Recognizing Talent: How Data Helps Companies Identify Future Leaders

Which of your current employees are most likely to become outstanding future leaders?

While many human resources professionals and executives pride themselves on spotting potential leadership talent, fewer can list the criteria they use to make their decisions, Stacey Philpot and Kelly Monahan write in the MIT Sloan Management Review.

Instead, intuition often leads decisions about leadership. Unconscious biases and the halo effect — assuming skill at one task will translate to skill at another — can cause potential leaders to get overlooked while resources are spent on employees without the skill or drive to lead, Philpot and Monahan say.

Only 10 percent of people possess the talent to be good leaders, says Amy Adkins at Gallup. Fortunately, data can help recruiters and HR professionals identify this 10 percent and invest in their development.

The Top Traits of Future Leaders

Companies hire someone with the wrong talent for the role 82 percent of the time, Randall Beck and Jim Harter, Ph.D. write at Gallup. Leadership choices aren’t immune. While people with the potential for good leadership exist in every organization, Beck and Harter say, those people can be overlooked by recruiters and hiring managers who don’t understand what it takes to lead well within their organization’s culture.

Personality analysis isn’t always the best way to spot leadership potential because it won’t tell you why or how a person comes to a particular decision. Data, however, can be used to identify some of the key traits that indicate leadership potential.  

Applied Performance

While organizations frequently begin their leadership searches with their most productive employees, performance alone is at best a starting point, says researcher Andrea Tredrea of Novia University of Applied Sciences in Finland.

Instead, examine how your most skilled staff members apply what they know, Beth Kuhel writes at Forbes. For instance, an employee who takes the time to teach others on staff what they know about the company’s products or processes demonstrates a willingness to teach and build relationships, two qualities of a potential leader. Employees who bring in skills that aren’t in their job description, like their knowledge of foreign languages or web development, also demonstrate initiative, another trait shared by top leaders.

Orientation to Change

Change keeps a relentless pace. That’s why the ability to embrace change is a key trait for leaders, says Vaya Group consultant Tiffany Hiscock.

To spot people who possess the ability to adapt, choose metrics that track employees’ responses to change. For instance, tracking employee performance after their start dates and when they have changed positions within the company can help recruiters and managers determine how that employee has adapted to new responsibilities.


Measuring an employee’s aspiration is not simple. But by tracking employee participation in training and development, managers and recruiters can spot those who are particularly eager to develop their skills, says Darleen DeRosa, managing partner at OnPoint Consulting.

A carefully designed program for gathering data may even be able to determine which skills or levels of rigor the employee practiced during a particular training or development event, providing further insight into the employee’s commitment to learning and growth — an essential trait for leaders.

Multi-Metric Performance

Spotting employees with leadership potential means measuring their abilities across several different metrics, say researchers Saima Ahmad-Khan, Julie Atkinson and Bev Bryant. For instance, an employee may show extraordinary communication abilities but flounder when learning new skills, or may hold themselves rigidly accountable for results but fail to adapt to changing circumstances.

The more variables added to the search for potential leaders, the more complex the search can become. Here, tech tools that perform data analysis can help managers and recruiters understand an employee’s performance over multiple metrics, allowing for a more comprehensive picture of the employee’s potential.

a meeting of future leaders around a conference table

Tools for Spotting High-Potential Employees

You know you need to find and nurture your leaders more effectively, and you’re committed to changing your approach to hiring in order to do so. But where do you start?

“The best way to overcome these challenges and to find your talent is to combine internal and external methodologies,” says Jenny Straumers at HRZone. A method that combines clearly defined measurements and data analysis with practical application can help you find and cultivate the right people to lead your organization into the future.

Success Profiles

What does success look like in each leadership position? By analyzing available data from past and current employees and their performances, organizations can build a profile of the skills, actions and accomplishments that contribute to success, DeRosa writes at the On Point Consulting blog. By including input from those who hold these positions and those they lead, organizations can also understand how the patterns identified by data analysis are applied to create concrete, productive results.

Leadership Planning Models

Your data can help you spot patterns in your current employees’ skills and experience, and it can tell you which gaps you need to fill today. Through the use of predictive modeling, your data can also help you predict future needs — including the need for more leaders.

“Leadership planning models enable HR to create data-driven projections for the quantity of leaders needed, the skills they will require, and where they will be located,” researchers Evan Sinar, Rebecca L. Ray and Adam L. Canwell write in the Harvard Business Review.

The researchers found companies that employ best practices in using data to recruit and hire are more than six times more likely to have outstanding leaders. They’re also likely to have 50 percent more revenue growth than their less data-minded competitors.

Data-Focused Culture

To harness data for success in any business endeavor, including leadership growth, companies will need to incorporate data analysis and comprehension into their daily operations, executive coach Theodore Henderson writes at Forbes.

By teaching human resources staff to consider the data, a company creates an orientation to facts and strategies that can help recruiters and managers spot potential leadership more quickly.

business give advice to a future leader

Nurturing Your Future Leaders’ Potential

Data analytics can identify patterns and trends in your top leaders, illuminating which of your employees shares their potential. Once identified, these team members can also leverage data to cultivate their innate talents.

Righting the Value Balance

Often, an organization’s best potential leaders are the employees who are currently undervalued because they don’t self-promote, says Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychology at University College London and vice president of research and innovation at Hogan Assessments. These employees may be curious, highly skilled and possessed of strong emotional intelligence, but they stick to their work rather than standing out.

“Your undervalued employees are those people whose values are perfectly aligned with your company’s culture, which means they have higher tolerance levels for staying in the job even when they are disengaged or they feel undervalued,” says Chamorro-Premuzic.

Data can help you spot these individuals. It can also help you see where they may be disengaged or undervalued, allowing you to reach out to them, tap into their passions and cultivate their leadership abilities.

Turning High Potential Into High Results

High potential (HiPo) programs seek to identify workers with the potential to succeed above and beyond their peers. These programs are increasingly popular, but they’re not always successful. Only 24 percent of senior executives believe their organization’s high potential programs deliver strong results, say Claudio Fernandez-Araoz and fellow researchers in the Harvard Business Review.

Using data to drive HiPo programs can turn these programs into spaces for cultivating identified potential leadership talent. By relying on data, current leadership can see how potential leaders respond to training and information tailored to their personal strengths and weaknesses. The program becomes not only a way to cultivate leadership talent, but to examine and correct its own mistakes in identifying potential leaders.

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Want Better Recruiting? Add These 23 Recruitment Leaders to Your Feed

Twitter’s fast-paced, of-the-moment approach makes it a great way to keep up with the news and influencers in the recruitment and hiring fields. By following recruitment professionals on Twitter, hiring managers and recruiters can build connections and stay current on news and tips in recruitment.

To see what’s happening, add these 23 recruitment leaders to your Twitter feed.

Lou Adler

Lou Adler is the CEO and founder of The Adler Group. He’s also the author of Hire With Your Head and The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired. His Twitter feed is full of advice and wisdom from his years of experience in performance-based hiring.

Matt Alder

Matt Alder is a talent acquisition and innovation consultant at Metashift. With Mervyn Dinnen, Alder is the co-author of Exceptional Talent: How to Attract, Acquire and Retain the Very Best Employees. His Twitter feed is a treasure trove of information on recruiting marketing and content marketing, as well as a gateway to Alder’s contributions to GetApp.

Bill Boorman

Bill Boorman is the organizer of the The Recruiting Unconference and a social recruiting expert. His Twitter feed encompasses not only his interests in recruiting and human resources, but also his insights on UK and international politics and their effects on hiring and retention.

Tom Bolt

Tom Bolt is the founder and CEO of Leute Management Services, a human capital management consulting firm. His Twitter feed and his blog both focus on the human aspects of talent acquisition and management, and they offer a human touch of their own: Mixed in with his tweets about recruiting are fascinating facts about Connecticut, his home state.

Ross Clennett

Ross Clennett is an alumnus of Hays, the UK’s largest public recruitment fan. Currently, he works as a recruitment coach in Australia and New Zealand, where he provides professional development and online leadership programs. His Twitter feed is full of the latest recruitment news from around the globe, as well as hints toward his interests in soccer, cricket and tennis.

Yolanda Lee Conyers

Yolanda Lee Conyers is Lenovo’s chief diversity officer and also president of the Lenovo Foundation. “Connecting underserved populations to technology ensures the very diversity we

value and ultimately helps all of humanity move forward,” she emphasizes in the company’s 2017-2018 diversity and inclusion report. “… While we’re in an industry that focuses on selling products, making sure there’s equal access to them is important to us.”

Kevin Green

Kevin Green is chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, which represents the private recruitment industry in the UK. His Twitter feed offers a wealth of information on recruitment events, industry news and the effects of political changes like Brexit on the job market.

Andy Headworth

Andy Headworth is head of recruitment at HM Revenue & Customs in London, as well as the managing director of Sirona Consulting. He’s also the author of Social Media Recruitment: How to Successfully Integrate Social Media Into Recruitment Strategy, an Amazon bestselling book. His Twitter feed attests to his passion for leveraging social media to reach outstanding candidates.

recruitment leaders on twitter

Lisa Jones

Lisa Jones is the co-founder of the recruitment advisory service at Barclay Jones. As a recruitment technology expert with a passion for social hiring, Jones focuses on creating IT and marketing strategies that engage top candidates. Her Twitter feed shares insights related to her work and to the practice of hiring in the modern age.

Ian Knowlson

Ian Knowlson runs Selling Success, a corporate and relationship sales training company. With deep knowledge in training, sales, recruitment and leadership, Knowlson fills his Twitter feed with a vast range of topics, from AI and recruitment technology to leadership. His blog, accessible via Twiter, contains Knowlson’s insights on the future of recruitment.

Jay Kuhns

Jay Kuhns is a vice president at Kinetix, a recruitment process outsourcing firm. He also blogs at NoExcusesHR, and his Twitter feed offers advice on everything from public speaking to how to tackle common challenges in human resources and recruiting.

Jennifer McClure

Jennifer McClure is the president of Unbridled Talent, a coaching and consulting firm. She’s also the CEO of the HR event series DisruptHR. Tune in to McClure’s Twitter feed for advice and insight on leadership, HR and improved recruiting, as well as for updates on McClure’s various speaking appearances and engagements.

Emilie Mecklenborg

Emilie Mecklenborg fills her Twitter feed with advice for companies that seek to leverage their company cultures to find and hire the best candidates. She’s an expert on leveraging the combination of social media and employer brand to help companies attract the best possible candidates for hard-to-fill positions.

Doug Melville

An entrepreneur, speakers and advocate for workplace diversity, Doug Melville is a proponent of disrupting established ways of doing business and challenging ideas of what constitutes fairness in the modern workplace. Melville’s primary role is chief diversity officer at ad agency TBWA.

Jessica Merrell

Jessica Merrell is the founder of Workology. Before launching Workology, Merrell served as an HR and talent acquisition professional with companies like Whole Foods, AT&T, OfficeMax and Home Depot. Her Twitter feed appeals to recruiting professionals and candidates alike with tips on recruitment compliance, HR technology, and how candidates can navigate the hiring process.

recruitment leaders twitter

J.T. O’Donnell

J.T. O’Donnell is the CEO of, which helps job-seekers connect to the right companies for their talents and goals. Her Twitter feed collects blog links, webinars and other valuable information on recruiting, leadership and management. That makes the feed not only a source of O’Donnell’s own wisdom but a curated collection of some of the best recent information on recruiting.

Tim Sackett

Tim Sackett is the president of HRU Technical Resources, an IT and engineering staffing firm. Sackett’s blog is full of practical, concrete tips for employees and HR professionals, including actionable items on office etiquette and professional behavior. On his blog, Sackett digs into heavier topics such as using recruitment to improve a company’s financial performance.

Greg Savage

Greg Savage is the founder of Firebrand Talent Search, People2People and other recruiting firms. He’s also the host of the podcast Sixty Savage Seconds, where he offers straightforward recruiting advice in one-minute-long chunks. His Twitter feed is full of serious and thoughtful advice on social selling alongside lighthearted commentary.

Irina Shamaeva

Irina Shamaeva is a partner and chief sourcer at Brain Gain Recruiting, an executive search firm. She’s also the founder of the People Sourcing Certification Program. Shamaeva gained much of her experience in the biotechnology field, and she shares her wisdom on Twitter by focusing on sourcing best practices, recruitment news and tips on using Boolean search to improve recruitment.

Will Staney

Will Staney is the founder of Proactive Talent, a recruiting strategy consultancy. He’s also the co-founder of the Talent Brand Alliance, which brings together employer branding and recruitment marketing professionals. Staney gained experience as head of recruitment for Glassdoor and in positions with SAP and VMware. His Twitter feed focuses on topics in sourcing, candidate engagement and industry news.

Shally Steckerl

Shally Steckerl has helped companies like Google, Microsoft, Cisco and Motorola build and implement world-class sourcing strategies. As the founder of the Sourcing Institute Foundation, Steckerl seeks to build the next generation of talent sourcing and recruiting professionals by offering grants to help unemployed people, military veterans and people with disabilities find their dream jobs in recruitment.

Jim Stroud

Jim Stroud is VP, Product Evangelist for ClickIQ where he uses data and imagination to attract hires for his clients. He’s also a master of social media himself, maintaining an engaging Twitter feed, a popular blog and is the host of “The Jim Stroud Podcast” where he explores the future of work, life and everything in between.

Brian Tippens

Hewlett-Packard Chief Diversity Officer Brian Tippens has enjoyed a long career at the tech company, where he oversees a variety diversity initiatives — as well as sustainability efforts. Tippens’ Twitter feed is a great place to learn about his company’s own diversity efforts as well as economy-wide wins for workplace inclusivity.

Images by: Marten Bjork, Brooke Cagle

How the Right Technology Can Circumvent Unconscious Hiring Bias

Recruiters and hiring managers seek candidates who offer the skills and experience to perform outstanding work in a given role. Although those managers will work hard to focus on the factors that are relevant to a given position, their own biases can work against them — often, without them even realizing it.

Most recruiters and hiring managers don’t consciously employ their biases when they hire. Many even make a conscious effort to spot their own biases and avoid them. It’s the unconscious nature of certain biases that make them particularly pernicious: They can act to the detriment of hiring even when hiring managers believe they’re working to eliminate them.

Unconscious bias has a well-documented effect on a range of activities, including hiring. Choosing the right tech tools, however, can help hiring managers outsmart their brain’s own hidden agenda.

Unconscious Bias and How It Works

According to Dr. J Renee Navarro, vice chancellor of diversity and outreach at the University of California San Francisco, “Unconscious bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, action or decisions in an unconscious manner.” We aren’t aware we carry these pre-formed ideas about others; instead, those ideas work behind the scenes to influence our behavior in subtle but potentially devastating ways.

Unconscious biases form over time. As our brains are exposed to various pieces of information, they sort that information and seek patterns. A study in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience by Hugo J. Spiers and fellow researchers found that the brain’s anterior temporal lobe plays a key role in tracking and sorting information — and that a person’s impression of other races, genders and ethnic groups is built on the information the brain receives.

The study indicates that media portrayals as well as personal experience play a profound role in how our unconscious biases develop.  

Studies Show the Impact of Unconscious Bias

Because unconscious bias operates outside our everyday awareness, people in positions of authority often don’t realize it affects their behavior. For example, a study of 6,500 university professors by researchers Katherine L. Milkman, Modupe Akinola and Dolly Chugh found that professors were more likely to respond to emails from students with white-sounding names, even when those names made up just a fraction of the total emails professors received.

Why Fight Hiring Bias?

Aside from ethical and compliance reasons, fighting bias in order to diversify hiring has concrete benefits for companies. One study by the nonprofit organization Catalyst found that companies with more women in executive positions had a 34 percent higher shareholder return and a 26 percent higher return on invested capital than companies with less diverse leadership.

“We controlled for industry and company differences and the conclusion was still the same,” says Ilene H. Lang, former president and CEO of Catalyst. “Top-performing companies have a higher representation of women on their leadership teams.”

A study by Vivian Hunt and fellow researchers at McKinsey & Company found a similar effect when leadership contained more members of racial and ethnic minorities. The study found that companies with more of these minorities in leadership were 33 percent more likely to outperform competitors on EBIT margin.

workers representing hiring bias

Tech Tools to Combat Unconscious Hiring Bias

A study by Martin Wood and fellow researchers at the NatCen Department for Work and Pensions in the UK found that job applicants with a white-sounding name were 74 percent more likely to receive a response than applicants with a name that sounded as if it came from an ethnic minority.

Fortunately, technology can help cut down on the effect of these hidden biases when it’s implemented in a thoughtful way.

Automatic Identifier Screening

The NatCen study pinpointed one method for combating unconscious bias: Using a technology platform that automatically anonymizes applications.

The researchers found that applicants’ names were less likely to affect the results when the application was made via the employer’s system than when resumes were collected. The researchers surmised that the system made it easier to screen names from applications, requiring hiring managers to focus on each candidate’s skills and experience.

Predictive Analysis

Technology that employs predictive analysis can also help combat bias by substituting data-based information for human hunches when it comes to choosing people who are likely to perform well in a given role, Lovepreet Dhaliwal writes at The Undercover Recruiter. It does so by analyzing data such as employee performance reviews, resumes and turnover to determine which skills and abilities are most common in each role’s or department’s best performers.

By using predictive analysis, recruiters and hiring managers gather concrete data on which to base their decisions. They no longer have to rely on assumptions, which are frequently affected by unconscious bias.

AI-Based Interviewing

AI-enabled chatbots are making it easier to collect initial information from candidates during screening interviews without allowing unconscious bias to contaminate that information collection process.

For instance, a chatbot can ask questions that focus on certain skills, collect the answers, and analyze them or pass them on to a human recruiter. The humans involved in the hiring process see answers to questions that are relevant to job performance, but they don’t see irrelevant information such as a candidate’s gender, ethnicity or apparent age.

Smarter Assessments

Companies have used skills assessments for decades in order to see candidates’ skills in action. Combining artificial intelligence with these assessments can improve the results and also help companies eliminate bias.

By using smart assessments, companies can focus on what each candidate does best, says Dean Takahashi at VentureBeat. They can also help collect the data necessary for hiring managers and recruiters to spot patterns in their top performers.  

office workers representing hiring bias

Using Technology to Fight Hiring Bias

Buzz about artificial intelligence, machine learning, predictive analytics and similar tools has filled the business world in recent years. These technologies aren’t a magical, one-size-fits-all solution to every hiring problem, though. Instead, companies must consider how those tool will be incorporated into their specific hiring processes, internal cultures and end goals.

Seek Options That Multitask

A technology platform that helps reduce or eliminate hiring bias can improve candidate quality and diversity. When used correctly, it can also help identify patterns that lead to a better candidate fit and thus reduce turnover, says Natalie Pierce, co-chair of the robotics, AI and automation industry group at Littler Mendelson.

Because artificial intelligence and machine learning are excellent at recognizing patterns, they can be used to generate analyses of hiring data, as well. Human resources staff, recruiters and hiring managers can use the data to understand what types of hires do best in certain positions and to tailor their job descriptions and employment branding accordingly.

Use What You’ve Built

Hiring more qualified and diverse candidates is the first step to building stronger teams, but it isn’t the only essential step, Laura Berger writes at Forbes. “The rest of the answer lies in facilitating inclusiveness whereby everyone is valued and group differences are embraced,” she says.”

“The result is empowered employees who openly share their diverse perspectives: a win for the company.”

Images by: HONGQI ZHANG/©, Mikko Lemola/©, Dmitriy Shironosov/©

What Metrics Predict Candidate Success?

Recruiting is often a numbers game, and the numbers aren’t always promising for employers. For instance, the average cost to hire one employee ranges from $4,000 to $7,645, depending on the types of companies studied, says Aleks Peterson at Glassdoor.

Companies average six weeks to fill a position, says Peterson, during which time productivity is down. If the goal is to replace someone in an existing position rather than to fill a newly-created position, the costs can be even higher: 50 percent of annual salary for an entry-level worker, 125 percent of salary for a mid-level worker and up to 250 percent of salary for an executive, says Bill Conerly at Forbes.

Your people are valuable, and losing them can be costly. In a data-driven world, recruiters and hiring managers can track dozens or even hundreds of variables related to job candidates. But which of these numbers shed light on success — and which ones just clutter up your recordkeeping?

What Are Recruiting Metrics and Why Track Them?

Tracking metrics that are relevant to your company’s hiring goals can help companies better understand and improve their hiring processes, says Erik van Vulpen, founder of the Analytics in HR blog.

Because hiring is a human-centered process, recruiters and hiring managers can struggle to think about their work in quantitative terms, says Archana Jerath at the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). Yet doing so can bring immense value to the hiring process.

For instance, research indicates that a 5-percent increase in employee engagement translates to a 3-percent growth in company revenue, Meghan M. Biro writes at Forbes. Improved engagement can also reduce turnover, thereby lowering the cost of recruitment.

Metrics can be used to understand why certain candidates succeed, who is most likely to accept a job offer and what characteristics help employees do well within the organization. They can also help companies speed up the hiring process in order to keep top candidates engaged and reduce the costs of unfilled positions.

Curious About Candidate Success? Track These 6 Candidate Success Metrics

Several metrics have proven themselves as valuable when it comes to understanding why and how candidates succeed on the job. To build a candidate success profile based on available data, keep these elements in mind:

Time to Fill and Time to Hire

While these sound similar, time to fill and time to hire focus on two separate questions:

  • Time to fill measures the time between the moment the company realizes it needs a new employee and that new employee’s start date.
  • Time to hire measures the time between the moment a particular candidate first contacts the company and their start date.

Time to fill helps companies determine whether they’re moving quickly enough to address their staffing needs. A long time to fill indicates that the hiring team may not be planning or sourcing candidates effectively, or that attempts to reach out to qualified candidates are failing.

Cost Per Hire

Cost per hire remains one of the most popular and helpful human resources metrics, says Jenna Puckett at Technology Advice. This metric is calculated by adding together the costs of internal and external hiring efforts, then dividing that sum by your total number of hires.

Cost per hire helps companies determine whether their recruitment spending is realistic for the company’s budget, size, industry and location, Puckett says. When combined with other factors, it can also help a company measure the value of certain hiring decisions: High-quality hires for a relatively low cost per hire offer tremendous value.  

Time to Productivity

Once a new hire arrives for their first day of work, how long does it take for that person to reach an expected level of productivity on the job?

All jobs have learning curves. Tracking time to productivity helps a company understand how effective its onboarding processes are, says Michael Schneider, human capital specialist at Welltower. When combined with other metrics, time to productivity can also help recruiters and hiring managers spot patterns in the quality of the recruiting process and in candidate preparedness.


Employees can’t succeed with a company if they don’t stay at the company. That’s why turnover is one of the central metrics to understanding employee success.

It’s valuable to track voluntary and involuntary turnovers separately, the team at Friday Feedback says. Involuntary turnover based on disciplinary dismissals are particularly valuable, since they can help companies spot mistakes in the hiring process or in internal processes and procedures.

Tracking voluntary separation can be helpful, too: Understanding why an employee chooses to leave can reveal why the employee was a poor fit for the company and how the hiring process can help spot similar poor fits in the future.

Quality of Hire

How well are your new hires doing on the job? To measure success by more than just longevity, take a look at quality of hire.

Like ratios, quality of hire isn’t always a single metric. Rather, it is often “a collection of data points that are indicative of a successful hire,” says Sushman Biswas, associate editor at HR Technologist. To reduce this collection down to a single number, Biswas says, divide the sum of the selected data points by the number of selected data points.

One way to make the numbers more manageable is to use a rubric to evaluate employee performance, says Jennifer Ritter at Digitec Interactive. The rubric allows managers to assign a point value to key tasks, making it easier to quantify the quality of an employee’s work and to compare their performance over the past year with that of other employees.  

Chart on a tablet depicting candidate success metrics

The Future of Candidate Success Metrics

Currently, recruiters and hiring managers use metrics to understand and influence human behavior. They shed light on human candidates, suggest human responses to problems and provide support for proposals and funding requests provided to humans.

Artificial intelligence may soon introduce a non-human element to the analysis of hiring metrics. For instance, advances in pattern-matching technology have made it possible for AI to more accurately predict whether a new hire will stay in the job longer than a year, Terena Bell writes at CIO.

AI may also be able to track metrics that influence human staff members, but that aren’t currently tracked by most companies. A study by researchers Sarah Kathryn Stein, Amir Goldberg and Sameer B. Srivastava found that candidates were more likely to be hired when their written answers to interview questions used language that matched that used by previously hired employees. While the average recruiter or hiring manager may not notice the pattern, AI can. By doing so, the software can alert its users to patterns they can track for better hiring.

While Bell notes that the AI can’t predict the specific day an employee will quit, rapid advances in technology have made it possible for recruiters and hiring managers to track and analyze metrics based on ever-expanding datasets.

As these tools continue to develop, so will the ways in which recruiting teams can examine and compare various metrics — all of which can help improve the hiring process.

Images by: Konstantin Chagin/©, sheeler/©, Dmitriy Shironosov/©

Intelligent Hiring: How AI is Transforming the Ways We Hire

Artificial intelligence is already changing the way companies hire. About one-third of companies worldwide are already using intelligent hiring tools to improve their hiring practices, Deloitte researchers Michael Stephan, David Brown and Robin Erickson write.

AI-powered tools help recruiters and hiring managers find patterns in past hires and current candidates. By doing so, they improve their understanding of success within a particular position, says Jacob Zabkowicz, vice president and general manager of North American RPO at Korn Ferry. It also helps them pinpoint the qualities that make that success possible.

For example, says Zabkowicz, “In a search for a global automotive maker, we discovered that in one country there was a significant movement of executives from the luxury goods sector to the automotive sector – a relationship that wouldn’t have been obvious without AI.” Spotting these types of relationships can help companies zero in on the best places to find top candidates.

The potential applications of intelligent hiring are vast. But the results boil down to greater efficiencies in familiar places: in time, in money and in performance.

Save Time and Avoid Manual Tasks

Perhaps the most time-consuming task in hiring is to sift through hundreds of potential candidates in order to choose the handful that offer the most promise for the job, says Tracy Repchuk, founder of InnerSurf International.

Incorporating artificial intelligence into the hiring process frees up staff time in two ways. First, it reduces the time required to search through applicant pools and process resumes. Second, it assigns the remaining time required to a computer, allowing human staff members to focus on higher-value tasks, says Mike Dachenhaus at Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech.

“To me, a revolution is getting the one resource that can’t be recovered, and that is time,” says Repchuk.

Pass On Time-Consuming Tasks

Currently, recruiters estimate that they lose 14 hours a week to manually completing tasks they believe could be automated, says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. Creators of intelligent hiring tools have sought to reduce these lost hours by focusing on routine, pattern-driven tasks, like matching resumes to job descriptions.

As intelligent hiring improves, it may help recruiters and human resources professionals save time in other areas, as well. For instance, at the 27th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, a research team led by Dazhong Shen discussed its work on artificial intelligence that could “effectively learn the representative perspectives of different job interview processes from the successful job interview records in history.”

A tool that can learn from a company’s ever-growing set of hiring data could help interviewers save time in a number of ways. For instance, the system could recommend effective interview questions and provide samples of past answers that indicate a higher likelihood of success with the company. Interviewers, in turn, could focus their attention on honing their in-person interviewing skills rather than planning questions.

That tool could also create targeted job ads and help hiring managers choose the right audiences for each ad, thereby attracting a better pool of candidates.

The Value of Free Time

When recruiters and hiring managers have more time in their workdays, their focus can shift to relationship-building.

“Human connections are, and will always be, a critical component to retaining top employees,” says Adrienne Tom, founder of Career Impressions. To keep your best people, pass the tasks of sorting through applicants’ resumes to an AI-enabled system, and focus on connecting with the employees your company most needs to retain.

applicant preparing, representing intelligent hiring

Save Money By Making Better Hires

Much of the conversation surrounding artificial intelligence and the workforce focuses on ways in which AI makes certain jobs obsolete. Yet as Satya Ramaswamy notes in the Harvard Business Review, there are multiple ways to use intelligent hiring to save money without putting recruiters or human resources staff members out of a job.

Save the Costs of Turnover

The cost of replacing a poor hire can be surprisingly high. That’s because a person who is a poor fit can cause a ripple effect that reduces productivity on other teams, further draining the company’s resources.

Each hire, good or bad, generates a significant amount of information that can be analyzed and compared to the hire’s performance on the job in order to improve future hiring decisions, says Rudina Seseri, founder and managing partner of Glasswing Ventures. In the past, however, this data was rarely collected. When it was collected and used to inform hiring decisions, the data used was often fragmentary and retrieved from the memories and experience of the staff involved in hiring, rather than analyzed in a systematic way.

Intelligent hiring systems can collect and analyze this information, providing a view of the company’s hiring history and pointing out the commonalities shared by the organization’s highest-performing veterans. Having this information makes it easier to choose new hires with similar characteristics.

Improve Team Efficiency

Workers spend more time behind their desks than they did 20 years ago, says Josh Bersin, yet productivity has remained flat in recent years. Organizational hierarchies of the past haven’t kept up with the way people are hired or the work they’re expected to do, Bersin says. This leads to confusion and burnout as staff struggle to perform within a structure that no longer supports the results they’re tasked with achieving.

Intelligent hiring not only changes the way hiring itself occurs but also impacts the way teams are built and function together. When hiring systems have the data necessary to assess for factors like cultural fit or suitability for particular projects, the entire organization can become more nimble.


Build a Competitive Advantage

The idea that good people make successful businesses is self-apparent to many organizations, but the task of finding the right people to build and maintain a competitive advantage is a complex one. Intelligent hiring can help in several ways.

Predict Performance

Many hiring managers choose interview questions, schedule testing or ask for portfolios in search of the answer to a single question: How can we predict each candidate’s performance?

One answer is to use artificial intelligence to analyze data and identify patterns, says Chris Nicholson, co-founder and CEO of Skymind. “The smartest recruiters and hiring managers would start gathering resumes, performance reviews, work product, any information at all about highly successful people that already work for them and plug that into an algorithm to figure out what you are looking for,” Nicholson says. The patterns that emerge can be used as a guide to choosing new hires.

Leverage the Power of Diversity

Diverse hiring makes good business sense. A study by McKinsey & Company researchers, led by Vivian Hunt and published in January 2018, found that increased diversity in the executive suite is correlated with above-average profitability, while increased uniformity among executives is correlated with below-average profitability.

Even when humans commit to recruiting more diverse talent, however, unconscious biases can still complicate the situation, says Brian Reaves, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Dell. “Even with the best intentions, hiring decisions can still be influenced by personal factors we may not even be aware of.”

When employed thoughtfully, intelligent hiring platforms can help reduce the effect of unconscious bias. We will explore this in much more detail in an upcoming post.

computer chip with a businessman logo on it representing intelligent hiring

Putting Intelligent Hiring to Work

The thought of putting computers in charge of a relationship-intensive field like human resources or recruiting leaves some professionals feeling wary. Can AI really improve hiring if candidates are communicating with an impersonal piece of software rather than another person?

The way to address these concerns, says Raj Mukherjee at Indeed, is to treat intelligent hiring as a tool to support human resources and recruiting professionals, not as a replacement for their skills or expertise.

By handing repetitive and time-consuming tasks to the technology, these professionals become better able to focus on building and maintaining the types of relationships humans only have with other humans.

Treating intelligent hiring as a tool also helps allay concerns in other areas of performance, such as preventing bias.

For the time being, it appears that intelligent hiring will need the guidance and intervention of human professionals. When used to supplement professionals’ decisions, however, the software doesn’t merely improve a business’s bottom line — it also improves the way humans connect to one another.

Images by: Tyler Nix, Wavebreak Media Ltd/©, Weerapat Kiatdumrong/©

Bring Accountability to Diversity & Inclusion Programs with Diversity Analytics

Research shows that a diverse workforce results in improved creativity and better outcomes. Companies that rank highly for ethnic and cultural diversity are one-third more likely to have high profitability. Organizations that prioritize D&I are far more innovation, collaborative, and responsive to customers. One study found that the most diverse organizations scale to 15 times the sales revenue of companies with the least diversity.

So diversity matters. Do you know if your company is one of the strong performers in this critical area?

To be a top-performing organization reaping the benefits of greater diversity, your company must measure its diversity baseline, identify gaps and bottlenecks, and track progress in diversity initiatives. To help our customers’ executives and talent leaders accomplish these objectives in a timely and productive way, we are proud to announce the launch of our Diversity Analytics.

We built Diversity Analytics with the principles of trust, usability, and security:

  1. Measure diversity of your candidates and hires in terms of gender, ethnicity, region, veteran status, disability, age, and other categories.
  2. Benchmark against prior time periods, locations, business units, departments, sources of candidates, and more.
  3. Track the pipeline of diverse candidates through the stages of your hiring workflow. Identify bottlenecks in the process that may prevent diverse candidates from moving forward.
  4. Filter by attributes of the candidate, position, role seniority, location, and more to probe and develop deeper insight.
  5. Secure access to the data and share only with authorized personnel.

The Eightfold Diversity Analytics starts with the data in your own applicant tracking system and HR information system. Our technology then organizes the interview process stages to construct the hiring funnel. You can then review detailed, near-real-time data for individual EEOC classes such as gender and ethnicity across the hiring funnel. This analysis is automated, removing the many hours of manual effort previously required to surface this information.

Insights are helpful only to the extent they help guide action and outcomes. Here’s where Eightfold’s full Talent Diversity solution helps you to do:

  1. Source diverse candidates: Engage diverse candidates in your talent pool with campaigns targeted to specific groups, such as attendees of the Grace Hopper Celebration and AfroTech.
  2. Attract more diverse applications: Eightfold Personalized Career Site overcomes subtle biases expressed in job descriptions and application processes, encouraging more candidates from underrepresented groups.
  3. Blind resume screening: Masked Profiles hide all evidence of personal characteristics so decision makers can select candidates without reference to gender, age, ethnicity, and other categories, preventing bias in talent decisions.
  4. Measure Progress: Diversity Analytics to measure the diversity of your workforce, identify gaps and bottlenecks, and track progress in diversity initiatives.

We’re proud to be bringing visibility to diversity efforts. Talk to us about how you can add these critical tools in your company.

That Resume Stinks. But That Job Description’s Not Much Better.

According to a recent Harris Media poll, 73% of senior execs say that finding talent is a critical problem at their company—despite an overload of resumes.

We get it. Sometimes it feels like TA and hiring managers speak Swedish, while job seekers speak Swahili. You spend time on each job description, honing it so that it tightly defines requirements and enticements to attract the best possible candidates. Yet the resumes and cover letters you get in return seem like they come from another planet, forcing you to spend hours wading through irrelevance to uncover a few promising leads. What went wrong?

Let’s start with those resumes you’re receiving. They’re designed to show what each applicant has done, not where that person wants to go or how a laundry list of skills and achievements might indicate a career direction. Even worse, they aren’t structured in a way so they can easily compared with resumes from everyone else.

Your job descriptions don’t help. They encourage candidates to tell you what they think you want to hear. They lack meaningful insights into whether a person reading the job description is qualified. They fail to give prospective employees realistic insights into your company or their career path—and they can be biased.

But it’s not your fault that job descriptions don’t work, and it’s not the candidate’s fault that resumes are hard to use. The fact is they are designed for a different era. Resumes and job descriptions stink because they are state-of-the-art for a totally different time.

You wouldn’t take a horse-drawn carriage to work. How come you’re forced to use ancient technologies to hire?

Here’s the good news: artificial intelligence applied to talent acquisition can help you dig deeper, discovering the potential and possibilities for both you and your candidates hidden within resumes, job descriptions, and across the Internet. You get to focus quickly on those candidates whose skills best match your needs—both for open positions now, and for growth positions in the future.

Artificial intelligence done right turns recruitment and retention into competitive advantage. It takes what already works in your recruitment process and frees your team to work better, faster, and smarter. That’s better than yet another pile of resumes, any day of the week.

Overcome These Two Obstacles to Achieve Greater Diversity

Many CEOs and CHROs say their companies can’t find or keep diverse talent, even though they prioritize D&I programs. Their great intentions run into two intractable obstacles when it comes to building a stronger, smarter, more diverse workforce.

Overcoming these obstacles is hard. But it’s not impossible.

Our Biases Stand in the Way of Diversity

The first obstacle to greater diversity is simple: You and your people are biased.

Don’t be offended—we’re biased, too. Everyone’s got some sort of bias, whether innate or intentional. That’s because we’re human.

Bias doesn’t mean that your corporate culture is inherently sexist, racist, or xenophobic. Bias doesn’t mean anyone has bad intentions. It means that hiring managers might prefer people from a similar background to their own, with similar interests both inside and outside the office. Or it might be something even simpler, such as using words like “assertive” in interviews and job descriptions, which can favor men over women.

These types of “unconscious” or “unintentional” biases are normally invisible, unless your organization looks for them.

When it comes to talent acquisition and retention, many organizations need assistance hiring people from underrepresented groups with the right skills. Many companies have enough diversity candidates at the top of the hiring funnel, but by the time offers are accepted, the pool has grown far less diverse. That’s unconscious bias at work.

Your Company Has a Brand as a Workplace

The second barrier to diversity is even more subtle. Your company has a reputation, and word gets around regarding whether or not you’re a great place to work. Likewise, you’re a known factor when it comes to building a welcoming, supportive environment for minority or disadvantaged workers. That goes for promotions and career growth as well as day-to-day operations.

Your reputation with individuals from underrepresented groups is part of your employer brand. Branding depends a lot on what your company says—however, in this case, your brand as a workplace is almost entirely dependent on what you do.

The inevitable result is that your organization doesn’t always match the best talent available to the needs of your open positions. Even worse, you risk alienating your existing diversity pool, complicating retention at the same time you and your team work to expand talent in a highly competitive hiring market.

AI Solves the Obstacles to Diversity

The challenge is both real and significant. 40% of those same leaders cited above can’t find enough qualified, diverse talent. 38% struggle to retain their current diverse talent.

So what’s the answer? Take bias out of talent research, talent acquisition, and talent retention. Replace it with a tight focus on skills, achievements, and growth potential. Identify the best of the best within targeted diversity pools and remove application processes that affect specific groups disproportionately.

That’s where artificial intelligence comes into play. Diversity is an area where artificial intelligence is an essential tool, helping us build a better, more equitable workforce. The best part is that it’s not science fiction. These AI tools are here today, helping organizations quite literally work smarter to meet their diversity goals.