Phil Strazzulla

Founder of

Select Software Reviews

36 min watch

How Do You Become Data Driven?

How Do You Become Data Driven?

Becoming data-driven in Talent Acquisition is more than a buzzword that’s trending online. To maximise the process of being data-driven, it takes a few targeted steps and the ability to charge forward without fear.

To break this topic down much further, Sara Dalsfelt, Adway’s Senior Advisor of Digital Talent Acquisition, sat down in November 2020 with Phil Strazzulla , legendary recruiting software guru and Founder of Select Software Reviews.

Together, they uncovered the talent acquisition best practices for keeping the process simple, the first steps you can take to master data for your organisation, which benchmarks and KPIs really matter, and how to keep a human touch.

If you’re ready to watch the entire session, you can enjoy it here:

And if you’d rather take in the biggest takeaways, keep reading!

Background Check 

Phil Strazzulla is an entrepreneur who’s focused on helping advance the People/HR/Recruiting function through knowledge sharing and community building. His company Select Software Reviews (SSR) helps companies focus on the best HR and recruiting software vendors, with the right frameworks to make the best decision for their business. SSR’s hope is that their research will save teams time by offering vetted shortlists of vendors, pricing guidelines, tips to get budget and everything else they need to know when buying HR tools.

How Can We Simplify The Process of Being Data Driven?

These days, we like to throw around catchy phrases like “Digital Transformation,” but it can overcomplicate the process of what it really means to be data-driven in Talent Acquisition.

For TA organisations to truly trust data and use it to make decisions that move the business forward, there needs to be a less intimidating way to go about this process. Here’s how:

  • Break it down into smaller pieces. By chunking out which data you want to track, you can chip away at your understanding of new technology, the concept of Digital Transformation itself, and how to become more data-driven day by day.
  • Understand your current hiring process. From the first touch a candidate experiences all the way through their onboarding, map out which metrics and tools directly impact how the hiring funnel can (and should) change. This way, you can identify the bottlenecks and breakdowns and optimise accordingly.

If it still feels overwhelming, think about focusing on one metric per quarter while you get a handle on the data.

What Is the First Step In Working With Data?

More often than not, the data you need in TA exists in disparate systems. From job boards to ATS to Google Analytics to candidate assessment tools, these systems aren’t necessarily talking to each other, but they’re storing a lot of data. Smart Talent Acquisition systems like the Adway platform can tie this disparate data together and give you detailed data analytics you can use to move the business forward.

After you’ve mapped out the stages of data you’d like to analyse, create a spreadsheet you can dedicate an hour to updating each month, and keep that data current moving forward. Track visitors, reach, interest in your employer brand, impressions and other interactions you have with active and passive candidates.

From there, you can see the daily frustrations in your hiring process being tied to actual numbers. Those numbers give you power. Perhaps your problem isn’t that you’re not getting enough applications. Maybe you’re getting too many. Now you can see why your screening staff is so strapped — because the data backs up the bottleneck.

You also now know what you need to invest in. In this case, it’s probably an automated assessment tool, video interviewing process or screening chatbot, to name a few innovative recruitment solutions.

Long story short: your data helps you solve your biggest pain points. In doing so, your cost-per-hire and time-to-fill begin to lessen as well.

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Which Benchmarks Really Matter?

According to Phil, there are two benchmarks that really matter:

  1. What your company does right now. You need to know what’s happening in your current state. For example, what percentage of the people who visit your career site become applicants? Knowing your internal numbers before you use data to make a change helps you prove the ROI after the fact.

  2. Benchmarks that are specific to your industry and role type. The time-to-fill for, say, an hourly worker, will be much different than the time-to-fill for a senior engineer. That’s why it’s important to benchmark yourself accurately within your industry.

Joining a networking group or Slack channel that has industry peers searching for similar candidates and roles can help you get a better feel for what the real-time benchmarks are.

Vendors and partners like Adway can also help you work with your data, since it’s what they eat, sleep and breathe every day! Ask them what their analytics indicate about benchmarking success. They may even have published reports that feature this information.

How Can We Work With Data But Keep a Human Touch?

We can still uplevel the human aspect of HR with the help of tech. But how?

We can’t make people-based decisions by living in a spreadsheet all day long. The candidate experience can be so over-optimised that people don’t want to apply for a job at your company. By asking candidates to jump through too many hoops in the candidate assessment process, they can lose interest entirely and move onto something else.

For those who are worried about being too data-driven, think about the implications of what you’re doing on the two most important humans: the candidate and the recruiter. Keeping an open feedback loop is essential here. Between Glassdoor reviews, surveys, etc., you can keep tapping into the pulse of the human aspects of your hiring process.

Finally, you can’t win them all. Inevitably, a candidate or two will have a sour experience with your hiring process. When you collect human feedback, recognise the overall statistical significance of what you get. Just because one person didn’t appreciate a chatbot doesn’t mean it’s time to rip all your recruitment marketing technology out of the equation.

Questions From The Audience 

Fredrik Mellander, Head of Partnerships at Teamtailor

With the Coronavirus pandemic, a lot of people have become unemployed, which has led to a surge of applicants putting pressure on recruiters and their ATS. What would you say is important for the people who are looking for an ATS right now?

  • You can think about what you need right now and find an ATS that checks those boxes for the next 3-5 years. You can also look for innovative recruitment solutions to solve your shorter term pain points (i.e. mobile apply) to patch any gaps you may be facing in the process.

Susanne Hjälmered, CEO, Nexer Recruit

How do you best prepare your team to become data-driven?

  • For starters, you need a specific leader within the organisation who spearheads this initiative. They will do the painful work with the data and use their takeaways to teach everyone else (think lunch-and-learn).
  • Continue pointing to the business case/ business value when you map out your stages and start putting numbers to them.

Phil Burrow, Recruitment Specialist, CALYX 

Funnel stats - useful predictors or hiring manager distractors?

  • To answer this question, you should look at what the best sales and marketing teams do. These industries are often a few steps ahead of TA, and they understand there’s revenue on the line. They know their numbers cold because they look at them every single day. It’s the only way for them to determine whether they’re actually growing their business. In an ideal world, TA will be doing the same thing. TA teams simply need to spend more time with their numbers.

Don Slope, Enterprise Insight Specialist, Euromonitor International 

Bad data-driven decision making is full of vanity metrics. How do we keep FAIR as fundamental for data-driven decision making?

  • Vanity metrics are a huge issue in TA. To stay fair, it all comes back to the benchmarking data. Do the talent acquisition metrics reflect what was invested in the initiatives? Don’t strive to be the best of the best unless you need to be. Get yourself to “good” with each pain point and move on to the next problem.

Viktor Nord, HR Tech Entrepreneur 

Could you mention some KPI that is a must to know regarding TA?

  • Cost-per-hire
  • Time-to-fill

You want to know the above KPIs on a roll-by-roll basis. Reason being, when you’re looking at the ROI from different initiatives, those are the numbers the CFO will care about when you go to make your case.

Additionally, it’s important to measure conversion rates from one step of the funnel to the next. Particularly when you analyse benchmarking data with peers, you can illuminate both your pain points and the lowest hanging fruit.

The Top 3 Takeaways For How to Become Data Driven

  1. Start small. Map out what your hiring process looks like and where you can find data that shows what’s actually going on.

  2. Focus on the one thing that’s the most broken in your process. Once you’ve mapped out the big picture, whittle it down to the biggest pain point. Use this to create your benchmarking data.

  3. Progress is getting started. You have to get your hands dirty with data and not worry about what happens with the numbers at first. The progress happens when you get out a spreadsheet and start tracking.

Are you looking to learn more about some of TA’s most telling KPIs? Check out Adway’s KPI sheet for 11 of the most important KPIs in Digital Recruitment Marketing.

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