5 Ways to Improve Data Hygiene in Your Recruitment Process

Two employees scrutinizing their recruitment data base as they implement data hygiene in their organization.

When it comes to recruiting new talent, speed is usually at the top of the list for employers and recruiters alike. Finding candidates quickly may be important, but it can also be a challenge when you’re working from a database with “dirty” data. This is why a little data hygiene can go a long way.

Dirty data—records with duplicate, outdated, incomplete, inaccurate, or non-compliant data—can sabotage even the most well-planned recruitment strategy, and render top applicant tracking systems (ATS) and database technology virtually useless.

Even if you’re an employer and not in the recruitment business, accurate, well-organized candidate information is important to your hiring efforts. Here are five data management practices that will help you improve hiring efficiency and make the most of your recruitment technology investments.

1. Prioritize Data Fields

Companies still largely rely on manual data entry (including cutting and pasting from one application to another) to populate candidate information into their tracking systems. But this can leave your  data fraught with errors and inconsistencies.

When an employee is in a rush to upload the candidate information so that they can fire off an email or add notes from an initial conversation, for instance, it’s not uncommon to have inaccurate information keyed in to save a few seconds. Just one errant digit in a phone number or email address can result in missed connections and mistaken perceptions about a candidate’s interest.

One data hygiene practice to combat rushed data entry is to prioritize data fields, requiring only the must-have applicant information. The fewer the required or “forced” fields, the less likely it is that employees will populate the database with incomplete or inaccurate candidate information. Fewer required fields will also make your planned database clean-up process more efficient and useful.

2. Get Candidates to Help

Once candidates have an idea of whether they may be a good fit for the company and the job, they’re more likely to provide accurate contact information. Embed clean data practices into this portion of the recruitment process by requiring contact and availability information.

Engage candidates at the start by asking for email addresses and phone numbers early in the recruiting process. If a job applicant isn’t fully invested, they might not input their real information, but you’ll know that early on and can delete the bad data or remove them from your records.

Also, if you’ve crafted a job description that effectively promotes your employer branding, providing candidates with a strong employer value proposition, they’re more likely to provide accurate contact and availability information so they’re notified about future opportunities.

3. Assign Someone to Manage Your Recruitment Data Management Efforts

Although most companies have now adopted a data hygiene strategy, database audits and clean-ups are both largely manual processes. One way to remain committed to this important component of your recruitment process is to assign an employee to the task. If you don’t want to burden a single employee with database clean-up duties, create a monthly or quarterly rotation for the task.

Offering incentives or including data clean-up as part of a line item in an employee’s evaluation will encourage that person to take ownership of the process and ensure that the tracking systems are well maintained.

4. Streamline Your Data Collection Points

How many ways can candidates enter information into your recruitment system? Do candidates fill out web forms? Do recruiters enter information into a database? What happens with in-person applications or paper applications mailed to the office?

To the extent possible, make sure your data-gathering systems work together, ask the same questions, and use the same fields for answers. Be sure to input data from paper applications into your database. It’s also helpful to use systems that work well together.

5. Create a Data Hygiene Plan

Keeping recruitment data clean probably doesn’t stand out as a top organizational priority. However, committing to the tasks on a straightforward plan can save countless hours and help avoid unnecessary frustration when it’s time to find new hires. Having a written plan also helps maintain continuity when your company experiences turnover.

The plan can be as simple as sending a monthly email to contacts in your ATS or another contact database with all the current job openings. From there, run a report of all bounced emails and unsubscribes, making sure that the appropriate person receives the results so that they can update those records.

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