Data-driven HR: A Strategy for Better Recruiting

An experienced HR manager once told me: “With my new employer, it took a year before I understood what the departments needed.”

So he had spent a full year understanding the complex job profiles and corporate culture. In his opinion, he had only collected the relevant data after one year in order to make the recruiting processes useful for the departments. However, his assessment, which lasted a very long year, was his personal one.

As long as positions are filled within a timeframe that is appropriate for all actors, there is often no criticism in companies. This figure says nothing about the success and quality of recruiting. Above all, it is not a prediction of future success. Focusing on this key figure blocks the view on the relevance of personnel work. In our vision, HR has a strategy that drives the success of the company.

Only a data-driven candidate contact analysis in 5 steps makes it possible to analyze and optimize recruiting holistically:

1. Acquisition: managers search for the perfect candidate, recruiters differentiate between ability and potential
In our example, we assume that you as a recruiter are looking for an employee via a job advertisement. In the first step, you clarify what minimal basic requirements should be available. And you find out what can be learned. If you, as a HR person, do not understand what an employee should do, find out! Your work can only be successful if you ask the right questions and are genuinely interested. Only then can you argue at eye level. Together with the manager, you will develop a realistic requirement profile that distinguishes between current competencies and future potential. The goal is to address suitable applicants. Add further information that will increase the applicants’ interest. Therefore you develop hypotheses which benefits are relevant for the decision of this professional group.

2. Activation: Managers screen application documents, recruiters check assumptions and develop ideas
There are applications in her inbox. What is the most common procedure in practice? Executives want the applicants with the lowest risk to do something wrong: In other words, people who have done the same job in the same industry. There’s nothing wrong with this simple strategy if these applicants exist. In a scarce market like Data Scientists, it doesn’t work. The job description is relatively young. The probability is very low that someone will meet all the requirements.

Recruiters make the relevance of personality aware and show the economic benefit.
For many companies, these are new uncertainties: Does the Data Scientist understand my business and my needs? Can anyone in the insurance industry work in the energy industry? The questions from executives are valid, but must be directed in a constructive direction to make progress: What level of digital maturity is your company at? What data science methodological know-how do you need today? Which personality traits such as learning ability are decisive for the employee to be successful? Your job advertisement can only perform if you have created this clarity and communicate it in the job advertisements.

Recruiters experiment in order to generate relevant knowledge and thus achieve competitive advantages
Several studies show that minimal changes in job advertisements have a relatively large impact. You can carry out A/B tests and find out which content increases the number of suitable applications. The number of applications is not a relevant quality criterion. In addition, there are estimates that over 30% of applicants rejected on the basis of application documents would be suitable for the job. I often hear this objection: Time is too short to examine so many applications individually. I maintain that this investment is worthwhile in increasingly narrow markets. You can only find out if you carry out experiments. We recommend starting with a small project after the cycle: Do -> Measure -> Learn. And then to turn bigger wheels.

3. Closing: executives commission an employment contract, recruiters explore the market and coach the executive
You receive a message: The manager has decided on an applicant, but unfortunately you were unable to attend the last interview with the applicant. You should draw up an employment contract and send it to the applicant. You have assumed that all the data has been clarified with the applicant. Unfortunately it turns out: They were not. The applicant contacts you. His salary request is not reflected in the contract and the candidate has further doubts. Unfortunately, there is also the end of the month, so that time is running out and the applicant is very unlikely to resign this month. My conclusion: The costs incurred by poor communication are irresponsible.

Recruiter find the nerve of the candidate and derive measures
Even today, after 10 years of HR experience, it is incomprehensible to me that a candidate has a completed employment contract in his mailbox without prior joint agreement on the key data and without a commitment. No good salesperson would come up with the idea of sending a written offer to a client without exploring his chances of success as far as possible. Make yourself aware: The manager wants a quick conclusion, the candidate has in most cases several offers AND his current job! The competition is here: Listen to the candidate. Which topic drives the candidate away? A human tone, the salary or the career perspective?

In an interview, my former supervisor had told an applicant that he had hired me as a pregnant woman. He had hit the nerve of the candidate who was looking for a company with a family-friendly atmosphere. The applicant had two more offers and chose this employer because of this story.

4. Retention: Employees leave managers, recruiters find patterns and develop solutions
HR and managers have the task of finding out together what drives the employees: A data scientist wants to work harder on data modeling, not data management, to make it more effective for the organization. A data engineer would like to go abroad for a few months for personal reasons and would like to continue working full time and remain employed. These are just a few examples of flexibility and signs of a new world of work.

The next steps are actually simple: to examine ideas, are they economically sensible and feasible? What are the hurdles? It is often the personality of a supervisor that decides whether employees stay. It therefore depends on the leadership quality, creativity and flexibility of individuals whether companies survive. Recruiters can analyze these individual cases: What are the drivers for employee retention? And then turn the big wheel.

5. Referral: Good employees are magnets for further good employees
“To everyone who has, will be given more.” The more satisfied your employees are, the more likely it is that you will be recommended as an employer. If you do not currently have any data on recommendations, the first step is to turn a small wheel: Start the survey in a department: Who works here on the basis of a recommendation? If you come to the conclusion that there are no recommendations, research the causes first. Then you can plan further actions.


A canvas gives you tools to drive your success. You will be able to filter out the drivers that are decisive for success from a large amount of data and focus more on them. But: You cannot measure everything that is important: Poor leadership is still the most common reason for termination. Use your resources consciously.

Would you like more information? Contact us by e-mail or give us a call: +49.89.6939.6173.

You can download the Recruiting Canvas from Digital Driver in PDF format here.