What’s Data Got to Do With It? Data Setup & Hygiene

As a recruiter, it’s easy to focus on the human side of your job—after all, most recruiters got into this line of work because they love working with people. But a recruiter’s role isn’t just about people anymore. Data is becoming an increasingly important part of the job. This doesn’t have to come at the expense of human connections—by learning how to wrangle and understand what the data is telling you, you can actually improve the quality of your human interactions and candidate experience through every stage of the hiring funnel.

In Part 1 of this three-part series, we looked at how data can give you insights into what’s happening with your pipeline—and predict what will happen next. In Part 2, we examined how to use data to drive and measure your sourcing efforts. And in this final installment in the series, we’ll look at how to properly set up and maintain your data so you can extract the maximum benefit from it.

Why does proper data setup matter?

Before we look at optimal ways to set up your data, you may be wondering, does it really matter to have data set up properly? The short answer is a resounding yes. For the slightly longer answer, we turned to our resident Greenhouse data mavens, Rosa Gandler, Customer Success Manager, and Erin Teague, Data Migration Specialist.

Rosa shared two main reasons why proper data setup is crucial: First, it ensures that your reporting data will be accurate. In Rosa’s words:

“You will be able to rely on the metrics generated in your applicant tracking system and know that they are 100% reflective of your process. Having reliable data allows you to make predictions off of your previous hiring data and can inform strategic changes to your process.”

The other main reason for maintaining proper data setup is that it will help you build a strong pipeline to source from in the future. Rosa says, “With a complete, centralized candidate record, you can source from your current database of individuals to find candidates you may want to consider for future openings. Reconsider previously rejected candidates confident that you have all the relevant information.”

Want to dive further into Rosa’s thoughts on proper data setup? Be sure to check out her blog post, “Success with Succession: Knowledge Management Tips for Your Recruiting Team.”

Erin explains that the benefit to having a clean data set with lots of points of information is that “it’s a whole new tool you can access. You can learn a lot about your processes, where you’re getting great candidates, where you’re not—it becomes this extra tool you can use to learn about how you were doing things in the past and how you want to do them in the future. If you have holes in that data set, it becomes hard to identify what’s going wrong or where you can improve, so that’s the biggest benefit.”

4 ways to ensure proper data setup

Now that we’ve explored some of the ways proper data setup can benefit you, your recruiting processes, and ultimately, your company, let’s look at how you can make sure your data is set up properly.

1. Maintain a central source of truth for recruiting and hiring data

If you’re the sole person in charge of maintaining recruiting and hiring data, this should be relatively easy—you just need to make sure you’re consistent in the way you enter candidates and move them through different stages. However, if you’re working as part of a larger team, Erin recommends standardizing as much as you can: “It makes it a lot easier to get meaningful information out of your data if you standardize the points you’re looking for through the workflow.”

Rosa also emphasizes the importance of aligning as a team to ensure everyone is logging the same data types at key points in the process. “As your recruiting team grows and changes, you will be able to trust the system to provide you with all relevant information and you avoid the risk of losing crucial information when someone leaves.”

Here are some examples of key points Rosa recommends tracking:

  1. Enter a source for every candidate.
  2. Log notes and a reason when you reject a candidate.
  3. Document any stage changes or interviews scheduled directly in the applicant tracking system.
  4. Input all interview feedback.
  5. Fill in offer information for candidates and mark them as hired if they accept; reject them if they decline.
  6. Close any filled jobs/openings and log the relevant close reason.

2. Clearly define what you’d like to learn from the data

Data can tell all kinds of stories, so Erin recommends taking some time to clearly define what you’re hoping to learn from your data. Once you’ve determined what you’re hoping to learn, that can help guide you to the area to focus on. Erin explains, “For example, if you really want to see time to hire—how long after a candidate does a face-to-face interview we get an offer out—then you may want to go back through and pull offer dates from your system.” Through this process, you may realize that you’re not tracking important dates like when an interview took place or when you sent out an offer. But starting with the clear question of  “What is our time to hire?” can help you realize that.

3. Take advantage of task management automation

It’s easy to get caught up in all the day-to-day demands of recruiting, which means that reporting can easily get lost in the shuffle. This doesn’t just apply to recruiters—hiring managers and interviewers are also guilty of neglecting to fill out scorecards and making other important updates and hiring process decisions. This is why Rosa says it’s essential to “leverage the built-in task management tools of your applicant tracking system to make this more bearable.” She explains that Greenhouse allows you to set up scorecard reminders when interviewers haven’t filled out their feedback and reminds recruiters about candidates left hanging with “Needs Decision” task reminders.

Erin echoes this sentiment and recommends that you “Follow through on candidates—even when things get busy.” In her role as Data Migration Specialist, she explains, “The biggest issue we see is not knowing where candidates live; they just stop mid-way through the pipeline.” Luckily for those of you using Greenhouse, Erin calls out that “Greenhouse has alerts that are really helpful to keep you on task, to make sure you make decisions on candidates. Greenhouse sets you up for success.”

4. Audit your data integrity on a regular basis

Everything that we’ve outlined so far will only work as long as it’s applied consistently. That’s why it’s important to create a regular cadence for auditing your data integrity. Rosa recommends that you “Make sure you put a system of accountability in place.” If you make it a priority to review a set of reports on a monthly or quarterly basis, you can catch any mistakes.

“Review offers, time to hire, hiring speed, source data, etc. and look for any outliers in the metrics. In Greenhouse, you can schedule reports to be emailed automatically, which can reduce the lift required to review this information.”

Even if you’re not planning to leave your current ATS or system of record, Erin recommends thinking about what would happen if you did. She suggests, “Think about only seeing what you have in a spreadsheet. Do you have enough information to be useful? You can even run an export of your candidate data into Excel and see if you get any information out of it. Look at it from a spreadsheet format and see if you can make sense of it. If the answer is yes, then great, you’re probably doing a good job with collecting your data.” If the answer is no, then see points 1 through 3 above for some ideas on how to remedy that.

Data setup: your next steps

In this post, we’ve outlined some of the main benefits to maintaining a clean set of data and offered guidelines to help you get there. Remember that these changes will likely not take place overnight; it will take time to build consistent, streamlined reporting habits. Be sure to take note of when changes go into effect.

One final tip: Rosa recommends choosing a start date for when you’ve officially transitioned into better data record-keeping so that you can benchmark yourself from that point forward. And remember, all that hard work is definitely worth it—your reward will be meaningful data that gives you clearer insights and ultimately makes you a better recruiter.

If you’d like to dig in to this topic further, be sure to check out Rosa’s blog post, Success with Succession: Knowledge Management Tips for Your Recruiting Team.”

Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Recruiting Metrics