Data hygiene and staffing: Why it’s crucial to clean your data
The staffing industry has been undergoing a digital transformation over the past few years, adding technologies that help recruiters access candidates more efficiently and effectively than ever before. But digital tools are only as good as the data they use. If you’re currently upgrading your ATS platform or implementing new candidate engagement workflows, now is a great time to clean up your data.
What is data hygiene?
Data hygiene refers to how “clean” your data is—or basically, how many errors are in the data. Errors are introduced in a variety of ways. A salesperson or recruiter might be rushing to get a candidate uploaded to a system and type 111-111-1111 as their phone number, for instance. “They type in anything they need to get that record uploaded, and if they never hire them, they forget about it,” says Danny Ashraf, Monster’s director of sales. But six months later, if there’s another job open, there won’t be an accurate phone number in the system for that candidate.
It also happens that candidates move or change jobs or change their contact information. “People change their cell phone numbers every two to three years, they change their email address every five to six years,” Ashraf says. “Presidents and leaders of organizations probably think their data is pretty good, but it’s not.”
What is data hygiene so important?
For one thing, companies invest a great deal of money into HR technology, and there’s a great deal of emphasis on artificial intelligence and the candidate experience. But those systems are built on data, and if the data is riddled with errors, the technology won’t work as well.
“All that automation that happens further downstream doesn’t mean anything if you don’t start with accurate information,” Ashraf says. “Companies only think about cleaning up their data when they’re migrating systems.”
It’s also a big waste of time for recruiters, who will spend time chasing candidates who are low probability hires. “It will detract from where they should be spending their time—with high probability candidates,” says Cabot Jaffee, president and CEO of AlignMark, a company that offers hiring and recruiting tools. “The increased costs are staggering.”
Aside from an expensive system that doesn’t work efficiently, data errors can also hurt your company reputation. If you’re sending irrelevant emails, texts and voicemails to candidates, you look like a company that doesn’t have its act together.
What can companies do about their data?
This can be a big problem to tackle, and there are a few ways in which companies can approach it:
- Engage candidates at the start: Companies sometimes ask candidates for email addresses and phone numbers early in the recruiting process, and if a job applicant isn’t fully invested, they might not input their real information. “Candidates want information on whether they are a fit for the company, the job, before providing too much information,” Jaffee says.Improving this means writing better job descriptions and interacting with candidates more strategically before asking them for information. “A company that engages and provides the employee value proposition from second one in the application recruiting process will gather many more ‘real’ email addresses and phone numbers,” Jaffee says. “Candidates expect good information before providing their information.”
- Streamline your data collection: How many different ways are there for information to enter the system? Do candidates fill out web forms? Do recruiters enter information into a database? What happens with in-person applications? To the extent possible, make sure your data gathering systems work together, ask the same questions, and use the same fields for answers. It’s also helpful to use systems that work well together.
- Check with candidates regularly: “We are constantly notifying candidates about open jobs, market data and salary surveys,” says David Moise, president of IT recruiting firm Decide Consulting. “When we get a bounced email, that triggers us that the candidate may have switched jobs. We run reports on people who may have switched jobs, and depending on who they are, the recruiter may reach out to them.”
- Audit your data: You can do this by hand or hire a company to help you do this. Monster, for instance, can conduct a free audit of a company’s data and determine how many of the candidates in the company’s database they can provide updated information for.“For instance, they can send us all the email addresses in their system and we tell them that out of 1 million addresses, we have 60 percent of the candidates in our system and we can update 50 percent of them with newer records,” Ashraf says. “We go through this as an auditing experiment. Sometimes we find that out of one million resumes, we can only update 500 of them, so we aren’t a good fit.”
Ask for guidance on data hygiene solutions
As tech becomes a larger part of staffing and recruiting, data hygiene will become an increasingly important issue. If you aren’t sure where to start, an audit of your data might help. Ask about Monster’s staffing solutions and ask about a data hygiene analysis to see if it might be a fit for your company.