not just about size, but also about complexity. To call anything ‘big data’ a combination of both is required. The complexity of any data set is an important factor in the decision as to whether it is big data; no matter how large the organisation, their data sets are not always complex. Big data only deals with unpredictable and unstructured information, which cannot be organised or analysed using traditional database technology.  

Myth No 4     Our HR Analytics Is Big Data

Most HR systems are unlikely to fall into the category of big data. HR analytics is a popular topic, but it is usually based on predictable structures. Just because you have a bigger organisation with lots of data in an HR system, coupled with insight from social media platforms, does not mean you are using big data.

Myth No 5     Big Data Means Big Brother

Not according to Chris Hoyt, Pepsico’s Talent Engagement and Marketing Leader. He says his people understand they are accountable and their performance needs to be measured. Recruiters at Pepsico see it as a great tool for keeping themselves on track.

The Reality of Big Data

Big Data is about acquiring and making sense of very large unstructured, unpredictable data. The real power of big data is finding the needle in the haystack. Imagine trying to solve this question asked by your hiring manager:

'Find me people today with the skills we need, who will fit our organisation, and are currently working for our competitors, all within 30 miles of our offices. Then invite ten of them into our talent pipeline.'

There are recruitment technology companies emerging that can now solve this exact problem.

Image courtesy of wiki author calvinius

Comments (1)
Mon, 22 Jun 2015 11:30pm BST
it will be interesting to see if any of the big data technologies bring applied to recruitment such as wolf talent actually speed up hiring. Big data and analytics is something which has been discussed for the past couple of years but as yet hasn't proved to work.
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Sun, 22 Feb 2015 9:57pm GMT
Mich Talebzadeh

I have talked about Big data in my blog https://talebzadehmich.wordpress.com/

I agree with most points raised here. Big Data is nowadays a vogue of the Month or the year. I recall around 10 years ago Linux was in the same category as well. Anyway we have got used to these trends. Bottom line Big Data is a trendy term these days and if you don’t know about it and you are in I.T. then you are missing the buzz.

Big Data has come about due to massive explosion of unstructured data from social media. Traditionally over the past 20-30 years the bulk of data used in many industries including Financial sector is stored in relational databases in structured format. Yes the one with tables and columns, primary keys, indexes, third normal form and stuff that originated by Dr Codd in 1980. Before that they were hierarchical and network databases but we won’t go into that. The current estimate is that around 20-30% of available data is stored in structured format and the rest are unstructured. Unstructured refers to piece of data that either does not have a pre-defined data model or is not organized in a pre-defined manner. So if you are coming from relational database management background like myself, you may be correctly asking yourself, why we need all this when we have reliable, time tested relational databases (RDBMS)? The answer is something that probably you already know. In short not every data fits into a structured mold and the unstructured data accounts for 70% of the data!

Also Big Data relying on Hadoop distributed file system (HDFS) can take advantages of cheap commodity hardware to horizontally spread data on various boxes akin to a server farm. In contract, most relational databases are based on vertical scaling (meaning being on the same physical hardware).
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