Take the Guesswork Out of Hiring: Use Data

By: | August 25, 2018 • 3 min read
Sarah O'Brien is global insights director for LinkedIn's Talent Solutions business.

If you’ve been in the recruiting game for the past decade, you know there’s been a bit of an upgrade in hiring strategies. Yes, the infamous “spray and pray” approach to finding candidates has significantly evolved. With more sophisticated talent acquisition organizations and access to more engaged candidates, data-driven insights are helping to take the guesswork out of hiring.

LinkedIn’s 2018 Global Recruiting Trends Survey revealed that many hiring managers are already in the know: 64 percent say they use data, and 79 percent say they’re likely to in the next two years. It’s a transition, however.


Considering that we’re all creatures of habit, recruiters sometimes over-rely on what’s worked in the past as the basis for future hiring decisions. There’s a name for this: confirmation bias — a common fallacy in looking for your next hire.  It’s tempting to assume that candidates for your next role, for example, will perceive your talent brand in the same way that current employees do, but data-driven insights can ensure that you’re looking at current and emerging trends (rather than what’s in the past) to make strategic hiring decisions.

Consider the war for tech talent. With almost every company in the world clawing at the bits for engineers and designers, understanding where a cohort of underutilized talent resides is key.

Enterprise-software company Atlassian, for example, was facing a tech-skills shortage at its Sydney offices. By pairing their internal data with insights from LinkedIn’s dataset, the company’s talent leaders were able to identify the European markets with both the supply of skilled tech workers they needed and the cities in which they’d previously found candidates willing to relocate to Sydney.

With this information, the company targeted recruiting marketing campaigns in those regions to raise brand awareness and, as a result, increased headcount at Atlassian’s Sydney headquarters by 50 percent within two years.

NBCUniversal found that despite being one of the top entertainment companies in the world, it was facing a huge challenge recruiting for non-creative roles such as finance, HR and technology. Why? Michelle Hord-White, NBCUniversal’s vice president of talent acquisition and campus programs, told us that “If you’re [working] in traditional creative realms, of course our brands are places where you desire to work. However, if you work in finance, HR, or the technology space, there’s a much, much broader range of competitors.”

Hord-White and her team were able to adjust their strategy and move away from just selling the brand to highlighting NBCUniversal’s employee experience. Talent-flow data can help companies identify how their competition is changing and what actions they need to take in order to successfully stand out to candidates.

One of the biggest untapped opportunities for hiring and recruiting is your current employee base. By gaining a better understanding of your own workforce, you’re delivering on the opportunity for internal mobility as well as simplifying the hiring process for your role.


Here at LinkedIn, we look at the skill sets of our employees, and then which parts of the organization tend to gravitate toward similar skill sets, so we can start to understand paths and find pockets of opportunity within the organization. The trend is catching on. Deloitte reports that GE’s HR analytics team is also tracking how employees have moved internally to help identify potential new opportunities for others within the company.

We’re seeing an important shift in the industry and a need for real-time insights about the movement and development of talent. Data is reaching a maturity level where we can identify insights that, combined with recruiter instincts, can increase quality hires. So if you haven’t already, consider using data to identify trends that inform your future strategic hiring decisions.