Keyboard warriors and Facebook over-sharers need to step away from their computers if they hope to be employable in the future. Big data is heading into the recruitment sphere with global and overseas companies already using it to determine ideal employees and quantify candidates.


SCOUT Recruitment Software global business leader Andrea Tjoeng said the process, known as people analytics, could be mainstream in Australia within five years. “It will be less about perfecting a CV and more about the footprint left behind in cyberspace,” she said. “If you’re reviewing something on Whirlpool, think how that might be read by a prospective employer. When you are sharing anything about yourself, think whether you would share that information on your first day or in a job interview.”


The most common form of people analytics creates a profile of the company’s best employees based on staff surveys then applies the profile to new candidates during the application process to find people who are similar. “They might look for patterns like having lots of experience in a certain role, or living within a 10km radius of the office, or (whether) that kind of person tends to enjoy researching and doing their own self-guided learning on the weekend,” Ms Tjoeng said.


Be wary of what you post online before applying for a job. “(People analytics determines) what makes up successful people, what patterns we can find and how we can use that to find similar people in the future.” There are predicted to be both positive and negative social effects of reducing jobseekers down to a number from an algorithm. Ms Tjoeng said the process had led to a lack of employee diversity in Silicon Valley.


Meanwhile office supplies company xerox began widening their employee searches to include those with less experience. “Big data showed previous experience had no bearing on whether an employee was going to succeed at xerox. It was more about cultural fit and how close they live to the office,” Ms Tjoeng said.


“It’s not always about blocking people out but opening the funnel.” Hays director Darren Buchanan said big data and people analytics could also identify triggers for employees leaving their company, such as time served or reaching a certain level. “It can be used as a flag to take some action, change behaviour or put in support structures to help people get through that period or help them take the next step forward to where they want to go,” he says. Big data can include keywords in resumes and answers on company questionnaires but increasingly, digital footprints also contribute.


Ms Tjoeng said a lot of the data collected for employee profiles might not be in our control. “Assume any information you are sharing online, even if it is not public now, in a few years it will be,” she said.“This is a natural evolution as our technology improves and we become more comfortable sharing our lives online.”


Mr Buchanan said big data should not be used in isolation but as an extra tool to build a bigger picture. “Like psychometric testing … (people analytics) is a component of the recruitment process rather than the be all and end all of it,” he said. “It will never replace personal interactions.”

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