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Talent Analytics: Why HR Should Use Its Sixth Sense

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Meghan Biro
on December 01, 2014

[Today’s guest blog post is from Meghan Biro, CEO of TalentCulture Consulting Group.]

Despite the buzz, and continuing innovations by technology that are making Talent Analytics a downright phenomenal tool, HR is a bit — behind.

On the one hand we’ve got brand new streams of verifiable information not even possible a year or so ago. We’ve got the ability to mine real data on potential hires and workforce strategy, adding a hefty dose of science to the art of recruiting and managing talent. It was a full year ago that I wrote about why Big Data is HR’s new BFF. This potential cloud-sized trove of valuable information – worked with the right algorithms and filters – can be turned into actionable insight. 

But on the other hand, HR, what gives? 

HR is one facet of business that can seem more like an art. The resume looks great and the interview was a standout? “Star player!” one recruiter claims, “I can feel it in my gut.” We still need those gut feelings: HR is all about humans — with such a range of behaviors, skills, intelligence and mindsets that you can’t simply quantify someone. 

But while watching professional sports recently, it hit me. Behind each recruited player is a complex admixture of very specific data, and yes, that sixth sense for effective teambuilding. Truth is, sports have long been utilizing a form of talent analytics —in recruitment, management, retention, the whole nine yards (it is football season, you know). 

For the world of work and CHROs, it’s time to catch up. Talent Analytics, which uses data in management decisions from talent acquisition to placement, from compensation to retention and from promotion tosuccession planning, can do a whole lot of the heavy lifting in HR. 

Kick your sixth sense in gear with these six key data points:

1. Talent Analytics has the capacity to be a powerful descriptive tool, looking at past performance and information to enable strategic change. Josh Bersin described the astonishing revelations a company had after performing a statistical analysis of sales productivity and turnover. The data showed that old indicators (such as GPA and education) factored less in terms of performance and retention than experience selling big-ticket items, for instance. When the data was implemented into the recruiting process, the company grew by $4 M in the very next fiscal period.

2. It’s also an incredible predictive tool. By analyzing the skills and attributes of high performers in the present, organizations can build a template for future hires. As my neighbor here in Cambridge MA, Greta Roberts, notes, predictive talent analytics is much more useful, because it asks questions in order to change the outcome, not reflect on it. What will our attrition rate be this year? Who may leave the company? What can we do to reduce that turnover?

3. By its nature, Talent Analytics is democratic: merit may well trump a fancy education, skills may supersede proximity, and remember those apparently intangible aspects, like social skills, flexibility, emotional intelligence, initiative and  attitude? They are now measurable. Just look at Google’s HR division devoted to people analytics, and massive, global sites like LinkedIn, a gold mine for HR. 

4. Talent Analytics is evolving rapidly, as technology has created more fluid, flexible, powerful tools.Advanced software algorithms, for instance, can identify talent and match it to an organization’s needs, pinpointing team players based on core traits and personality matching, making it an effective tool for preliminary screenings.

5. Talent Analytics is mobile. Everything’s mobile. Your talent acquisition strategies had better be, too. New mobile apps make talent searches a matter of anytime and anywhere, including red-flag identifiers, an efficient way to handle the increasingly global and social nature of hires.

6. Talent Analytics is growing. The market for corporate talent management software grew by 17% in 2013, and is now over $5 billion in size. Gartner predicts that the market for Big Data and analytics will generate $3.7 Trillion in products and services and generate 4.4 million new jobs by 2015.

Time to get in the game, HR. and put that sixth sense to work.


Meghan M. Biro, CEO of TalentCulture Consulting Group, is a globally recognized talent management leader, career strategist and digital media catalyst. Named as one of the “Top 25 Trendsetters in HR” by HR Examiner and "Top 25 Women To Follow On Twitter For Your Job Search" by CEOWorld, she’s consulted with hundreds of companies — new ventures to global brands, including Microsoft, IBM, and Google — to recruit, empower and retain talent. Meghan's concepts on recruiting, brands and social media in the workplace set the standard for best practices in leadership development and HR. Meghan was named on Huffington Post’s “Top 100 Business, Leadership & Tech Twitter Accounts You Must Follow” and “100 Must Follow on Twitter” for three years running. Her weekly Twitter Chat #TChat World of Work is now a go-to in the world of work, an expanding, dynamic community of business leaders and innovators, and a leading source for HR and business professionals worldwide. 

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