Is Recruitment Data the New Oil?


As a recruitment leader, recruiter or recruitment marketer, you’ll know how precious your data is.  It’s what your clients and candidates “buy”.  This blog is a crucial read to help you form a long term, sustainable plan for your data, your recruiting workflows and profitability.

Recruiters Suffer from FOMO

Recruitment data has never been so precious, or so risky! We need data to make money, but we also think we need to delete it to prevent GDPR audits! But could recruitment data be the new oil?

Data being the new oil is not a new concept.  The term is used widely across the web by, for example, The Economist and the BBC. In fact, Clive Humby, UK Maths whizz and creator of Tesco’s Clubcard, was the first coin the phrase back in 2006.

Joe McGuire of Cube19 recently suggested in my Recruitment Leaders’ Podcast that data is not like oil… as oil is finite and date is infinite.  Interesting thought – but also makes me think that the recruitment industry’s fear of missing out will keep recruiters addicted to sourcing, rather than attracting and nurturing.

Ever Tried Cleaning up an Oil Slick? Recruiters Are Sticky!

Often recruiters are too busy digging for oil (data). They are so sticky with data that they can’t pick up the phone… The perceived lack of candidates causes recruiters and their leaders to stress about placing jobs and hitting target. This leads to an overload of systems and an ill-defined and unmeasurable process. Add to this the fact that 76% of marketing departments are not using their recruitment CRM. The data is just not fit for purpose.

When I dig deeper into a recruiters’ workflow, data and marketing, I find that yes, data is a problem, but not in the way that the recruitment leader thinks.

Recruiters are drowning in data. Their data dumps and silos are prevalent but also, terrifyingly invisible. The average recruitment business has at least:

  1. LinkedIn connections (staff data)

  2. LinkedIn/ Twitter / Facebook company followers – relatively useless unless the business has an incredibly strong marketing function targeted with converting this data into subscribers

  3. Broadbean (or other recruitment / job board software) applicants (see point 2 above)

  4. Their CRM – often not the first port of call for recruiters

  5. Their emails – unmonitored

  6. Excel spreadsheets (that still seem to be the preferred choice for recruiters wanting visibility of “their” data)

And now with GDPR coming we need to look at this area of our recruitment business and get ship-shape. GDPR is a fantastic opportunity to strike oil and get rich!

Why Has It Taken GDPR to Get a Recruiter’s Attention?

What a shame that legislation is the thing to get us moving in the right direction?

  1. It wasn’t the instincts of many of the recruitment leaders I work with who have been saying for years “why do my recruiters need all of this “stuff” (data, systems, job boards etc…)

  2. It wasn’t Marketers having to buy data – the very data you now are deleting – to market your recruitment businesses as their recruitment CRM just wasn’t delivering what they needed.

  3. It hasn’t been Recruiters barely placing the average 2 out of 10 jobs that they get.

  4. The reputation of the recruiter in the UK being equated with an estate agent hasn’t gotten our attention enough to get strategic and practical about data in recruitment.

So it takes legislation to get our attention, not our staff, candidates or clients.

Just Like Oil Needs Refining, Recruitment Data Needs Nurturing

We all know that you can’t just get oil out of the ground and pump it in to your car – it needs refining. Just like if you find a candidate or client you don’t just send an invoice… it takes work and process

But have we sacrificed process for data? I think so.

When the average recruiter looks at their data, they are likely to see simply masses of CVs and emails. This creates stress and an impractical working environment.

Like the 3Cs (candidates, clients and consultants), an ideal oilfield is a “prospect”.  And like your recruitment data silos, the oilfield is layered / segmented.  By understanding what these layers are, you’ll have an easier time finding your oil, segmenting your data, converting it, and making placements.

Data is Vanity.  Subscribers are Sanity

To help with GDPR, best-practice process and sanity, I’ve developed a concept for data that I call the "dig up stupid" model, to help recruiters understand how to segment data and generate ROI from their data.

Recruitment Data Layer 1: Future Data

This is data that you haven’t got yet – it’s either not been created, not applied, not heard of you.  It’s data you need to be ready for.  You need to convert it when it appears – followers are not your key to success, opted-in subscribers are the key to warm calls and relevant job applicants.

Think about how your marketing department is generating awareness, think about how your recruiters are attracting.  What are you doing when people look up and take note of you?  Are you converting them or simply storing them?

Recruitment Data Layer 2: Yesterday's Data

This is data that it is critical that you retain – ie. placed candidates, invoiced clients.  What is your process for retention?  Every recruiter I know wants to be retained.  Every sales team knows that that it is cheaper to sell to existing clients, than to generate new.

  • What are your marketers doing to retain?

  • What do your sales teams do to retain?

  • Do you have a measurable and proven process?

Recruitment Data Layer 3: Dirty "Useful" Data

So, candidates have been applying to you for years and you’ve met lots of prospect clients. They are all in your invisible silos – and need to be on your recruitment CRM so you can action. This is what we call “CRMFirst”.

I’m not convinced that recruiters have time to convert this data – this is where your marketing teams can add massive value.  You have a legitimate interest to hold (process) this data – so do it, but do more, convert it! This is where your marketing teams need to get great at nurturing, converting and adding real value to sales.

Recruitment Data Layer 4: Risky "Useless" Data (FOMO)

So, be honest. Do you have the bottom layer?

  1. Really dirty data that’ll take a lot of time and money to clean

  2. Bought data

  3. “Imported” data (likely from another recruiter?)

  4. You’re an accountancy recruiter holding retail data – that’s not what GDPR terms as “legitimate interest”…

None of the above is necessary, and this data stream is likely to be your largest, most distracting, and your riskiest.

  • Processing it (hosting it) is a waste of space.

  • Asking recruiters to source from this is a waste of time and money.

  • Marketing to it is likely to cause massive GDPR compliance issues.

Recruitment Data Recruitment CRM and Marketing Barclay Jones

Have an Assertive Plan for your Biggest Recruitment Data – Avoid FOMO

Have a plan for data layer 4.  But don’t fixate on it.  It’s your bottom layer, and as mentioned above it may be your least useful, as well as the biggest data set.  Your recruiters do not need distracting with this layer.  Their fear of missing out (FOMO) will slow them down and stop them from engaging with your first 3 layers.

Recruitment Marketers Assemble!

Perhaps take a segment of layer 4 and “poke” it with what I call a “hair flick / eye flutter” campaign.  Imagine Lauren Bacall flicking her hair and giving you one last chance before she leaves the room.  Send out a campaign of your best content.  Tell the recipients to note that their peers love this content and you’d love to keep sending it to them.

Note: Simply sending out a campaign with a massive unsubscribe button, yes will clean up your data, but it won’t increase your placement rates or improve staff morale.  With this “poke” see what happens – look at the ROI, the unsubscribes, the dead emails, and use this to plan whether to keep poking, or just start archiving.

Refine that Oil, Recruiters! Get That Data Barrelled and Sold!

Some takeaways:

  • GDPR is good!

  • CRMFirst is key!

  • Lots of data makes you sticky and messy

  • Marketers need to be strategic with data

  • Your data needs to be segmented

  • Followers are yesterday, subscribers are NOW!

We work with Recruitment and IT leaders to deliver an ROI and sales-led recruitment technology strategy. Our mantra is “CRMFirst”!

HIIT Us, Recruiters!

Our high intensity interval training - Recruitment HIIT - helps recruiters source, convert quicker, and develop healthy pipelines, and recruitment marketers attract, engage, and retain candidates, generate clients, and colleagues (3Cs).




media centre

Read more