Data Profiling May Change Recruitment Permanently: But for Better or Worse?

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Recruitment candidates’ data has never been more accessible. As traditional methods for finding a new job dwindle, the popularity for quicker, smarter solutions for finding your next role only continues to grow. Websites such as Jobsite, Reed, Monster, Milkround and of course LinkedIn have accelerated the rate at which recruiters and employers have gained access to an unprecedented level of data.

At one time – not even so long ago – copious phone calls, emails, advertisements and letters (yes, letters!) were required in order to build a database of candidates large enough to be worthwhile. The problem then was keeping this up to date! Thankfully, today that’s so much easier. Using data profiling software to source data from the wide variety of career based sites out there has led to recruiters now possessing in-depth, frequently updated databases of candidates looking for a career move.

And that’s great – but has this development benefitted the candidate, or simply caused them more problems?

The pros of data profiling:

In theory, candidates shouldn’t be contacted by recruiters about irrelevant roles too often, assuming they have provided sufficient data in one way or another. In theory.

Of course, broadcasting such a rich level of information about yourself can automatically qualify you for consideration for suitable opportunities, and saves you the legwork. The data available to recruiters and employers provides them with a greater ability to match your knowledge, experience and skillset with appropriate roles.

Let’s not forget that even having the opportunity to be able to offer recruitment agencies and potential employers a vast amount of information about yourself up front is a fantastic opportunity in itself. Do it right, and you can create an excellent first impression with a wide number of organisations, which can open the right doors for you – all from one single endeavour.

The cons of data profiling:

The most blatant drawback of data profiling is of course the data privacy issues it creates. From a legal standpoint, data profiling as a general practice – which has been around for a good few years now – is of course compliant with the UK Data Protection Act 1998. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t concerns.

Providing one website with your details does not necessarily mean that those details will remain only with that one organisation. And that’s not clear to many individuals, which is a problem that might become of greater concern.

There’s also the issue that candidates’ data may be taken from sources that the candidate does not know are used as sources for data profiling software.

It’s worth mentioning that data profiling isn’t perfect either. Algorithms and human errors – and this is of course dependent on the software at hand – can cause problems with the successful matching of candidates to relevant jobs.

Good and bad?

It certainly seems so.

You also have to remember that in addition to the above, there are some aspects of data profiling which have influenced recruitment in some way, but it’s debatable whether this is an overall positive or negative.

Take websites like Adzuna for example – they offer a CV valuation service which allow candidates (and employers) to establish just how much a certain position or individual is worth in financial measures.

But does this kind of service aid candidates or hinder them?

One thing is for certain: the marketplace is becoming more and more transparent, and in my mind I have no doubt that this is a positive development for employers and recruiters alike. I’m not sure that I can categorically say the same for candidates though.

So, data profiling, for better or for worse?

There are obvious concerns with the amount of sensitive data made publicly available when recruiters and employers opt to find candidates using data profiling.

As discussed earlier, there are a number of standout benefits to this method of recruitment too though – notably better matching of candidates to suitable roles, and in general creating a more accurate, speedier solution for candidates to get shortlisted for jobs they want.

Clearly, recruitment has changed significantly in the past decade, and it will continue to evolve as technology such as data profiling allows recruiters like ourselves to make hiring as tailored as possible for all parties.

But are we going down the right path?

As things stand, it’s likely that the level of data available on individuals (and companies) is only going to increase, along with the effectiveness of mining that data.

The purpose of this post has been to bring that probable reality to light, and ask whether we think the public’s attitudes towards data profiling will remain somewhat ambivalent (especially when searching for a job) or whether concerns about data privacy will become more significant.

If the latter, will governmental legislation become considerably tighter around the use of data in sectors such as recruitment? How likely is that, and what would the consequences of that be?

Perhaps those are questions for another post, but in the meantime I’d love to hear about your opinion either in the comments below, on social media or in person at the event.

Richard Herring – Richard is Managing Director / Senior Vice President in Europe and Asia for VOLT, a Global Recruitment Organisation. He is a panellist at the Job Board Summit Europe 2016.

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