Whose Data is it Anyway? by @BryanChaney

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Oct 30, 2015
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Some companies swear by their database. If they happen to have a candidate’s resume, CV, or profile “somewhere” on file, then they don’t consider them a new candidate. They think they OWN the data like it’s locked up in a Kentucky safe with a list of 11 herbs and spices.

The philosophy is that they previously paid for that data, and could have found and engaged that person on their own. But they didn’t. You did.

I can envision agency recruiters nodding their heads while reading this. However the problem exists in every single facet of recruiting. If you know how to find it, the sourcing data in many cases is ubiquitous. That doesn’t keep us from practicing the daily digital land grab.

Buying the data

  • External job postings – Can you imagine reading the label ingredients on a can of soup, out loud as the commercial selling that meal? Mmmm, monosodium glutamate and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. I’m hungry already. This is what happens when you use requirements as a job advertisement. Many of us copy/paste from a previous horrible version, to save time creating a new horrible one. But the loudest percentage of job posting respondents are motivated NOT to be unemployed. So they still work at driving applicants to our jobs. But not necessarily viable candidates, which is an issue if you prefer quality over quantity.
  • Email lists from events – Career fairs, networking shindigs, industry or user conferences. Whatever you call them, they are critical to your lead funnel. And converting that stack of resumes or business cards into usable data takes time. Which means that you need a follow up communication strategy in place – before the event even happens.
  • List vendors – Some we buy from name generation firms or sales lead companies. Some we access through Hoovers, ZoomInfo or another resource. Most need to be appended or refreshed because they age…quickly. Remember phone books?

Renting the data

  • Resume database access – Job board search, user groups and member associations. As someone who started my recruiting career leveraging these resources for Fortune 500 clients, I’m always amazed by how often they go unused or at least underutilized. Millions of resumes are waiting for your recruiters to reach out. And waiting…
  • Renting the network – The most visible professional network broker in the U.S. for now is Linkedin. And with an average inMail response rate around 22%, many of us can do better with the actual email address or phone number. Users of Entelo, Connectifier or Prophet can attest to this, as well as the recent flip-flopping in Linkedin data download permissions. Not to mention that there are lots of technical folks that don’t even have a Linkedin profile.
  • Contingency firms – There’s definitely a time and place for partnering with an external agency. Moving into a new skill vertical or geography where you don’t have brand recognition or an existing network makes sense in the short term. The trick is keeping track of when and where each candidate is submitted, and having solid relationships (notice I said partner?). When you send multiple agencies out to market your roles, you end up potentially generating more brand confusion than affinity. Think about assigning three employees the same project separately but don’t tell them about each other’s efforts. No collaboration is going to lead to wasted time, energy, and resources. Not to mention frustrated vendors, employees, and prospective candidates.

Earning the data

  • Talent communities – I’m talking about a candidate relationship management (CRM) system, not a spreadsheet or database in solitary confinement. You can lower the barrier to entry by giving prospective candidates the ability to opt-in for news, culture, and employment experience stories. See, I didn’t even mention jobs because that’s not nurturing and most prospects know how to get to those on their own.
  • Employee referrals – The holy grail of warm leads, when a process is communicated and managed well internally. I just had three contacts in one day reach out to me for three different opportunities. All three are already talking to recruiters and hiring managers.
  • Social network connections – Most of these are slower to convert, because this process is like making new friends. It takes time to build your audience. But when you have shared the right content (helpful, valuable, interesting), they’re powerful and tend to come with much more buy-in from prospective candidates. After all, you’ve told them why they should care.
  • Applicants – The lowest of all (forgive me) hanging fruit. Which may be why some people feel they’re being stepped on in the process of becoming candidates. The black hole they’re experiencing? That’s not a cask to ferment crushed souls into delicious Pinot Noir, so tread lightly. After all, some of the best recruiters actually source their company’s ATS and wouldn’t want to encounter some very sour grapes.

Timing and relationships are the two most important differentiators to get people engaged in a recruiting conversation. Not clinging to an untouched aging resume in your dusty database.

So whose data is it anyway? Just ask Ashley Madison. It’s what you do with the data that matters.

What’s your preferred data aggregation approach or tool?

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.