HR and Big Data: How to start?

Big data is revolutionizing the world of human resources just as much as social networks revolutionized communications. And such a revolution cannot be accomplished overnight. Companies and recruiters who manage to be well prepared and find solutions that are tailored to their needs will lead this technological shift.

Big data is not for all companies and recruiters. To invest in this tool, you need a lot of data to process and candidates to recruit in senior or strategic positions. Alternatively, you may need it to resolve strategic issues, such as high turnover rates.

While big data is still in its infancy, recruiters must start somewhere. “The challenge for companies today is to organize data in order to determine what constitutes a good profile or how to measure its performance,” says Eric Tonto, cofounder of, a predictive recruitment platform. To do this, we must first isolate a position in order to bring out its most relevant data.

Large Canadian companies such as Bombardier, National Bank and Desjardins are already working on these issues for data analysis. “The more companies will be equipped with data, the more they will identify increasingly interesting correlations that will guide them, like a GPS, to only the best candidates,” says Jean-Baptiste Audrerie, director of marketing and organizational psychologist at SPB Organizational Psychology.

To then go towards big data, that is to say, in order to predict the best potential candidate for the business’ best development, we must have internal processes (and people capable of analyzing data) and use solutions for collecting data.

Improving solutions

Recruiters can now get help from some suppliers in establishing predictive portraits that will enable them to determine, for example, the factors that best explain a candidate’s performance or suitability relative to the culture, the company, the team and even the position. Some larger companies, such as Google, may produce these portraits themselves.

The solutions on the market do not all have the same goal. For example, Guild, in the United States, assesses skills and talents in the IT field. Evolv, purchased by Cornerstone OnDemand, and offer recruitment solutions and candidates based on predictive research. 

Other vendors, such as Illicojob, provide platforms for improved job searches where they filter through candidates' CVs and find the perfect match for any given business’ particular needs. Talentbin, which was bought by Monster, offers the possibility of searching for passive candidates on social networks and the Web.

Judging from the frantic and ever-changing pace in big data, the solutions that exist today may disappear tomorrow. Read or not, the experts believe that big data will become a staple in recruitment within the next five years. For now, it is better to have some control over the beast that is data, and then make changes one step at a time as they come.

To have a look at Jean-Baptiste Audrerie’s recruitment solutions (last updated in March 2014):

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