Hiring & Recruiting, Reference & Background Checks

Data Hygiene and the Future of Recruiting

It’s no secret—recent hiring surges have led to a more competitive job market. And, as a result, recruiters and hiring managers are now operating within what is referred to as a “candidate-driven market.” This means high-quality candidates can be selective about which interviews they take and, ultimately, which company they work for.

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Unfortunately, it also means high-quality candidates are much harder to reach these days. It’s no longer enough to post job openings online and wait for candidates to come pouring in—because they won’t. And, popular job networking sites like LinkedIn have become totally saturated with recruiters vying for the same handful of candidates. As a result, contact and candidate data have become an increasingly hot commodity.

Think about it: The competitive nature of recruiting means the company that reaches a candidate first is most likely to secure an interview with him or her—and, you can’t do that without the right data.

Today, we discuss the importance of contact information, the basics of data hygiene, and why these are critical considerations to make in the face of a hypercompetitive hiring landscape. Let’s get into it!

Data Decay and Recruiting

Though contact data are traditionally a sales, marketing, or operations responsibility, data hygiene has a lasting impact on recruiting, as well. It’s as simple as this: If you can’t get in touch with a candidate, you’ll never successfully place him or her in an open position.

Candidate contact data are collected a number of ways—typically as part of the job application process. These data enter your contact database, where they essentially go to die at the hands of data decay. Consider these statistics (source):

  • 40% of e-mail users change their e-mail address at least once every 2 years.
  • 15% of e-mail users change their e-mail address one or more times a year.
  • 20% of all postal addresses change every year.
  • 18% of all telephone numbers change every year.
  • 21% of all CEOs change every year.
  • 25% to 33% of e-mail addresses become outdated every year.
  • 60% of people change job titles within their organizations each year.

Now, you’re probably wondering, if a candidate has already applied for an open position, why does it matter if his or her contact information decays? We’re glad you asked:

  • Candidate personas: Without accurate data, you won’t be able to build accurate candidate personas—detailed profiles that help recruiters target more qualified candidates.
  • Talent database: How many times does someone apply to a job and, even though he or she is a highly skilled professional, he or she is just not the right fit? Any logical recruiter would hang onto his or her contact information and résumé in case a different position opens up.
  • Past employees: Past employees make great hiring resources—whether you rehire a former employee or use him or her to secure a referral.

Without clean and accurate data, the aforementioned activities become nearly impossible. But, fortunately, technological advances have made data management and database hygiene much easier. We talk about this next.

What Is Data Hygiene?

In its most basic form, data hygiene is simply the act of cleaning, normalizing, and appending your data. If you’re not familiar with data hygiene, here’s a brief primer on some of these important terms:

  • Normalization: This is the process of standardizing values within your contact database. Data normalization creates relativity and context by grouping similar values into one common value. Almost any piece of data can be normalized—job title, job function, company name, address, industry, and more.
  • Append: A database append is the process of taking an existing contact database and matching it against the records of a data vendor to fill in any gaps or missing data points.
  • Cleanse: The term “database cleanse” is a little bit of a gray area because it can involve both normalization and appending but can cover additional functions like deduplication, market intelligence, net new leads, and even corrections.

If you’re new to data maintenance and find these terms to be intimidating or confusing, fear not. We break down data hygiene in the following section. Keep reading.

How to Conduct Data Maintenance

The premise of data maintenance is simple, but putting it into practice tends to be more difficult. Here are the steps we recommend to ensure optimal candidate data health:

  • Improve candidate data collection: Start at the source of your data. Consider how you collect candidate information—if you’re like most staffing professionals, you likely use more than one recruiting platform. Think about it: Do you use online Web forms? Multiple job board submissions? In-person applications? Considering how many ways recruiters collect information, it’s no wonder most candidate databases are a mess.

To fix this, we recommend that you choose tools and software that integrate, streamline form fields, relabel anything that might cause confusion, and, if possible, use form validation to require important data points. It’s also important to cut back on manual data entry as much as possible, eliminating data issues caused by human error.

Another way to improve data collection is to request information from candidates as soon as you get in touch with them. This will help you verify the data you do have and fill in any gaps or missing information—making for a more robust and accurate candidate database.

  • Audit your current candidate database: Work with a business data provider to analyze and fix your current database. Although there are ways to do this process manually, working with a professional will ensure a smooth, accurate process.
  • Invest in tools to keep your future data healthy: The second data enters your contact database, they begin to decay—and unfortunately, there’s no way around this. For this reason, it’s important to invest in a data solution that allows you to automate or schedule the data maintenance process.

Key Takeaways:

Data hygiene is critical to every aspect of your business—but no more so than your candidate sourcing and hiring strategies. Think about it: The future of your company depends on your ability to hire high-quality employees. If you don’t prioritize data hygiene, you will lose talent to the company that can reach them first.

Molly Clarke is a senior marketing manager at ZoomInfo, where she writes for the company’s sales and marketing blog. ZoomInfo is a B2B database that helps organizations accelerate growth and profitability. In her free time, Clarke likes to write about topics related to marketing and business.