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Refresh of the Fittest

February 28

While I wanted to start this article with Charles Darwin’s thoughts on the evolution of species and the idea of "survival of the fittest", it turns out he actually worded it "the ones most responsive to change". This ruins my plan to parallel Darwin’s thoughts with the idea of "cultural fit" when it comes to the match between an applicant and a company. That being said, I'll stand by my topic of "It's not the best candidate that succeeds, but the one that is the best fit for the company." (I know, it doesn't sound that smart if you have to explain it, right?).

My premise is simple (as I wrote about it here): each position is unique and your selection is going to end up setting aside awesome candidates that were either "less awesome" than the one you picked, or just had a bad day in an interview. To make a long story short, at some point in time they did apply, and did give you all of their information, they simply didn’t turn into a hire. But what have you done with the data?

If you have lots of open positions, that makes a lot of potential good fits who didn’t get hired but you still have access to their info. We should ask the question: what is all of this data worth over time? 

Ok, I'll split that question in two:
• What's the chance Mr./Mrs. Second Best will update their resume in your ATS? (You probably don't need any tip to figure out it's pretty close to being "absolutely none, unless they have been dreaming of working for you since age seven  and would rather sleep on the sidewalk in front of your building than miss the slightest chance of talking to you again").
• What's the chance Mr./Mrs. Second Best will still be looking at that exact same job they originally applied to three years from now? (Or, we can rephrase as "what’s the chance they did actually sleep on that sidewalk, found no other job, and acquired no other skill?”)

Back to my original question, given we have a giant database of outdated data, what is your candidate database worth over time?

Probably very little in most cases, and that’s a shame. Not only because there's not much you can do about it (without spending an awful lot of resources), but also because that data cost you a lot to obtain (not only the money spent to get those people to send their resumes, but also the time it took to evaluate their profiles, interview them, and ultimately—reject them. What if we were given the opportunity to refresh that data; to keep it live?  It would, all of a sudden, have tremendous value.

I'm not talking about an email campaign to your database asking past candidates if they will "please update their records". I'm talking about something that is already available; the ability to connect with a candidate’s social profile. Whether it be custom development work using public API’s, or some of the new tools released by LinkedIn or other recent-start-ups, the solution is closer than you think. The real questions aren’t technology-related—as we know it can be done. The questions are whether candidates will want their social profiles accessed as needed by companies, and whether companies will want the possible privacy concerns that surround this new world of social media data.


The results? It will likely change the way we look at metrics and performance; not just black or white anymore—but all shades of grey would become available once we look at the long-term data. Not only who was hired, but what about the candidates you did not hire—and in a few years have gained significant experience somewhere else, or the ones that you can use to refer someone even if they are no longer interested.

As the ability to report on performance, HR and recruitment departments are no longer cost centers but major contributors to profits; new technologies continue to introduce new opportunities; and those willing to embrace innovation will come out ahead. 

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