Recruiting: All Data, Great and Small

January 29, 2014 by Wally Bock

I  just read Jason Berkowitz’ article, “Big Data is Hot, But Sometimes, Small Data Is the Better Way to Go.” Here’s the money quote.

“While I don’t disagree that Big Data holds promise (heck, I’ve even spoken on the topic at several HR conferences) I think the rush to embrace Big Data may cause us to overlook the wisdom of SMALL Data.

What do I mean by Small Data? If Big Data is characterized by massive data sets and the quest for statistical significance, Small Data is exactly the opposite — tiny data sets and the quest for anecdotal evidence.”

Using his “small data” can improve your recruiting. The key is in the last two words in that quote, “anecdotal evidence.” Macho data hounds scorn it because you can’t slice it and dice it and present it with decimal points.

It’s true that anecdotal evidence doesn’t’ fit neatly into the rows and columns of classic data. But insight lives in the anecdotal evidence.  Here’s how to find some.

Talk to some recent hires. Have them tell you the story of how they wound up working for your company. Allow time for them to talk past the routine niceties and start talking about their emotions. How did the process make them feel?

Get them talking about the forces at work when it came time for them to decide to join your team. What was the strongest draw? What was there about their situation at the time that pushed them to work for you?

Look at the negative forces working on them right then. What were they anxious about? Were there reasons they didn’t want to work for you?

The decision isn’t either/or. It’s not Big Data or Little Data. It’s not datasets or anecdotal evidence. They’re better together. Each one helps you get more from the other.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Selection

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