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Gotta getta data: What you don’t know can hurt you

dataHow much do you know about your clients, as in data? I mean, really know? I was recently reading an article about Larry Smarr and his attempts to completely document himself and his health. He carries it to an extreme that no one you know currently does (well, perhaps John Sumser!) – but Smarr sees it as the future of medicine. We’re talking the measurement and analysis of excrement, imaging of internal organs, intense monitoring of multiple organ functions, and so on. It paid off for him. He thinks it would do the same for others.

Which brings us to your knowledge – or lack thereof – regarding your candidates and employers. One of the initial questions I ask my own clients is, ‘what do you know? Give me the data.’ And – quite honestly – a lot of time, there isn’t much information. Maybe a few surveys, or some anecdotal conversations. Maybe a marketing company swooped in and did ‘focus groups’. But often, we’re running blind. You don’t have to go to the granular level of Smarr – but you could, and you might be surprised with what you find.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some thoughts about what you can and should know about your candidates and employers (yes, both groups!).

  1. Demographics: This should be easy, right? For candidates, we’re talking location, education, job title, skills, (possibly) age, and goals. For employers, we’re talking number of employees, number of offices, industry, specialty, and location(s). This type of information can be collected continuously (via profiles, resumes, and so on) or periodically (via statistically valid surveys). Either way, this is baseline stuff you need in order to understand who is using your services.
  2. Behavior: We are in the business of digitally based recruitment marketing. That theoretically means we should be able to track the candidate’s path from finding a site or service, through the search and discovery process, to the act of applying (and possibly beyond). The candidate’s activity produces a lot of data – which on its own isn’t particularly useful, but in aggregate can be very helpful in learning what works and what doesn’t. It’s exactly this kind of data that companies like Textio use to determine what works in job ads – and what doesn’t. Maybe you don’t have high-powered programmers on staff that can break down your data. Guess what? You can hire that out! The same goes for the employer side of the fence. Employers are people too – which means their behavior, from discovery to purchase to hiring can be documented. A good place to start for both candidates and employers is to simply document each step of the process as you currently understand it for your audience – and then validate your assumptions. Are you right? Are there missing steps? And which are the most important steps?
  3. Inflection points: Ok, this is my term. You may have a different one. Basically, what are the one or two or three things that are most critical in the candidate or employer journey? I’m talking about the ones that ripple through the entire process, the ones that can make the difference between a candidate application – or a lost candidate; an employer renewal – or an employer dismissal. If you don’t know which bits of information are most important, you are doomed to sub-optimization.

It’s easy to get drowned in information. Going through the above helps you determine what is and isn’t important – and also helps you identify when things change. Because – I promise you – what is important today may well be unimportant in a few months. Not gathering the information? Well, that’s just a recipe for disaster – I can promise you.

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