small__4416036998An emerging field called work-force science is flipping the script on what we think we know about candidate predictors. Work-force science is best described in a NY Times article: “It adds a large dose of data analysis, a k a Big Data, to the field of human resource management, which has traditionally relied heavily on gut feel and established practice to guide hiring, promotion and career planning.”

Recruiters have a lot of universally accepted rules and standards in place when it comes to best hiring practices. Thou shall not hire job-jumpers. Thou shall not hire those unemployed for longer than 6 months. Thou shall not hire the inexperienced, and so on and so forth. This new science is debunking all of that. The data coming from these work-force studies on candidate predictors is actually showing that our long held belief of using a candidate’s past as the main predictor is way off.

Recruiters now use pretty old school tools in comparison with what this research can predict. Everything we do online leaves a footprint. Every click, how long we stay on a page, what pages we visit and how often, every comment and social media share is recorded. All of this information put together, organized and studied is what we call big data. There are mountains of data for each and every one of us, the issue has been, collecting and organizing that data to render it useful. For recruiting purposes, the goal is to create candidate profiles and then compare them to scientifically sound predictors to find the right person for the right job.

Each field, based on little research, has determined the characteristics that they look for in key candidates. For instance, for a long while, having an outgoing personality has been considered to be the defining characteristic of a good sales person. Work-force data indicates that this is not so. According to studies and tests from millions of workers, it has been concluded that the most important characteristic for sales success is emotional courage and persistence. They found that the people who can keep hearing no and continue with their job are the ones who succeed in sales. This specific trait was not necessarily tied to an outgoing personality either.

These such studies were done in several fields, proving previous notions of important candidate characteristics to be false. Using SAT scores and first impressions to evaluate candidates may just be a thing of the past. This new push toward making hiring a science rather than a subject stab in the dark is catching on quickly in big companies across the world. Evolv is a recruiting solutions company that uses work-force science to, “Remove guesswork from your workforce.” Their managing director of analytics, Michael Housman, said he believe that, “Work-force science will increasingly be applied across the spectrum of jobs and professions, building profits, productivity, innovation and worker satisfaction.”

The study of big data is affecting recruiting in a big way. Going with your gut and placing an importance on scientifically unproven predictors might end up leaving some companies in the dust. More and more organizations are turning toward science for improvements across the board, and recruiting is the perfect place to utilize this data.

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photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

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