Asked to summarize the main theme of the Spring 2016 ERE conference I attended in one word, I would say “data”. Just about every single presentation focused on how data is already an enabler of innovation and will increasingly play a major part in all aspects of the talent acquisition process in the future. However, as presenter Corrine Sandler, author of Wake Up or Die, warned, data is useless unless it leads to an opportunity that helps you accelerate your brand, hire better talent, make better business decisions to grow your business and mitigate risks. Dr. John Sullivan also highlighted this in his presentation by stating that collecting metrics related to talent acquisition has had, to date, no real impact because recruiting functions typically have not done anything with the data collected.
This theme was reinforced in several other sessions and got me thinking more deeply about how we, as talent acquisition professionals, can better use data to “sell” our internal customers on the need for continued investments in the function itself. For example, in another session, a panel of recruitment leaders (Jeanna Barrie and David Watson from Avanade and John Ricciandi from ERE Media) shared best practices on applying data to manage the talent acquisition function. They argued that recruiters often don’t use data as effectively as they can to communicate in “business speak” with hiring managers and thereby miss opportunities to make the case that recruitment can, indeed, make their world better. Talent supply and demand analytics tools (like the Conference Board’s “Talent Neuron” or Careerbuilder’s “TalentStream”) should be in every recruiter’s toolbox as they bridge the “business speak” communication gap with hiring managers. Bottom line, It’s really about turning data into numbers to represent hard dollars and illustrate the business impact of recruiting decisions. As another presenter, John Murphy of Aspen Dental commented, this is critical to ensuring that the business “gets and understands the value of talent acquisition.”