Overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data that comes along with recruiting and tracking candidates? These techniques will help you use that data to become a more effective recruiter.

Like much of the language used in recruiting and HR, it’s easy to be intimidated by terms like “big data,” “social API” and “CRM.”

But don’t worry if that futuristic-sounding jargon goes over your head. You can still learn from these new trends and apply these ideas to improve your recruiting systems, data and processes. And that will help you reach your end goal: bringing in quality candidates.

Here’s how to use big data to become a better recruiter:

1. Reject your predecessors’ rut and embrace new tools

Don’t settle for the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. Be a leader of new methods and ideas. If your suggestions can harness and improve the data that already exists, you’ll be the new rockstar in the office and make your coworkers’ lives easier.

Whether you have someone showing you the ropes or you’re all on your own, everyone has a different way of managing the data that comes into their office. Find what works best for you and your team.

Select tools that can be accessed from multiple sources so the data you gather is not isolated. For example, a shared Google Drive spreadsheet might be a better tool than an Excel document saved on your hard drive. Using new technology often makes it that much easier to collaborate with both your peers and your candidates.

2. Clean up your database and systems so you can use them more effectively

With the amount of data at our fingertips today, human processes simply aren’t enough. Too much information exists, and human error mixed with underutilized systems can make for a messy and unusable pool of data. It’s called “big data” for a reason; there’s a whole lot of it!

You might be surprised to see people on your team have vastly different ways of doing things, and you’ll probably even encounter data that’s not centralized or standardized. Find a way to create a central place where you can all contribute (ideally your ATS or a CRM). Embrace CRM systems, tools and plugins to make sense of all this data.

Streamline the input of data that’s commonly inputted incorrectly, like phone numbers or state abbreviations. Suggest that everyone on the recruiting team use the same process and format when entering data about potential applicants. If everyone knows how the data is arranged, it’s easier to “shop” your applicant tracking system.

Strive to learn more than simply how to use the tools available to you. Knowing how to improve and extend their use is the goal. As you grow in your career, this vision will set you apart from your peers and help you become more effective at your job.

3. Develop a stronger brand image

Employer branding has become a huge part of recruiting. The easier the application process is for candidates, the more attractive your company will look to job hunters. You can use big data in a way that’s beneficial to both recruiters and applicants.

This is even more reason to clean up and declutter your database. When your data is clean, top talent doesn’t get contacted by multiple recruiters, sourcers and hiring managers. You’ll have far fewer incomplete or incorrect records, resulting in fewer unqualified or mismatched interviews. Plus, candidates won’t have to complete an application, send in a resume, upload a profile and answer 20 questions for multiple people within the organization.

 You could take it one step further and allow target candidates to add data to their own profiles. Gerry Crispin, a pioneer in Candidate Experience (which many agree is at the heart of good employer brands), dubbed this “Trust in Registry.” Employers will, of course, use this information as part of healthy recruiting processes, and there will be far fewer “cold calls” and repeat interviews when the candidate profile is complete. This practice will help to build trust and increase communication.

Dave Mendoza is a multi-award-winning talent acquisition thought leader and global speaker. He provides talent strategy roadmaps and customized innovations on behalf of leading Fortune 500 companies, and recently wrote Futurecasting: How the rise of Big Social Data API is set to Transform the Business of Recruiting.


  1. Olive

    Hey have any of you checked our myedu for employers? They have a new recruiting tool targeting college students and recent grads. Seems like a great place to find entry levels hires and interns. They just launched a free trial today so might be worth checking out. You can find it at employers.myedu.com

  2. Felinearity

    /facepalm. Using a Gdocs spreadsheet and keeping your ATS in Bristol fashion is NOT using “big data” for recruiting.

    “Like much of the language used in recruiting and HR, it’s easy to be intimidated by terms like “big data,” “social API” and “CRM.”/doublefacepalm. If tech recruiters are “intimidated” by this, they really deserve to be replaced by algorithms that intelligently scrape code repositories and organize into profiles with contact info. THAT is using big data to recruit. Idiot.

  3. Cap'n Balls

    This article outlined what’s really wrong with a lot of the recruiting specialty. This guy is a “thought leader” and calls this big data?


  4. Marlo

    I think this more accurately displays big data’s role in HR. http://bit.ly/13GsO2K

  5. davemendoza

    The article clearly emphasizes the critical point “improve your recruiting systems, data and processes.” I am not suggesting the three steps “are big data” but how to be proactive in applying quality validation in anticipation of divergent data streams. The article parameters limit the technical discussion aspects to be sure, and hence for a true technical elaboration of true big data and social api convergence I invite you to read my white paper, “”Futurecasting: How the rise of Big Social Data is set to transform the business of recruiting” ( http://bit.ly/ZAcQ40 ). To every story allegory there is a lesson … and we start with the basic beginnings to recommend first …. fix what you have in a proactive manner. Surely we dont suggest that every recruiter has there fingers in the backend of big data outputs, correct? That said, as I have personally reviewed hundreds of thousands of records in the raw …. I can tell you sincerely, if the field filters feed off incomplete data to begin with, and aged data above all ….. you can not hope to visualize the end goal of a convergent system – standardization and criteria are the start. Data above all most be scalable, distributable and easily migrated … and all these three factors immediately hit a wall without codifying process for a team to segway into this new frontier. Hence, we start with the rudimentary basics to accomplish the end goal of “improving your recruiting systems, data and processes.”

  6. davemendoza

    To get the technical version that elaborates on all the issues addressed by the comments, you can find a fair assessment to be reviewed within my research white paper,”Futurecasting: How the rise of Big Social Data API is set to Transform the Business of Recruiting.” ( http://bit.ly/ZAcQ40 ).

  7. 3 Ways Recruiters can use Big Data to find the ...

    […] Overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data that comes along with recruiting and tracking candidates? These techniques will help you use that data to become a more effective recruiter.  […]

  8. Headfield.com

    Thanks Dave….These tips are really very helpful. These days recruiters and employers are going online to find the best candidates for openings.

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