The era of Big Data is upon us, and forward-thinking HR leaders are turning smart use of talent analytics into a competitive advantage. With approximately 160 million workers in the U.S. alone and experts estimating that payroll equals more than 40% of total revenue for most businesses, truly understanding what drives quality in your talent acquisition function makes a quantifiable difference to your organization’s bottom line.

Transforming data into actionable insights requires making correlations to business value and outcomes. It means leveraging data and reporting patterns to infer causation, to create the ability to forecast, and to make strategic, evidence-based decisions. As talent analytics emerges as a differentiator, the following steps demonstrate how innovative HR leaders can harness its power to drive talent acquisition. 

Leverage Your Technological Investments

HR can (and has) become a strategic business partner by integrating technologies such as HRIS and ATS platforms. These technologies facilitate the capture and extraction of relevant HR data, subsequently providing a greater understanding of performance and enabling you to address key business objectives.

The transformation from paper to database-driven applications means organizations are brimming with HR and employee data; demographic information, academic history, source-of-hire, completed training, and numerous other factors pertinent to employee performance that have been measured for years. 

While having the data at your disposal is the first step, value only emerges once you actually put it to work.

Establish Benchmarks

Transforming the expansive amount of intelligence available to you into true talent analytics requires expertise in data analysis, statistics, visualization and problem-solving. Although there is a certain level of complexity with any foray into data analysis, leaders seeking to embrace talent analytics for the first time can capitalize by starting small.

Use the information on hand to create organizational benchmarks for quality indicators and process measurements, such as time-to-fill, source-of-hire and what areas or departments are producing the best talent. Then, use those metrics to benchmark against industry standards. Doing so provides a baseline for ongoing process improvements.

Take It to the Next Level

The best talent acquisition specialists are leveraging data to identify vital talent traits, source more strategically and gain insight into the effectiveness of recruitment marketing campaigns. If your organization has already embraced these practices and is looking for what’s next, it is time to consider predictive talent analytics.

Diving deeper with your data analysis enables you to challenge traditional perceptions of what quality talent looks like. For instance, conventional wisdom may tell us top engineers need college degrees from highly-renowned universities, specific GPAs and experience in a certain industry, among other qualifications. Many sourcing, recruiting, interviewing and hiring best practices are built around these beliefs. But this may be misleading, as these ideas are based on personal experience or judgments, not hard data.

In fact, your most successful engineers may share other traits that correlate with success such as various research experience, history with a firm in an industry different than the one you’re hiring for, comprehensive training or leadership program certifications, and candidates who did not quit school at any point without first obtaining a degree – traits that even the most advanced Boolean searches cannot identify. Boolean searching can help recruiters mine resume databases, but it only provides what the candidate has rather than what they may lack. Using predictive talent analytics, HR leaders can move beyond traditional beliefs, prove what performance indicators really matter, and proactively target the right candidates. This ability to make more informed hiring decisions is what will make your talent acquisition function the best in your industry.

Make Better Hires Faster

More than ever before, HR has the opportunity to impact financial and operational performance by enabling smart hiring decisions quickly. Many organizations have the data, but lack the skills or resources to unlock its potential. Work internally with IT, marketing and finance staff for assistance in your efforts, but also consider the option of partnering with external experts.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) providers provide a centrally-managed solution that takes advantage of all of the opportunities that talent analytics has to offer – including benchmarking performance, providing predictive analysis and digging deeper than even the most advanced Boolean searches. Leading RPO providers are ahead of the curve, integrating talent analytics with traditional business intelligence and enabling leaders to generate new insights while making best-fit hiring decisions. And they have the expert recruiters to transform insights into action, resulting in you sourcing and hiring smarter and faster than your competition.